BigLever Software, the leading provider of Product Line Engineering (PLE) solutions, today announced the next generation of its industry-standard Gears PLE Lifecycle Framework, which extends the capabilities and benefits of PLE beyond engineering to manufacturing, product marketing, sales, and other key operational aspects. BigLever’s new Gears capabilities are enabling some of the world’s largest complex product manufacturers and integrators to break down organizational and operational silos across the enterprise; significantly reduce complexity; and achieve new levels of efficiency, interoperability, and alignment among all aspects of planning, designing, delivering, maintaining, and evolving a product line.

“As manufacturers are challenged to deliver sophisticated product lines with more feature diversity, they are looking for ways to dramatically reduce engineering and operational complexity,” said Dr. Charles Krueger, BigLever Software CEO. “The new Gears capabilities represent a transformative shift. By achieving better alignment between engineering and enterprise operations, organizations are able to manage product complexity and variability much more effectively – from product line portfolio planning to engineering, manufacturing, sales, and maintenance. The result is whole-factor improvements in time-to-market, product line scalability, and product quality – which translate to major gains in competitive advantage.”

The challenge of managing the product variation for a family of complex products spans the full engineering and enterprise operations lifecycle. By encompassing Product Line Engineering and Operations (known as PLE&O), BigLever’s new Gears capabilities reflect an evolutionary step forward for the PLE field, primarily driven by demand from customers in key sectors such as automotive, aviation, and defense. These organizations are seeking to increase competitive advantage by employing advanced PLE approaches to simplify and streamline the delivery of ever-greater product diversity and sophisticated product features.

This next generation of Gears introduces two significant new capabilities that allow organizations to better connect PLE into the enterprise operations phases of the product lifecycle:

  • Feature Bundles – Enables other departments, beyond engineering, to understand and manage product line features and feature combinations at a higher, more customer-facing level, rather than a detailed engineering level. More specifically, it provides a formal and rigorous method for effective product line portfolio management in organizational functions such as product marketing and manufacturing, by bundling and translating the detailed feature models used by engineering into higher level feature descriptions typically seen by customers at the product level. With this capability, more informed, quicker decisions can be made about the specific product line feature combinations that are applicable on the manufacturing floor and/or in the marketplace. In large complex product lines, this leads to a dramatic reduction in complexity and increase in efficiency through a holistic PLE&O approach.
  • Views – Supports the Feature Bundles capability and other facets of product portfolio definition by allowing Gears users to focus on a selected set of product feature definition tasks within the context of the larger PLE production line. The user can select and view (in a specified order) the relevant tasks that relate to the bundling or selection of features in a particular area of the product being defined. This simplified task view dramatically reduces complexity for users, enabling them to become much more focused and efficient.