It is that time again! Every year, in the fall, Siemens PLM holds an analyst event where they provide an update on their perspective on the industry, their overall strategy and updates for their products. This year, it was the week of September 7th.
This post provides an update on Siemens PLM‘s strategy for engineering solutions based on that information. This includes:
- View and Vision of the Market
- Strategy Driving their Technology Solutions
- Strategy Driving Specific Products, including Teamcenter and NX and
- Corporate Personality
Note that several new products have been launched or acquired within the past year, including Catchbook and Omneo. Those will get dedicated posts to look at their capabilities specifically. Furthermore, there are a number of initiatives that are driving development across multiple products, which will also be covered in other posts.
Let’s get started!
View and Vision of the Manufacturer’s Needs
First off, Chuck Grindstaff, the CEO of Siemens PLM, laid out their perspective on the industry and how they think manufacturers need to respond. This is a paraphrase of those comments.
Products are getting smarter and more complex. There is a need to introduce new products faster. Technology is fundamentally changing business models. Manufacturers need to transform in response to remain competitive and be successful. They must transform in a way to realize Smart Innovation, which fosters important new products in efficient new ways.
The strategy to realize smart innovation is Digitalization, which involves the digital thread throughout the value chain including ideation, realization and utilization. From a technology perspective, that strategy is supported by a Smart Innovation Portfolio. For Siemens PLM, that Smart Innovation Portfolio includes their software systems and applications.
My Take: It is hard not to agree with Chuck on these points. Manufacturers are faced with competing pressures including time, budget, costs as well as the need to offer compelling products. So you can’t forsake everything to just innovate. You have to do it in a constrained and efficient manner. I also think he’s right in that developing a Digital Thread can help in that regard. It helps in that it acts as the single source of truth, allows everyone to collaborate around a single definition, acts as a means to simulate product performance and characteristics. In all, it is a good and accurate vision.
Strategy Driving their Technology Solutions
Here, Chuck and others laid out four fundamental themes that are characteristics of the Smart Innovation Portfolio that they offer. Over the course of the four day event, these themes were consistently cited again and again by owners of different product and industry segments. They were clearly on the same page.
- Engaged Users: This is about getting the user the right information at the right time in the right context. The benefit is greater participation and decisions based on more informed stakeholders.
- Intelligent Models: With this concept, Siemens PLM is talking about building smarter models that know what they are and how they are made. No, this isn’t some kind of artificial intelligence. But what this means is that everything has the right context. As an example, simulations are connected to the requirements they must satisfy. This connectedness creates the traceability within Digital Thread mentioned before.
- Realized Products: The idea here is to allow organizations to merge the virtual with the real. This means plugging test data back into the design model to emulate the real world. It means merging factory scanned data into line layout design. This delivers realistic insight into products and production.
- Adaptive System: The point here is that technologies behind this Smart Innovation Portfolio must be easy to deploy and flexible for tomorrow. This ensures fast time to value and long term ROI for the technology.
My Take: The first and last of these concepts are straightforward and sound. These are longstanding concepts that most software providers embrace to varying degrees. In that light, The difference, of course, is how these ideas manifest themselves in the products themselves. We’ll cover that more in the following sections.
The second and third concepts are more nuanced and complex. Intelligent Models speaks to the need for the right context for any activity and traceability. There is great value here, especially in delivering that context to the right user at the right time, which is the first of these themes.
The idea behind Realized Products is something that not many other providers are talking about at this stage. This is because of the testing management capabilities that came over as part of the LMS acquisition and the Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) capabilities gained through the Camstar and other acquisitions. This is where some unique offerings can be delivered. Manufacturing organizations can get a lot of value here.
New Capabilities in Siemens PLM Products
In addition to getting some insight into Siemens PLM development strategies, there was a lot of details on enhancements to Siemens PLM’s various products. In this context, where we’re looking at engineering solutions, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into Teamcenter and NX. Note that LMS solutions and all manufacturing will be covered in other posts.
Teamcenter, Siemens PLM’s PLM Offering
- Teamcenter has further transitioned into the platform strategy they announced a couple years ago. Essentially, Teamcenter functionality is made available through an API. Those APIs are then used to build out apps. Siemens is building out industry specific apps. This provides more flexibility in terms of how you upgrade your IT systems. It means you can upgrade a version of Teamcenter without affecting the app. You can also upgrade a version of the app while still using the same version of Teamcenter. It gives a lot more flexibility. This is true of both internal and external partners. For example, Polarion, one of Siemens PLM’s Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) partners, has used this approach to embed some software configuration management functionality within a Teamcenter app.
- Active Workspace (AWS), which is a modern web-based flexible interface, continues to be primary interface for using Teamcenter. It is the means by which different roles can execute specific workflows. It offers many advantages over the traditional client-server set up.
- From an infrastructure perspective, there are several things of note for Teamcenter. It is now hosted on-premise or on the cloud (IaaS). They tout that it can run anywhere on any device, including smart phones and tablets. And lastly, it can now be accessed through a subscription model.
- There are hundreds of enhancements to Teamcenter; too many to mention here. Details on all of the enhancements are shared every year at Siemens PLM’s user event PLM Connections.
NX, Siemens PLM’s CAD Offering
- A variety of enhancements and capabilities are now in NX, including subdivision modeling, 2D Synchronous Technology and specialized engineering capabilities from Fibersim (composite modeling), Synchrofit (riveting) and Mastertrim (fabric design for things like seats).
- There is now greater support for multi-CAD. You can now import a model in the JT format and, as its geometry is updated in the original CAD application, it will associatively update in the NX model.
- From a NX Simulation perspective, there is more integration between 1D analysis from LMS products into 3D simulations for explicit analyses. Furthermore, NX Nastran enhanced with Virtual.Lab Acoustics. Maybe we’ll be seeing more integration with the Imagine.Lab, Virtual.Lab and Test.Lab products and NX?
- NX has started to dip its pool into the platform pool now too, although it is being referred to as ‘component-ization.’ It is making several ‘services’ available for internal and external partners to leverage to create apps. This has already manifested as several new apps, including Mechatronics Concept Designer, Line Designer, Automation Designer and Electrical Designer. The overall purpose here is similar to what has been done with Teamcenter: make functionality available so that apps can be made from it.
- Another infrastructure note is that NX is now running on several mobile platforms, making it more accessible for those roles that are on the go. Furthermore, NX is also running in a hosted fashion on the cloud (IaaS). The NX Simulation Suite, however, is running as a hosted service (SaaS).
My Take: In this context alone, there is nothing earth-shattering. Although there are many enhancements to these core products. I expect that to continue into the foreseeable future.
Note that these are not all the enhancements for Teamcenter and NX. These, and many other products, are all being heavily driven by specific initiatives that affect multiple products. Specifically, Systems Driven Product Development (SDPD), which I’ll cover in a future dedicated post, is a heavily influence.
After you’ve been to a number of analyst events hosted by different software providers, it is hard not to make out some real differences in their corporate personalities. Siemens PLM, like the others, has a unique one.
Overall, Siemens PLM is not showy or flashy. They don’t come at you with a message that the world is changing beneath our feet. They don’t have the bright lights. They don’t wow you.
What they do, though, is deliver. They seem to have an understated blue-collar mentality. It feels as if they are at yeoman’s work. But most importantly, there is substance here. I’ve seen a lot of technology. And Siemens PLM, by far, offers one of the most meticulously crafted, steadily solid and capable set of solutions around.
They say what they will do. They do what they say. Their vision doesn’t shift on a quarterly basis. Personally, I think that means a lot.