The automotive aftermarket industry is like no other. It has a supply chain dissimilar to many different industries, and ACES XML has been the mainstay of this process for a long time. In addition, the sector needs to use fitment data, which is not found in other industries.
The ACES XML format is a standardized, vendor-neutral file format for exchanging product data in the automotive aftermarket industry. ACES provides a framework to facilitate information exchange among manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and other supply chain partners. ACES files can be used to transmit price data, fitment data, or catalogs of products available from a retailer.
ACES also offers support for multiple languages and allows the user interface to be translated into any language required by the customer using various tools freely available on the internet. In this guide, we will discuss ACES and the XML format.
What Is Fitment Data?
Fitment data represents all information regarding a product and whether it can fit in with particular vehicle models. This is the type of information that is used in the industry as a way to compare product compatibility. ACES and ACES XML have a complicated relationship with fitment data. ACES is designed to store all of this information in the database for use by ACES XML, but ACES does not allow complete customization of fitment data.
Fitment information is essential; it can help manufacturers and suppliers get their products in front of customers who may be more likely to buy them. ACES XML is designed as a way for ACES data to interact with the consumer.
It’s also important to remember that fitment data is a critical asset for eCommerce automotive aftermarket businesses. However, it tends to spoil over time, primarily if it’s not managed and maintained on an ongoing basis.
XML allows ACES data to be included with fitment information in a way that is flexible and customizable for the consumer. ACES XML enables eCommerce automotive aftermarket businesses to manage their fitment data more effectively over time.
Unlike ACES, which does not allow complete customization of fitment data, ACES XML stores all necessary information about products to be shared as efficiently as possible between manufacturers and suppliers on the one hand; retailers and customers on the other. The goal of ACES XML is basically what makes up its namesake: an interchange format for exchanging product information across supply chains using standardized “eXtensible Markup Language” (XML) tags set out in ACES XML Guidelines.
What Is ACES Product Data?
The Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard (ACES) is an industry-specific standard used to exchange product information in the automotive aftermarket industry. ACES Product Data provides an open mechanism for exchanging detailed product specifications with ACES-compliant system participants, including Original Equipment Manufacturers, ACES participants, and ACES Authorized Third Parties. ACES Product Data is the data model for a set of XML files that ACES Participants maintain to publish product information into an available catalog with global visibility.
Manufacturers can share products within the automotive industry by using ACES I standards. These standards include make, year, model, and other designations such as part type. Vehicle make, model, and year are among the numerous details we include in fitment data.
ACES data is formatted into two separate databases:
- The Vehicle Configuration Database (VCdb) – The database contains roughly 60,000 combinations of year/make/model vehicles from the US, Canada, and Mexico. Some are traceable as far back as 1896. For Canada and Mexico, the information goes back to 1942 and 1961, respectively. As for Powersports vehicles, the oldest models in the VCdb are from 1920. This database is maintained by the Auto Care Association and updated roughly once per month. However, any parts that aren’t universal or have fitment information will not have ACES data.
- The Parts Configuration Database (PCdb) – The PCdb database maintains a list of replacement parts, service items, and other similar commodities typically sold by businesses in the aftermarket automotive industry. The database is being constructed to facilitate the storage and retrieval of catalogs on automotive manufacturers. You can use this database to find the process parts you need for your vehicle more easily. When products are classified correctly, there will be fewer mistakes and interpretation gaps in terms of how each product should be used. As such, customer experience also improves.
All ACES files come in an XML format and are available upon signing up with the Auto Care Association (ACA). A component of a single ACES XML file will be information for one brand. Suppliers are advised to cross-check the fitment data they submit with the industry standard to ensure that it is accurate and valid. Whenever there is vehicle part compatibility data missing, catalogs have so-called “application holes.”
These application holes are the most common cause for incorrect fitment data. ACES XML files are used to determine the application hole coverage of a catalog, which is essential for measuring and managing inventory levels. Likewise, these files are used to determine whether a vehicle part is ACES-compatible.
The ACES system is an innovative solution that provides a structured way to collect automotive aftermarket product information from all interested players across the industry to standardize how the technical specifications of these parts are defined and shared. ACES is a global format that captures all the necessary data for a given part from manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and other supply chain partners to make it easier for everyone to collaborate in one system.
ACES provides an avenue to solve this problem by providing ACES XML files as an industry-wide standard that can bridge the communication gap between supply chain partners as well as ensure that no mistakes are being made while transmitting information between said partners.
What Is Extensible Markup Language (XML)?
The extensible markup language (XML) is a computer language that is used to represent data. The XML format consists of tags in between angle brackets and are typically paired with a start tag, which contains the opening character “<” followed by an end tag, which starts with “>”.
XML can be created as well as edited using text editors such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs and is used to define how ACES files are structured. XML is a set of rules that define how data should be stored. XML files are made up of one or more tags, which can either represent text and/or other symbols to describe the structure of data. ACES uses an open-ended system to standardize XML for use between manufacturers and suppliers; because it has no defined limit on what controls may be used within ACES files, each company must define its own limits through its ACES Specification document.
It is important to note that ACES does not require all elements to have attributes – this means that some tags do not need any additional information outside the opening tag itself to work correctly. However, others will require an attribute with a value to work properly. ACES provides a set of tags that are available for use, and these can be used as-is or customized by the user – ACES does not enforce any specific format on XML files.
ACES software can write ACES XML files. ACES XML files usually have the .xml file extension and are typically structured with headings followed by subheadings for each data field. ACES XML files are often used for ACES, PIES, and fitment data exchange between manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and other supply chain partners.
What Is ACES XML?
The ACES XML format is a data exchange standard for the automotive aftermarket industry. It came to be because of difficulties in the information transfer process between manufacturers and suppliers, who use different software programs that don’t speak the same language. ACES was developed as an XML-based export file specification that can be read by any customer using ACES-enabled software.
ACES XML’s origins can be traced back to the ACES, or Automotive Council for Electronic Commerce Standards. This organization was formed in 1999 by General Motors Corporation and a consortium of automotive suppliers. This specific format aims to make ACES-enabled software programs compatible with ACES XML export file specifications.
The purpose of this specific format is to make ACES-enabled software compliant with ACES XML formats to share information between manufacturers & suppliers who use different software programs that don’t speak the same language.
The ACES council works closely with PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard), another standard developed by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). These standards work together well because both offer open registration processes and can be used as secure methods of exchanging ACES data.
ACES and PIES can work together in part because they both publish open registration processes. This means that new ACES or PIES participants can make their product information available for sharing online through ACES XML export file specifications.
ACES XML is a structured and extensible data format that uses commodity standards to define how products are represented in ACES databases, transmitted on networks, and stored for retrieval. In addition, ACES XML provides a secure method of exchanging ACES data.
XML is used extensively in the automotive aftermarket industry to help facilitate information exchange between manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and other supply chain partners. ACES XML can be used as an interchange format for ACES-related transactions; however, it should not be considered a replacement for ACES messages or PIES when they are appropriate.
PIES was created by the Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association (APMA) to provide automakers with fitment information about parts from vendors that may not have been part of their original OE supplier base but who meet specific standards.
One significant benefit of ACES XML is its ability to store more than just basic product information such as name, UPC Code, year/make/model, and other details. ACES XML can also store additional ACES-related information such as ACES message IDs and PIES data.
- Product ID: ProductID is a unique identifier assigned to each product or group of products that are part of the ACES partner ecosystem.
- Part Number: PartNumber provides an incremental, persistent identity for each physical unit in a listing from one entity to another (e.g., manufacturer -> retailer).
- PIES Data: ACES messages contain fitment information about parts from vendors who may not have been part of the automaker’s original supplier base but meet certain standards required by automakers when it comes to developing their OE catalogs.
How to Export ACES XML to Other Formats?
ACES XML is also used in other industries such as the military, medical manufacturing, electronics, and oil & gas pipeline construction.
The issue that ACES is facing is the different specifications for technical drawings and catalogs in companies that sell their products in other countries. If you are trying to convert proprietary files into ACES XML, it may not be possible.
One example of this is exporting your ACES XML file from Corel Draw version X to Adobe Illustrator, which will require you to use a third-party software called SketchLab Studio that converts one type of ACAD file into another. This problem persists with many other programs because many existing ACAD programs do not support ACES XML.
For a CAD app to be ACES compliant, it needs to provide users with ACAD drawing tools that save their work in ACAD formats. In the SolidWorks example mentioned above, one of its features is compliance with all existing standards such as ANSI and ISO Standards. However, some companies do not have copies of all software, which is why there are sites where users may upload their ACES files and convert the format into other types.
ACES XML is a converting service that offers an online web-to-PDF converter. While this may come with some specific disadvantages, including the inability to view design files in PDF format only, it does allow you to take your design from CATIA and save it in a variety of formats. These can include SVG output, which is vector graphic based for use in Google Docs. ACES XML can be exported in a variety of formats such as JPEG and graphic files.
You will need to export the ACES XML to CSV and then convert it through Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. You can also export ACES XML for several different file formats, including CATIA, DGX (Design Graphix), PIES/DLLS data file formats, and many other conversion tools available online without any licensing fees.
Some ACES providers also provide a system that will allow you to convert different types of files with relative ease, and this can be useful if you’re in a hurry or without much know-how.
While ACES TXT files aren’t actual XML documents, they contain both the formatting and standardized tags that are part of the ACES standard.
How Evokat Premier Can Help
Evokat Premier is a cloud-based digital platform driven by the latest versions of ACES and VCdb, so all information is always available to you. You can search for your car and find out any metadata associated with it.
The mapping process is highly customizable. You can either use a typical make/model definition or you can add more detailed information such as engine types, fuel tanks, chassis types, and so on. Evokat Premier software is capable of editing the associations between different parts of your catalog and across multiple catalogs. This way, you will be able to interact with external sources like suppliers or manufacturers.
Evokat Premier is a vital software component when attempting to upgrade the company’s auto parts catalog. The technology provides access to data about not only performance specifications but also design manuals and assembly instructions that may be vital for product variations. Evokat will deliver an easy-to-implement solution to inaccessible data by helping identify errors with product information.
Easy-to-use dashboards and charts will periodically show the health of your fitment data. They’ll also provide clear metrics regarding any trouble areas, as well as ways to ease these problems. Evokat offers accessible and customizable reports in their automobile catalog management to help both dealerships and manufacturers. Evokat can fix any encoding issues. It formats and converts XML for easy communication with suppliers, partners, and customers.
To better put things into perspective, ACES XML is a type of data that can be easily read by the ACES software. ACES, or Automotive Catalog Exchange Specification, provides auto manufacturers and suppliers with an easy way to share their information without sacrificing quality control.
Evokat’s ACES specialists provide customized solutions for any ACES-related problem your organization may have. They offer consultation on how to best use these standards in order to maximize efficiency and effectiveness within your company while complying with current industry regulations.