If we agree on the definition-product configurators are rules-based or knowledge-based tools that generate a list of components or assemblies, a product structure and associated documentation-it's easy to understand why long before the insurance industry considered the product configurator a viable instrument to facilitate product development, the manufacturing industry considered it to be one of the most valuable tools in the toolbox.For good reason. Consider the aerospace industry, in which regulatory compliance is intrinsic not just to a manufacturer's delivery of product, but also to its survival.

At each point during the manufacturing product life cycle management (PLM) cycle, which includes concept, design and development, prototype and pilot, launch and ramp, production, service and support, and finally phase out and retirement, an aerospace manufacturer's quality assurance program must meet the most demanding standards established by the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense, all U.S. space agencies, ISO 9001, AS9100 and the requirements of all aircraft manufacturers.

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