Introduction

Phoenix Integration’s ModelCenter application provides users an environment where they can mix a variety of software applications together to perform analysis and trade-off studies.  PRICE’s TruePlanning cost estimation software was one of the first application to have a dedicated plug-in created to be used in ModelCenter. This document provides guidance on how to install and use the TruePlanning plug-in for ModelCenter. For more information on using the ModelCenter application, please consult the ModelCenter documentation.

Installation

Versions:

TruePlanning versions are considered independent applications and can be installed ‘side by side’. The same is true for the TruePlanning plug-in to ModelCenter.  As seen in the screenshot below, multiple versions of the TruePlanning plug-in can be installed in ModelCenter at the same time and each plug-in version could be used in the same ModelCenter model. Each version of the TruePlanning plug-in targets a specific version of TruePlanning. Multiple instances of the same version of the TruePlanning plug-in can be used in the same ModelCenter model.  In order for a plug-in of a specific version to work, the corresponding version of TruePlanning must be installed and TruePlanning projects need to exist in the appropriate TruePlanning database.

Installation Media:

The installation file: TruePlanningPlugInInstall.msi can be found in the directory TruePlanning is installed in. The default installation directory is under Program Files\PRICE Systems Solutions\TruePlanning_Maj_Min.

Double click TruePlanningPlugInInstall.msi and click through the options to install. The installation will copy the required files to the Component Plug-Ins directory under the directory where ModelCenter is installed. The installation will also add the required entries into the registry allowing ModelCenter to use the plug-in.

Once installed, each version of the TruePlanning plug-in should be visible in the list of components available to Model Center. Select the “component plug-in” entry in the “Server Browser” tree control at the bottom of the Model Center tree.

Usage

ModelCenter Overview

ModelCenter models are comprised of elements (plug-ins) that interact with each other through linked variables. Data flows from one element to the next in the order specified by the ModelCenter model. The flow of data can branch and be based on contentions.

The model depicted below contains a single Excel element. 

When the element was added, an Excel file was targeted. This Excel file will be used by ModelCenter when the model element used. Below it can been seen that one cell in the Excel sheet is defined as an input. It is named ‘Altitude’ and is denoted with a green arrow in the component tree. Three other cells from the Excel sheet are identified as outputs and are denoted by the blue arrows. In the screenshot above the blue arrows have a red “X” on them indicating that they need refreshing.

Adding a TruePlanning plug-in to a ModelCenter model

Start by dragging a TruePlanning plug-in from the list of components.  This will launch the set of screens that set up the TruePlanning plug-in. TruePlanning plug-ins work against existing TruePlanning projects that have been saved into the database. Projects that are used in ModelCenter models are never altered by ModelCenter.

The first step is to pick the Server or database that contains the project to be used. For most TruePlanning users, the default server is the one to use and will be the only option in the pull down. Some users have a centralized database of TruePlanning projects as well as a local database and these users would pick the server that contains the project they would like to target. 

Step two is to pick the project to be used in the model. 

Step three is to select the TruePlanning Inputs and Outputs/Metrics to be used in the model. In the screenshot below the top level project ‘Estimated Cost’ output is selected.  The list of possible inputs and outputs includes all Cost Objects found in the selected TruePlanning project. At the end of each row, there is information that identifies if the row represents an input or an output.

Below the set of selected inputs and outputs is clearly seen. One output, ‘Estimated Cost’ has been selected and three inputs, the ‘Weight of Electronics’ input for three of the Cost Objects in the TruePlanning project have been selected.

Once the three steps have been completed, a summary dialog is presented that shows a tree of selected TruePlanning Cost Objects in terms of the selected inputs and outputs.

Click the “Apply” button and then click “OK”. This will complete the addition of the TruePlanning plug-in to the ModelCenter model. 

Working with the TruePlanning plug-in in a model

In the screenshot below, two elements have been added to the ModelCenter model, an Excel element and a TruePlanning element. At this point, they are not linked. Each has inputs and outputs, but changes to the Excel element, which is ‘upstream’ from the TruePlanning element, will not impact the TruePlanning element. 

To link the two elements, the ModelCenter ‘Link Editor’ can be used. Consult the ModelCenter documentation for the appropriate technique for launching the ‘Link Editor’. Once launched outputs from upstream elements can be mapped to provide values to downstream input elements by dragging and dropping.

As seen below, the WE1,WE2,WE3 outputs of the Excel element are mapped to the ‘Weight of Electronics’ inputs of the TruePlanning plug-in element.

After the two elements have been linked, a visual cue of a small black line with an arrow is provided by ModelCenter, as seen in the screenshot below. Additionally, there are small yellow icons on the TruePlanning element inputs indicating that they are linked to outputs from an upstream element in the model. Also notice that the ‘Altitude’ input for the Excel element is in green which means it can be provided a new value. 

In the screenshot below, the ‘Altitude’ input for the Excel element has been changed from 1000 to 2000. This results in ModelCenter indicating that the other inputs and outputs need to be refreshed, including the inputs and outputs of the TruePlanning element as they are linked to the Excel outputs. 

As can be seen in the screenshot below, the values have been refreshed in ModelCenter. To refresh the model, ModelCenter first updated the Excel file associated with the Excel element. The value of 2000 was put into the cell linked as an input. This results in Excel recalculating the WE1, WE2, WE3 cells, which then get pulled into the ModelCenter model. Then, because the Excel outputs are linked to the TruePlanning element’s inputs, the newly calculated values are pushed into the TruePlanning project linked to the TruePlanning element in ModelCenter and the TruePlanning project is recalculated with the new ‘Weight of Electronics’ values. This results in a new total ‘Estimated Cost’ for the entire project. Previously, with an ‘Altitude’ of 1000, the ‘Estimated Cost’ was $7,449,151,639. With an ‘Altitude’ of 2000, the ‘Estimated Cost’ goes to $7,459,048,284.

Design of Experiments

Once a ModelCenter model has been setup, automated analysis can be performed. The screenshot below shows the setup dialog for a Design of Experiments. Inputs from elements (green arrows) can be pulled into the top part of the dialog. Outputs (blue arrows) can be pulled into the bottom part.  Then a number of runs and a range for the inputs can be set. In the screenshot below the DOE is set to run 10 times with ‘Altitude’ varying between 500 and 2500. 

Below is the result of the DOE run. The results are not surprising, as targeted altitude increases the weight of the electronics increases driving up cost.