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Digital Transformation Picks up Speed

By Larry Adams Contributing Writer, SME Media

Fostering human-centered innovation by developing powerful, easy-to-use tools is at the heart of the new products, enhancements and services showcased during the Siemens Digital Industries Software 2020 Media & Analyst Conference, a two-day virtual event hosted by the Plano, Texas-based company on June 16 and 17.

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Siemens adds Modern Cloud PLM to Xcelerator Portfolio with New SaaS Offering.

Building off of its Xcelerator portfolio, the company highlighted product developer tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, lifecycle maintenance offerings, and a plethora of Cloud-based services that are meant to help fulfill the company’s three business imperatives: digital-twin technology; a personalized work approach; and a flexible open ecosystem, said Tony Helmmelgarn, president and CEO.

Virtual Representation

This digital-twin concept bring the digital world to the physical ream, but Siemens’ digital twin concept is not just a virtual representation of a physical product or process, said Helmmelgarn. “A digital twin has to cover the entire product and production lifecycle. It must include a closed loop to ensure that action performance statements are fed back into models that are continuously refined.”

Digital-twin modeling is already helping customers adapt to disruptive changes such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which Helmmelgarn said might be the “ultimate catalyst that pushes humans to completely embrace digital transformation.”

Helmmelgarn shared several digital-twin case studies, including VinFast, the Vietnam-based car maker. It went from making cars to producing 55,000 ventilators a month using Siemen’s digital-twin concept. “The movement from autos to ventilators is much easier said than done, but in just under three weeks, VinFast engineers succeeded in improving and mastering ventilator manufacturing,” he said.

User-Centric Development

To enable application development, the company expanded and enhanced its Mendix low-code software development tool platform that provides tools to build, test, deploy, and iterate applications. It is a visual drag-and-drop “citizen’s developer tool,” said Helmmelgarn. “It gives people at any level of technical ability the capability to develop apps.”

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The E/E system helps design, manufacture and service electrical systems. The portfolio is now expanded to encompass E/E system and software architectures, network communications and embedded software development.

Mendix was crucial to the development of new Cloud-based services, said Brenda Discher, senior vice president of strategy and marketing. “It is the core of our of all cloud offerings,” she said, including the company’s new Teamcenter X and Teamcenter Share applications, both of which are part of the Teamcenter portfolio. 

Teamcenter X is a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution that provides instant-on access to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) product. Companies of all sizes can connect people and processes across functional disciplines on the Cloud to create a complete digital twin, without the IT resources traditionally associated with on-premise PLM deployments, said Joe Bohman, senior vice president for Teamcenter.

Teamcenter Share is a cloud-based project collaboration service that allows stakeholders to synchronize desktop files to cloud storage, even common services such as Dropbox, where they can view and mark up all common CAD formats from any device.

New Sketching Dimensions

Another of the company’s Xcelerator products enhanced in part through the Mendix platform is NX Sketch software. Users can sketch without pre-defining parameters, design intent, or relationships—information that is not always known by the user upfront, said Bob Haubrock, senior vice president, product engineering software.

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Artificial Intelligence-powered CAD sketching technology.

Using AI to infer relationships, recognize tangents and other design relations, and to adjust on-the-fly, users can move away from paper hand sketches and create concepts with NX software. According to the company, NX Sketch makes it easy to work with imported data, allowing rapid design iteration on legacy data, and to work with tens of thousands of curves with a single sketch.

New Lifecycle Management

Fitting in with the company’s drive for an open ecosystem, Siemens announced a new partnership with IBM that Helmmelgarn said gives its customers “access to a diverse field of partners.”

The Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) service is designed to optimize assets by “dynamically connecting real-world maintenance activities and asset performance back to design decisions and field modifications,” he said. The SLM service establishes an end-to-end digital thread between equipment manufacturers and equipment owners by leveraging elements of the Xcelerator portfolio and IBM’s Maximo asset management software.

OEMs and owner/operators can struggle to improve the performance and reliability of an asset over its operating lifecycle, due to inefficient data sharing between engineering, operations, and maintenance departments. By developing this integration with Maximo, Siemens is able to close the loop between product and plant, said Yishai Barak, director, Service Lifecycle Management. Barak said that through the use of Xcelerator products, companies can link the product lifecycle to a plant or asset lifecycle.

Using an underwater oil drilling example, Barak said that an equipment problem might costs millions of dollars, not to mention the environmental considerations that must be heeded. Information on all of the equipment and assets are critical for compliance, traceability and other considerations. “You need to have a clear and accurate representation [of assets] at all times,” he said.

Solving wire complexities

Another use of the Xcelerator portfolio was addressed by Martin O’Brien, senior vice president of Siemens Integrated Electrical Systems, who outlined the complexities of a modern wire harness design that powers and controls the vast number of electrical components found in today’s automobiles and other end uses.

Capital, the company’s electrical/electronic (E/E) systems development software portfolio, is integrated with other Xcelerator brands such as the Teamcenter portfolio for product lifecycle management, NX software for mechanical design, and Mendix low-code development environments.

This example and others highlighted at the event describe a changing workplace, one in which Siemens wants to keep pace, said Discher. “We want to deliver the future faster than any other vendor for our customers,” she said. “We want to help our customers build tomorrow’s products today.”

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