The crack between PLM and the non-engineering parts of value added
Munich, 1 February 2017
SAP was founded 45 years ago. At the same time software also began to capture the technical areas. Business data and technical product and production data have remained two separate data worlds to date. Whether this will change in the Internet of things has yet to show.
In the eighties, the business informatics professor August-Wilhelm Scheer, with his Y-CIM model, developed the vision of combining business and technical business processes. Instead, these two threads have remained two parallel process chains to date. The software used has not bridged but rather deepened the gap in between.
What was summarized in "CAD / CAM primarily technical functions" in the Y on the upper right, can be rewritten today with PLM. Incidentally, in this presentation of 1990, only "construction" is mentioned when product development is meant. Neither electronics nor software emerge as core elements of engineering, and certainly not the idea of systems engineering. On this technical side, a lot has happened in the course of the digitalization of the last 45 years.
On the reverse side, of course, too. All business-planning processes of a company are today largely IT-supported standardized. As one of the leading companies, SAP has gained an important position worldwide.
In the last few years, various standard software vendors have taken a new run-up to link the chain of value-added processes. Outstanding positions are found in this regard at Dassault Systèmes, PTC, SAP and Siemens.
Dassault Systèmes has been running the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for years. On this - cloud- and Internet-based platform, there are not only the old CAx and PLM solutions, but also numerous others that leave the pure engineering area or connect it with other company areas and also with areas from the product operations. Social networking and collaborative opportunities are just as much a part of it as data analysis of all kinds. Users of the platform can cover processes, topics or business KPIs, in which they are interested. PAC analyst Stefanie Naujoks therefore wrote after an analysts conference in June 2016: "So I understood why Dassault Systèmes and Salesfoce.com share some common capabilities." (PAC Blog Post 13.6.2016)
PTC has defined the term "Closed Loop Lifecycle Management". By acquiring systems for the management of service lifecycle, software development and systems engineering, and lastly, the technology platform ThingWorx for the Internet of Things, PTC offers its customers the possibility to manage all data, which emerge during the life cycle of a product - including data from the Operation - at a central location. For the part that PTC does not have in the portfolio, especially for production planning and production control, there has been a close strategic cooperation with the customer and partner General Electric, which contributes its own software for MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems). However, thanks to the ThingWorx technology platform, the portfolio of PTC exceeds the pure engineering area and also makes business models and ongoing product use the subject of its software systems.
SAP is no longer the pure ERP provider. And it is no longer only individual business processes for which standard software is offered. For example, SAP PLM has been part of the "Extended Supply Chain" for several years. The customer is to be supported in the creation of a comprehensive data chain that includes the end user and the suppliers as well as the engineers, production experts and plant builders. Only consequently the most recent addition to the chain is the Internet of Things. 3D visualization of engineering data, feedback in the product development from the service regarding operating data and possibly occurring faults - the clear boundary between the two large application areas is also exceeded here.
Siemens has made progress in the integration of its Digital Enterprise Suite. From the development of the product through the production engineering and the production control to the sales and service, the digital twin will actually comprise the entire value added. But already the expansion of PLM around the automation IT is a big step. "Closed Loop Manufacturing" was a typical use case from Siemens, for example, at the Hanover Fair 2016. In doing so, partial functionalities are developed, which until now have generally been more on the ERP side. Can a variant of an electric motor with a reasonable overhead be delivered in the necessary time? And if so, at what price? Such a request, which may come from the Internet from a SmartFactory, can be answered very quickly by Siemens.
The other PLM vendors, from Aras and Contact via Dassault Systèmes and Oracle to Procad, usually see the integration of the business processes as a task, which is realized in concrete projects for the customers, often also through integration partners specializing in such projects.