Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Octopart and Autodesk PLM 360 Partnership



Octopart is the leading search engine for electronic parts. The Octopart API is used by hundreds of OEMs and EMS providers to streamline quoting, sourcing and purchasing processes. The Octopart app for PLM 360 utilizes the Octopart API to access pricing and availability information for over 20 million electronic components, right within the PLM360 interface. This week I met with the team behind Octopart and had a the chance to dig deeper...

Mike: Morning Guys, great to meet you at last, so can you tell my readers a little bit about Octopart?

Janine: Hi Mike, we started building Octopart in 2007 when the founders -- physics researchers -- decided they were done with flipping through giant part supplier catalogs, and built a tool for themselves to find parts fast.  Turns out lots of other people felt the same pain and wanted to use it.   What started as a small project turned into a mission-driven company when the founders discovered that data in the electronics world is a bit of a mess.   Part data is all over the place, or trapped in proprietary databases, or completely unstructured.   We've spent years working with part manufacturers and suppliers to organize their data so we can make it accessible and useful to engineers and part buyers.  Today we have a database of 30 million parts with pricing and quantity information, technical specs, compliance statements and more.  And we're still working on it.  


Sam in his physics lab at the University of Colorado Boulder pre-Octopart

Mike: Sounds cool! So your have an open API can you share how, and why being open has helped you and your customers use Octopart?

Janine:  Open Data, APIs, and cloud are all very hot buzzwords at the moment, so we thought we'd better jump on that bandwagon. Just kidding!  Our user base has grown up with us over the years, and we're seeing more users ask for more data and more sophisticated tools.  Building out features to accommodate everyone's specific needs is out of the question since we're a small team trying to be lean and laser-focused.  What we're happy to do is open up our database so people can programmatically access our data and use it in exactly the way they want to.   It's a testament to the creativity of our user base that this has translated into Octopart data being used in over a hundred applications in design, sourcing and manufacturing.  Autodesk PLM 360 is one of the applications that really showcases how freeing data from its silos means people can operate more efficiently and effectively with tools they already use. 

Mike: So you have been using PLM360 for a while now can you tell me about your first steps, what are your thoughts on functionality, ease of use etc?

Janine:  As a startup, getting started with PLM 360 was no sweat at all since we're used to working with cloud apps.  For some one like me,  quick setup, access from anywhere and lightning-fast collaboration tools are things I've come to expect.  It has the look and feel of cloud apps in other categories - like Dropbox or SalesforceCRM.   Others on our team have used traditional, on-premise PLM software in other jobs before and I'm told the difference is not to be taken for granted.

Mike: Thats what we like to hear :) So a while ago we collaborated on the Octopart look up App in the PLM360 App Store. Can you explain what it is and how it works?

Janine:  The Octopart Lookup app is a way to get information about specific electronic components directly from PLM 360.  So if you're  in product development or sourcing and you need to submit a change notice because a component in your BOM just EOL-ed, you can lookup a new part for the right price point right inside PLM360. 


The Octopart App in PLM 360


Mike: Excellent!  we're going to look at the app in more detail in abit and how our users get started. But for now tell me something random about Octopart!!…(don’t be shy!) 


Janine:  A chunk of our user base, especially early adopters, are hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.  Sam, one of the founders, is very much of this breed, and one of his projects that helped get the early word out was a DIY doublet amplifier made out of an empty Altoid tin.   For awhile there, Sam thought he might have a little side business selling these.  He ate lots of Altoids that month!


Altoid Doublet Amplifier





Doublet amplifier project: http://makezine.com/2007/06/18/doublet-amplifier/)  

Mike: Thanks Janine, looking forward to working with you on the future Octopart PLM 360 App updates and enhancements

Let now take a look at how you get started in 3 simple steps

How to Install the Octopart Look up App

Step 1: Open the Autodesk PLM 360 App Store

Administration >  App Store 



















Step 2: Select the Octopart App and Click Install 




Step 3: Add the Octopart app PLM 360 permissions to your preferred group and that's it!


How to use the App

Step 1: Open the app and create a new record and enter the Octopart number you want to look up





Step 2: Save the record, upon save Autodesk PLM 360 will automatically retrieve the require data from Octopart. Right from with PLM 360 you now have access stocking information, price breaks, lead times, and you can purchase parts with one-click access direct to suppliers.


Stocking information, price breaks, lead times


Purchase parts with one-click access direct to suppliers.

















Step 3: you can now approve the Octopart data using the Autodesk PLM 360 workflow.


Autodesk PLM 360 workflow to allow you to select and approve the Octopart components





















As you can see 3 simple steps to install and use the Octopart PLM 360 App.

Thanks for Reading ..... Mike



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