Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Advocating Innovation in Trying Times, Siemens Accelerates Xcelerator Portfolio, Part 1

26 Jun, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

Arguing that the transformation to “a digital mindset” can help companies even during crises, Siemens introduces a new cloud-based version of its Teamcenter PLM solution and more.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced disruptive changes on many companies, from supply chain meltdowns to workflow overhauls necessary to protect employee health. Siemens is among those striving to find the business upside to this very disruptive time. Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, noted during the company’s 2020 Media and Analyst Conference that disasters and crises of all kinds spur innovation — and adoption of more efficient processes. “COVID-19 may be the ultimate catalyst that pushes humans to completely embrace digital transformation,” he said.

Hemmelgarn pointed to a diverse group of Siemens customers — from vaccine makers straining to reduce development time to a city scrambling to address numerous applications for emergency housing assistance — whose efforts during the pandemic have been aided by that transformation. “To me, it’s clear what these companies have in common — it’s a digital mindset,” he observed. In other words, they model, monitor, analyze, and solve real-world assets and challenges in digital tools and platforms.

Mendix, the low-code application development platform that Siemens acquired in 2018, is key to one aspect of this digital problem-solving approach: “It’s the citizens’ developer tool,” said Hemmelgarn. “It’s giving people with any level of technical ability — any level — the capability to develop apps ... whether it’s PLM [product lifecycle management], whether it’s MES [manufacturing execution system], whether it’s IoT [Internet of Things], it’s all built on one common modern low-code cloud architecture.”

Mendix is part of Xcelerator, an integrated portfolio of software and services announced by Siemens last September, and it is the cloud-based architecture used across the portfolio. In addition to Mendix, Xcelerator comprises all of Siemens’s software applications for design, engineering, and manufacturing, as well as cloud and app services powered by the MindSphere Internet of Things (IoT) operating system.

“The Xcelerator portfolio helps create a digital mindset,” Hemmelgarn said. “It speeds the digital transformation cycle and unlocks a powerful industrial network effect. Xcelerator blurs the boundaries between traditional stand-alone engineering domains such as electrical, mechanical, and software. It’s how we help companies remain resilient and transform into a digital enterprise, whether they’re large or small.”

Siemens’s Three Pillars of Digital Transformation

Hemmelgarn explained that Mendix, comprehensive digital twins, and a flexible, open ecosystem are essential components in its ability to help customers complete that digital transformation. “Our strategy continues to be built on three business imperatives: The first is the digital twin, [which] has to cover the entire product and production lifecycle, and must include a closed loop to ensure actual performance data is fed back into models that are continuously refined,” he explained. “Our digital twin is the most comprehensive ... [and] because of the closed-loop approach, it’s also actionable, and it brings true value to manufacturing processes — everything from the very simple processes to the most complex.” Digital twins even have a role to play in social distancing, Hemmelgarn pointed out, helping simulate manufacturing lines and providing real-time visual feedback to keep workers from getting too close to each other.

“Our second imperative is about a personalized work approach, and we provide many paths, no single approach,” Hemmelgarn continued. “We think companies need to work at their own pace, and make these adjustments at their own pace. It’s interesting how many providers have forced customers into specific business models — models like a subscription approach to licensing. And many of these same customers end up coming to us, because they’re looking for a more personalized and flexible approach,” he continued.

“We’re taking this approach even further to our low-code app platform [Mendix], which is foundational to all of our products because we also believe people in the future will not only be users of the technology, increasingly they will be the shapers and even the developers of it. In fact, in the last few weeks interest in our low-code has skyrocketed. People working differently has created an urgent need for agile, flexible approaches to access domain knowledge and build applications, and they want to do it faster than ever before,” Hemmelgarn said.

“Finally, our open ecosystem. We want to help create an industrial network effect. We bring together our suppliers, our customers, our partners, our distributors, all collaborating within an ecosystem.” Hemmelgarn used the example of customers trying to adapt to the pandemic by rapidly switching production to building face shields and ventilators. “They can quickly respond with additive manufacturing, but what about the supply chain and design expertise? No company can do this all by themselves — they need an ecosystem. If you think about it, agile and flexible does not work in a proprietary closed business model.”

Teamcenter Learns to Share

Hemmelgarn announced the addition of two new products to the Xcelerator portfolio: Teamcenter Share and Teamcenter X. Regarding the former, he said, “If you’re using a generic cloud storage solution or network hard drive, we think we have a better answer. Teamcenter Share is a cloud-based, design-centric project collaboration solution with an engineering focus.”

Share users can sync desktop files to cloud storage, where they can view and mark up “all common CAD formats from any device,” and share work with project stakeholders, according to the company. When accessed from mobile devices, Teamcenter Share also provides augmented reality (AR) capabilities, enabling users to view their designs in the context of real-world environments.

Teamcenter’s New X Factor: SaaS

Built on Mendix, Teamcenter X is a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) take on Teamcenter, the company’s venerable PLM suite. “Teamcenter X is a modern, cloud-based, instant-on PLM service for all companies of all sizes to address their engineering and business needs,” Hemmelgarn explained. It supports design collaboration, document management, bill of materials management, and change and requirements management.

According to Siemens, having Teamcenter delivered as a service means that companies will be able to realize value — including creating digital twins — more quickly, while investing less in IT resources. Teamcenter X users can choose from preconfigured engineering and business solutions, such as Engineering Change and Release Management, and add more capabilities as their needs change. “We built out-of-the-box best practices so customers can get to solving their problems as quickly as possible and not spend a bunch of time doing PLM configuration,” explained Joe Bohman, senior vice president for Teamcenter.

Siemens leadership emphasized that the new cloud offering is not a pared-down version of the functionality customers are used to: “Teamcenter X is Teamcenter, and more,” said Bohman. The new solution addresses “the complete life cycle of design, realize, optimize,” he explained. “You can be confident with Teamcenter X that if you ... begin on a project of any size, as you grow, Teamcenter X can grow with you.”

A 30-day free trial of Teamcenter X is available to those who create an account. 

Editor's note: Click here to read Part 2 of this article.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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