What is Product Line Engineering (PLE)?
Look around you. Do you see an item that is manufactured? Perhaps you see a car, or desk, or the device that you are reading this on. And chances are the manufacturer of that thing has more than one model of that item. All those model types make up a “product line” for that manufacturer.
How do manufactured products get created? They are engineered. Teams of people work on creating that device for you to use. Business analysts create requirements of what the market desires. Systems, electrical, mechanical and software engineers take those requirements and create systems, architectures, models, designs and implementations. Quality and testing engineers create test plans and test cases and execute tests in order to ensure that the item meets the requirements. Project managers plan and organize the work that needs to be done in order to create the product by the businesses' desired timetable.
Product Line Engineering is the discipline of engineering all variations of the items that make up a product set.
Traditionally, each of the different disciplines on the team had specialized computer applications (tools) to assist them. IBM Rational offers many such tools. Examples are DoorsNG (requirements), Rati
But teams often have tools from a variety of vendors, so sharing and integrating the data from these different tools can be challenging. The Open
Product Line Engineering is an evolving discipline that is using new tools and techniques to facilitate the manufacturing of the every day products we enjoy. These new tools promise to help manufacturers deliver new products and variations on existing products more efficiently, with higher quality and faster time to market. That will give consumers greater choice and lower prices when shopping for engineered products.
What do you think? As manufacturers become more capable of churning out more variations to products at a faster pace, will consumers be overwhelmed with too many choices, or will we all have our own personalized variation of the product?