Product Lifecycle Management

Siemens PLM Shares Strategy and a Glimpse of What’s Ahead

26 Sep, 2013 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

As it remains focused on continually shoring up Teamcenter’s core architecture, the company announces plans for Industry Catalyst apps designed to address the needs of specific markets.

In the realm of modern manufacturing, fast has been key: Product developers can’t be slow to market and expect to survive. But today you also have to be smart. That requires building on a platform of best practices and solid business strategy while understanding and responding to the needs of customers.

Interestingly, that’s precisely the approach of Siemens PLM Software in developing the product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, Teamcenter, that supports manufacturing customers. The foundation of the software is a “future-proof architecture” — a platform that is open and interoperable as well as scalable, offers flexible deployment options, and is upwardly compatible to protect a customer’s long-term investment in the software.

Steve Bashada, senior vice-president, industry strategy, said, “We want to ensure future proofing, that our product releases are smooth and fast” and help customers execute key processes and move forward without complex system configuration. Bashada was addressing attendees at the annual Siemens PLM Software Analyst and Media Conference in Boston this month. He explained 70% of manufacturing practices are common across all users and can be addressed by a single platform PLM solution, while the other 30% are specific to a given customer and typically require customization. But that is changing with the company’s announcement of its Industry Catalyst Series, offerings that consist of a prepackaged combination of industry best practice guides, templates, and software designed to accelerate PLM deployment and tailor the system to the needs of specific industries while reducing the need for customer-specific customization.

“What we hope to see happen is to reduce the 30% customer-specific practices to 10%,” Bashada said, “with 20% being industry specific. … We hope that the industry-specific adoption improves in this way.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “the most important thing is the industry solution itself.”

CEO Chuck Grindstaff and his executive team answer questions from attendees at the Siemens PLM Software Analyst and Media Conference.

Siemens PLM also announced a new product in the Teamcenter portfolio called Active Workspace, a personalized environment for instantly accessing 3D information. Working in conjunction with other Siemens PLM Software technology, Active Workspace is designed to bring together this information in instantly available, visual representations that support decision-making.

Manufacturing Matters

Chuck Grindstaff, CEO and president of Siemens PLM Software, established context for the two-day media event — and for his company’s products — by emphasizing the importance of manufacturing. “Manufacturing matters and has always mattered. Success in society is almost always correlated with advances in productivity, technology, and manufacturing,” he said. Of the top economies in the world, he explained — including the United States, Germany, China, and Japan — every one has a strong focus on manufacturing.

Today, he said, “Manufacturing is strong. It is a huge contributor to the economy globally.” In the United States, manufacturing accounts for 9% of jobs, 12% of the gross domestic product (GDP), 35% of engineers, and 90% of patents. “Manufacturing sustains economic stability and drives growth.”


Grindstaff went on to explain how the industry is changing:

  • The digitization of manufacturing is transforming the way goods are made.
  • Increasing product personalization is supporting a consumer class that is expected to grow by 1.8 billion by 2025.
  • Mass production is transitioning to mass customization.
  • Economic policy is investing in sustainable industries as manufacturing is being revalued for its contribution to enterprise and societal development.

Product lifecycle management technologies are a key part of this picture, aggregating product-related data and delivering the right information to the right person so decisions can be made earlier and better, saving time, money, and wrong moves down the line.

When it comes to Teamcenter, Siemens PLM calls this the HD-PLM Environment, a concept it introduced in 2010. HD-PLM helps users “predict what might happen, examine what did happen, and connect them together,” Grindstaff said. PLM connects mechanical, electronics, software, and manufacturing development, enabling a dramatic increase in development and production productivity.

Siemens PLM focuses its own development on its core tools, including Teamcenter, the Tecnomatix portfolio of digital manufacturing solutions, LMS testing and mechatronics software, Fibersim composites engineering software, Syncrofit for airframe design and manufacturing, and NX and Solid Edge for product design and development. The company looks to acquisitions to expand its portfolio rather than develop tools from scratch. Grindstaff said the company is able to undertake numerous acquisitions “to take us into the future and ensure we can meet future needs of customers because business is quite good for us around the world.”

New Industry Catalyst Series

Over the course of the Boston event, Siemens PLM executives repeatedly emphasized the company’s focus on developing tools that support product development in specific markets, including aerospace and defense, automotive, retail apparel (including footwear) and consumer goods, electronics and semiconductors, energy, machinery and heavy equipment, and shipbuilding. PLM is not a one-size-fits-all solution, they said.

To that end, Siemens is developing the new Industry Catalyst Series — eight tools, each of which works in combination with Teamcenter to add PLM features specific to the needs of each user base.

In a press release, Grindstaff stated, “Two years ago we began our transition from a product-focused organization to one focused on the unique requirements of industries. [This] announcement represents a pivotal step forward in that transition. Each offering in the Industry Catalyst Series will be built around a specific industry’s best practices, based on in-depth knowledge we have collected over more than 30 years of working with customers. By imbedding that knowledge and experience in each offering, our customers will not only experience accelerated PLM implementations, but those implementations will be tailored to each company’s business in a way that facilitates the adoption of new technology. The result is more business value, faster ROI, and the ability to benefit from the latest technology as soon as it becomes available.”

Industry Catalysts could include

  • step-by-step guides for optimizing key industry best practices and processes;
  • “deployment accelerators” — that is, proven industry implementation procedures to boost PLM performance and allow rapid PLM adoption at a rapid pace; and/or
  • configuration solution components that personalize the behavior of the PLM system without custom programming.

Two Industry Catalysts — one for automotive functional safety and another for the electronics and semiconductor market — are available now. Versions for shipbuilding and footwear are coming in December, with others to follow. By the end of 2014, Bashada said, there will be a specific Catalyst for each industry. The company aims to bring in partners and, eventually, build an app store that could offer as many as 30 to 40 Catalysts, each simple and straightforward to use.


New Active Workspace

Launched at the event in Boston, Active Workspace is a new product in the Teamcenter software portfolio, another important step toward realizing its HD-PLM vision, the company stated. Active Workspace is designed to provide an intuitive, highly visual, user-customizable environment for nontraditional PLM users who need access to 3D information from a desktop PC or mobile device via any modern browser. Working in conjunction with other Siemens PLM Software technology and designed to adapt to any industry, it brings together information that is spread across unconnected sites and databases and makes it instantly available and easily comprehendible — thereby supporting better decision-making and enhancing the value of PLM systems.

Paul Sicking, senior vice-president, Chief Technology Office, explained that with Active Workspace, “We are aiming for a user experience much like that of a smartphone. … It’s just simple, understood, and works as expected.”

NX and Solid Edge Updates

Jim Rusk, senior vice-president of Product Engineering Software, provided a status report on the NX integrated CAD/CAM/CAE solution, which the company develops based on goals similar to those of its PLM solutions. “We look at planning activities by industry. When we develop a product like NX, we have to work hard to create best-in-class products that are effective across all industries but also meet their specific needs.” Potential improvements to NX are weighted from zero to 100% for relevance to customers across industries. “In the end,” Rusk said, “most functions are pretty balanced in terms of how they average out across industries — in the 60% applicable range when you average it.”

NX 9, coming later this year, will bring several significant updates, including:

  • Embedded subdivision surface modeling to enable new levels of advanced surface creation, integration, and speed via fully associative and reusable NURBS output and core workflow operations with manipulation and editing. “You can create in minutes the shapes that would take hours or days using other tools,” Rusk said.
  • Real-time, ray-traced rendering that is multicore CPU– and GPU-accelerated for instant display of interobject reflections and refractions.
  • NX 2D Layout, developed in response to customers’ needs to work with legacy 2D data and develop new product layouts in 2D, enables rapid changes to curves while maintaining geometric relations. New capabilities will assist with a layout by leveraging 2D components as reusable, associative objects.

For the latest updates about the Solid Edge 2D/3D CAD solution, see recent Cadalyst articles, “Solid Edge University 2013, Part 1: Solid Edge ST6 Adds 1,300 User-Requested Features” and “Solid Edge University 2013, Part 2: Q&A with Karsten Newbury.”

Stay Tuned

Focused on industries that include automotive, energy, machinery, it goes without saying that Siemens PLM Software doesn’t court the little guy. But within those big-business pursuits lies a clear commitment to meeting the specific and critical needs of individual markets and individual users, all aimed at increasing the value of product lifecycle management.

At the conclusion of the two-day Boston event, Grindstaff said that there’s still work to do to improve the company’s offerings: “We don’t think PLM has been solved.”

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