Welcome to the Teamcenter Product Configurator Guide. The goal of this article is to describe product configuration and describe how Teamcenter can help define and manage product variability.

What is Product Configuration?

Product configuration is the process of customizing a product to meet requirements.

Problem Statement

Customers expect and demand not just a product that meets their functional needs, but also one that is tailored to specifically what they want.

This includes style, color, special features, and conveniences of their choosing. No matter what kind of products you make, customers demand choices. To meet that demand, you need to deliver multiple product variations while still remaining profitable. This is often thought of as a design problem with different options tied to every design. Operate strategy demands innovation that leads to new products, features, and change complexity. With increasing complex products, the demand for product variability is equally high. Companies today are struggling to deliver products that meet customer demands for variability.

Solution – Product Configuration

Product variability reaches beyond design and impacts people across the organization from purchasing to manufacturing and more. Options expressed in designers’ terms may not make sense to everyone, leading to miscommunication, mistakes, missed deadlines, and cost overruns.

Example of Product Configuration

Assume that your company manufactures cars. For each product model that your company manufactures, there are numerous features available that the customer can choose. For instance, if you ask the customer, what color do you want? The customer has the option of choosing from black, blue, or red.

Similarly, if you ask the question, what color interiors would you prefer? The customer again has the option of choosing from black, blue, and red. Suppose the customer prefers a black car with blue interiors, it may not be a valid configuration. 

To help you configure products, you’re guided through valid choices and will not be shown options that are not available. In this example, customers will get to choose the interior colour they want. They can choose from the available combinations. If the black car is chosen, the option for a white interior is not available. 

This will help the user choose the product features and criteria that are most important to them. You can decouple configuration and design data and provide one common definition of data that’s easily understood by each unique role. It enables you to offer greater flexibility, reuse of features, and choice. 

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Benefits of Product Configuration

Product Configurator will help your company manage global feature definitions, promote reuse, and manage global complexity using Dictionary. It will help manage product features and configurations. rules via the simple grid user interface and ensure completeness. Product Configurator serves as a single variant backbone across the whole product definition lifecycle within Teamcenter.

That is, the variability that you define within the Product Configurator can be seamlessly used to configure data to manufacturing process and operations, and ultimately, even manufacturing execution. 

This table explains how Product Configurator can be beneficial across different roles in an organization.

Marketing / Product ManagerMarket-facing product models Market-facing (sales) features Marketing constraintsConfigure marker facing product variants. Develop marketing materials to describe and promote product features.Provide product planning input to engineering and design.
Engineer / DesignerEngineering and technical features Map sales to technical features Technical constraintsEngineering configuration and analysis, such as tracing vehicles, overlay, and clearance. Identify and analyze dependent configurations.Design, clearance for a range of a configurations, at once. Identify if any parts are missing or incomplete for any variant. Directly consume and react to Marketing inputs.
Manufacturing Engineer/ Process PlannerManufacturing and process features Mapping of engineering to manufacturing features Manufacturing constraintsConfigure and define process based on engineering and customer variants. Optimize and balance assembly line based on volumes.Directly leverage engineering Variability and configurations tio ensure process plan consistency without duplication.
Customer / DealerConfiguration available product features. Configuration and visualize customer orders guided by configuration wizard.Configure a product with the features customers want. Visualize customer orders as they make decisions.

Building Blocks of Product Configurator

Teamcenter Product Configurator enables you to formally introduce and manage the variability you wish to offer to your customers across your product suite. Different product configurator elements help you choose product features and criteria that are important to the customers.

Usage of Product Configurator

For example, consider a company that manufactures cars for the North American market. The company wishes to expand into Europe. For Great Britain and Ireland, cars require a right-hand steering wheel and transmission controls. You begin by listing these new features in an option dictionary or configurator context, which collects the variability of your entire product suite so that you can reuse common features across different product lines. The use of dictionaries and multiple configurator contexts supports your product configuration.

Option DictionaryConfiguration Context
Option dictionaries are a good place to start collecting features such as:

  • Option Families
  • Option Values
  • Variability

  • For small or simple product configurations
  • For large or complex product configurations, a configurator context is a better solution to manage variability for your product models and product lines.

  • Not only does it control user access, but collects the features and variability for the product models.

  • At least one configurator context is required for the product configuration to work.

  • A configurator context represents a family of products that may share the same set of option families
  • You can reuse and share the features across multiple configurator contexts and dictionaries. The new feature families are referred to as option families in the product configurator.

    The different options available for these feature families are referred to as option values. A good way to think about this is that option families represent the configuration questions being asked, and option values are the allowed answers to those questions.

    You can group option families with similarities in a common category, referred to as an option family group.

    Each group becomes a separate page in the configuration wizard when you evaluate the variant configuration.

    Deciding to build a car for the island market has many other effects too. The dashboard controls also need to move to the right side. Don’t leave all these features up to the engineer or designer to select. Create configurator rules to make default selections and tell you when your feature selections won’t work. Can you think of other features that might need to change for the right-side steering?

    Summary Options

    Summary options allow you to collect similar option values from a single option family. Summary options make variability rule assignments easy by applying variability to the summary option instead of multiple option values.

    Package options group option families and values together to create a bundle your customers would like to order. Similar to summary options, package options allow you to efficiently author and maintain configurator rules when those rules apply to all option values within the package.

    Product Configurator Terminology

    Here is the summary of different elements or the building blocks of the Teamcenter product configurator.


    A dictionary is a collection of features, making them available to share and reuse. 

    Configurator Context

    Configurator context is the family of products that may share the same set of features.

    Features: Option Family Group, Option Family, Option Values

    You can classify features into option family groups, option family, and option values. 

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    Option Family Group

    An option family group is used to organize option families for view and navigation, as well as used to lead you through a guided interactive configuration.

    Option Family

    An option family may belong to more than one group, and its group memberships may change over time. Option family is a grouping of option values with a similar purpose. An option family may belong to one or more dictionaries or configurator contexts, and family memberships may also change over time.

    Option Value

    Option value represents possible value in an option family. An option value can only belong to one option family. 

    Summary Option Family

    Summary option family is a collection of option values that allows you to summarize the values from the same option family. Summary options typically represent sets of alternative choices. Option values may belong to more than one summary option. 

    Package Option Family

    Package option family is a group of option families that you would like customers to order together in a bundle. Package options contain option values within or across option families. 

    Product Model

    A product model represents a specific market-facing product to be offered. Specific option values from a product line can be made available for each product model.

    Product Line

    A product line is used to group related product models. Product line is a group of products that are closely related to each other by function, customer group, market, or price range. It is less detailed and less precise than product models, as multiple models can be part of a single product line. 

    Configurator Rules

    Configurator rules allow you to specify which options and in which combinations these options are allowed for a given product, a valid configuration, or a customer order. Grid and table-based interactions allow you to efficiently sort, create, and filter large sets of data. You can work in the icon-based grid view while the system constructs the Boolean expressions.

    Define and Manage Product Variability

    Let’s discuss the process of defining product variability and describe how variant data can be managed in the product configurator.

    Creating Variable Products

    Managing a discrete product variant for every possible variant family combination is inefficient and error prone. Instead, you can choose to leverage the commonality across the product and build the variability into the product data. You manage the variable product definition and derive all product variants from it.

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    Once you have identified the commonality in the generic product, you define the valid feature combinations of the generic product, the variant rules and constraints needed to ensure that only the valid combinations are allowed, and the design or part solutions required to satisfy any variant within the range of valid variants. 

    Product Manager Role
    As a product manager, to create variable offerings of products, start by defining the features in the configurator context or dictionary. Then, you define the models and specify the applicability of the features to the respective models.
    Engineer / Technical Specialist Role
    In the role of an engineer or technical specialist, define the part breakdown through the product’s assembly structure, and associate technical features to products based on the required functionalities.
    Configuration Specialist Role
    In the role of a configuration specialist, you apply rules and constraints to allow only technically feasible combinations, create solutions to meet specified feature combinations, and specify conditions for compatible variants of the product. 

    Managing Variant Data


    Dictionaries are configurator contexts which will allow you to share and reuse features across multiple product lines. To make them identifiable, you can add custom images to these objects and create constraints or rules to associate features with the configuration elements.

    Families & Features

    Families and features using terminology that users can understand. For example, colour can be the name of a family for which the features are red and blue. You associate families and their features with an item revision that represents the product library. Families can be set to different data types, namely string, Boolean, integer, floating point, and date.

    You can specify whether the features are single or multi-selection, and also mark families as mandatory or optional for feature selection.

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    Hand Drill Example

    For example, while defining the variant data of a hand drill, you can create features and group them under their family groups according to their function. The hand drill can be selected based on its battery type, power control, spindle, and so on. Variants of this product can be created with different combinations of these features as long as they comply with the configurator rules and the required technical functionalities.

    Using Dictionaries & Configurator Contexts

    Let’s describe the purpose of using dictionaries and configurator contexts.

    What is a Dictionary?

    A dictionary is a collection of families, family groups, and features, making them available to share and reuse. It allows you to formally group or create subsets of family groups, families, and features to reuse between specific products or product lines. 

    Dictionaries provide a natural way to segregate data relevant to each user community. For example, by business units, You can allocate one or more dictionaries to formally create subsets of the features that are relevant to configuration contexts or other dictionaries. You can create different dictionaries for different functional responsibilities. For example, an automotive company may need a vehicle dictionary and a powertrain dictionary.

    The decision to create dictionaries is based on your company choosing not to leverage a separate dictionary, you can create variant data directly within a configurator context for a given product line. 

    What is a Configurator Context?

    A configurator context represents a family of products that may share the same set of family groups, families, and features. 

    For example, cars and vans may be two different product lines that can be represented by two separate configurator contexts.

    A configurator context may be shared by multiple domains like design, engineering, process planning, and others. It ensures that sharing of features, configuration rules, and product content is limited to appropriate groups and products. 

    If your reuse requirements are not complex, you can create a single configurator context and minimize user interactions with it, which is why users typically work primarily in the single configurator context.

    When you are dealing with a broad and complex product configuration, configurator context controls variability by access control, product models, common rules, and product options. It accepts the allocation of features that you can make available to one or more product models. It allows any rule to differ to multiple product models within or across configurator context items. 

    Dictionary vs Configurator Context

    For small or simple product configurations, option dictionaries are a good place to start collecting features such as option families, option values, and variability.

    However, for large or complex product configurations, a configurator context is a better solution to manage variability for your product models and product lines. You can reuse and share the features across multiple configurator contexts and dictionaries.

    Availability Bias

    When you are creating a new configurator context, you must specify the availability bias in the dialog box. 

    When positive availability bias is set to true, all features allocated to the configurator context are implicitly available for all models within that configurator context. When set to false, features are not available for product models unless availability rules are created. 

    Note, once you create the configurator context, you cannot change its availability bias. 

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    Types & Behaviors of Variant Families

    This topic describes the types and behaviors associated with variant families.

    Families & Features

    Families and features are the basic objects of any variant scheme, such as dictionaries and configurator context. Families represent configuration questions being asked, while features are allowed answers to those questions. You can create a family and its features using terminologies that users understand. For example, a family named color can have features such as red and blue.

    You can then associate families and their features with respective item revisions that represent the product library. 

    Family Characteristics – Data Types

    • Each family has a data type, which will be set to string by default. You may set the data type in its column in the variability explorer.
    • You can also choose whether the family is a single select or multi-select family. Setting the multi-select column to true will allow users to select multiple features from the same family for a product configuration.
    • For example, you can set car accessories as a multi-select family on which users can select multiple accessories to be included in their car. By default, the multi-select column will be set to false.
    • Similarly, you can choose whether the selection of features from a family is mandatory or optional. The optional column will be set to false by default.
    • The freeform column indicates whether users should type a freeform text, a string freeform value, or pick from a list when specifying a value. If it is set to true, users are required to type values manually when configuring. By default, the freeform column is set to false.

    What are Configurator Rules?

    Based on customers’ requirements and choices, organizations typically offer multiple variants of a product. However, such configurations are always limited to those that the design engineers permit during the creation of the design. 

    Configurator rules, which are sometimes called variant constraints, allow you to specify which features are allowed and in which combination they are allowed, thereby defining the valid configurations of a product. 

    We create configurator rules to restrict or warn users of unsupported combinations when they perform a configuration activity. 

    When the user tries to select one of the feature combinations restricted by the configurator rule, Teamcenter displays a message of the appropriate severity, be it a warning, an error, or an informative message.

    The rules guide not only internal product development, but also guide the customers to specify valid choices and make compatible selections. 

    Types of Configuration Rules

    There are five different types of configurator rules.

    Availability Rule

    Availability rule is applied when a selection is not made by a user or an inclusion rule and the system sets the specified feature for a configuration. 

    For example, for availability rules, the severity must be selected as error.

    Availability rules are applicable when false is selected for positive availability bias while creating a configurator context. When positive availability bias is set to false, none of the features in the configurator context are available as default and availability rules must be created to specify the features available for selection for the subject.

    When positive availability bias is set to true, all the features in the configurator context are by default available to be selected. The user can override availability rules by other types of configuration rules. An availability rule specifies what options are available for a product. Any option from the available options is valid for a product unless it conflicts with the other rules. For example, for the product model SortsCar, we can set valid colors, engines, and engine power selections using the availability rules. Default rules are used to specify the default subject and applicability combination.

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    Inclusion Rules

    In inclusion rules, when the specified features in the configuration are selected, additional features are automatically selected as defined. 

    The user cannot override exclusion rules. Inclusion rules specify the features which should automatically be included in the configuration when the applicable feature is selected. For example, if a standard car is selected from the car family, a rule can be defined to include standard wheel cap and standard wheels in the configuration. Inclusion rules may also be defined without an applicability condition, where the selected feature is unconditionally included in all configurations. The user cannot override inclusion rules. Freeform rules are created in a multi-line editor using the SMT lib scripting language. They allow you to build complex expressions based on the defined features in the configurator context.

    Exclusion Rules

    In exclusion rules, when the specified features in the configuration are selected, additional features are automatically excluded as defined.

    Exception Rules

    Exception rules define exception conditions for a dynamic family. 

    Free-form Rules

    And freeform rules allow you to bundle multiple constraints under a single revisable workspace object with one owner, one approval process, one responsibility, and one effectivity when it has the same severity level. 

    Teamcenter Product Configurator – FAQs

    What is the difference between Teamcenter Product Configuration and Classic Variants in Teamcenter Structure Manager?

    The main difference between Product Configurator and Classic Variants is that the Product Configurator business objects are de-coupled from the product data. It can be used across multiple structures.

    In which of the scenarios would Teamcenter Product Configuration be useful?

    Choosing a product based on choices of several feature combinations

    What is the key difference between dictionaries and Configuration Contexts (CC)?

    Dictionaries contain families, family groups, and features whereas CCs can also have a family of products along with families, family groups, and features

    Does Teamcenter Product Configuration included in AWC client?

    Yes, Teamcenter Product Configuration is included in AWC client

    Does Teamcenter Product Configuration replace Structure Manager?

    No, Teamcenter Product Configuration doesn’t replace Structure Manager

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