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Universal classification with CONTACT Elements

Universal Classification is a milestone for the company-wide organization of master data and feature-driven product development. Areas such as sales and marketing also benefit from the new classification system of the CONTACT Elements platform.

One of the central tasks of product development is the master data organization of the objects involved, such as articles, parts lists and documents. It is particularly important to be able to group similar objects and describe them with their specific properties so that they can be quickly found again. These requirements are met by a classification system that groups objects into classes and describes them with class-specific characteristics.

Extensive possibilities

With Universal Classification, the new classification system from CONTACT Elements, you can organize any objects in freely definable classification systems and provide them with specific characteristics. The basic functions of this new service are determined by the creation of class hierarchies with inheritance of characteristics, the possibility of multiple classification, the support of units, the definition of value stocks for characteristics as a mandatory value set or as a suggested list, and extensive search options.

However, Universal Classification goes far beyond this and offers not only basic characteristic types such as text, integer, floating point number, date and boolean, but also complex characteristic types such as block, multilingual and reference characteristics. The latter, for example, reference other objects contained in the system and are therefore able to represent object dependencies.

Department-specific views

In addition, the multiple classification options make it very easy to use departmental views with individual characteristics. In this way, the different departments can manage classification data for the same object independently of each other using multiple classification.

For this purpose, Universal Classification has a flexible lifecycle and rights system for the data on the classified object, in order to design roles and rights as well as approval and change processes and the entry and processing times for each view as required. For example, authorizations and the object life cycle for the technical characteristics of an article are usually linked directly to the article, so that articles and technical characteristics are shared and versioned together. Sales and marketing characteristics, on the other hand, are recorded and maintained by other persons or roles at completely different times and must therefore be able to be processed and released separately, regardless of the release status of the article.

For this reason, you can use Universal Classification to specify for each class or class hierarchy whether object life cycle and rights are to be linked to the classified object or whether they are to be handled independently. In the latter case, you can define a specific object life cycle for the class and configure an individual authorization system. The classification data can then be maintained and released separately by the authorized roles.

Block characteristics

Block characteristics are combinations of characteristics for new characteristic types. The ability to nest block characteristics and to assign multiple values to block characteristics at each level means that even complex data structures can be modeled as structured characteristics.

Characteristic-driven product development becomes easier

Universal Classification does not only support the classification of articles, but also the classification of all objects contained in the system. This makes Universal Classification a very powerful, complementary building block for the Elements business applications. Objects can now be easily enriched with features without data model extensions. The characteristics used come from a system-wide catalog of characteristics. This is the basis for a seamless integration of the often closely meshed specialist applications. For example, the variant-driving characteristics of article classification can be used directly in our Variant Management module to define product variability and define the maximum BOM for a particular variant.

Another example is WBS BOMs. By classifying a BOM item, you can overwrite selected, generally valid characteristics of the installed article in this special construction context. For example, an otherwise black component is used for this order in the customer color blue.

The consistent use of characteristics from requirements management to parts lists and the possibility of functional classification support a continuous feature-driven product development, which is an essential element of system engineering.

In addition to the classic fields of application mentioned above, Universal Classification is also excellently suited for the new fields of application in the IoT environment, such as, for example, the development of IoT devices and the modeling of the associated digital twins, because Universal Classification was developed and optimized for large amounts of data.

Your contact person: Arne Kiel, Principal Software Engineer


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