PLM providers and IoT

PLM-Anbieter und IoT

Munich, January 26, 2017

Now it's finally time and this series can start. There have been enough answers to my questions to provide an overview. And there will be detailed strategy articles about four major providers, which will be published one by one. During the preliminary discussions, it has already become clear: The question is how the providers of industrial software around PLM are positioning themselves to the Internet of Things, how they support their customers to develop and market connected, intelligent products in the future. In this question the series wants to create more transparency.

It is only in recent years that the world has begun to speak about digitalization. For about 45 years, digitalization has been going on, without this term having appeared. In particular, the industry has been very intensely involved in digitalizing its processes, tools and methods since the 1970s. From replacing the drawing board and numeric-controlled machines to fleet management in logistics and order transaction. Also the products for the end user became more and more digital. It was called mechatronics, but always meant the integration of mechanics with electronics and software. The current emergence of the term is probably just a signal for the general acceptance of the fact that the digital has now become the dominant element everywhere, even in the worlds of machine construction, mechanics, manufacturing industry and plant engineering, which was previously completely reserved for the physical.

In fact, something new is happening at the moment. Some call it the fourth industrial revolution or Industrie 4.0, the others call it Industrial Internet (and the third industrial revolution), still others are talking about the Internet of Things. The new is the possibility created by the Internet protocol IPv6, to provide more or less all things in this world with its own Internet address. This allows them to be connected with each other, with people and all imaginable infrastructures on the Internet. They can communicate, deliver data, and allow the analysis of data. In combination with sensors and actuators, cameras, microphones and other digital components, they learn to hear and see, become "more intelligent". Machine learning and artificial intelligence are of practical relevance. Naturally, these products can no longer be created in the same way as the previous ones.

Questions to be asked are, for example: What is changing again in the processes, tools and methods of the industry? Does the industry have to abolish all IT systems and replace them with new ones? Does it have to add new ones and install them next to the older ones? Does it have to change the way IT is deployed, for example through new steps of integration?

For the PLM portal as a news and knowledge portal on the management of product and process data in industry, these issues are of particular importance. What role will PLM play in the future - and thus the whole range of available industrial software? Does the industry still need this, or is it obsolete because on the Internet of things the operating data of products become more important than the product data of the manufacturer? Or is it even more important because the connected real product and its operating data can be optimally utilized only with a consistent PLM, a regular digital twin?

This is the background before which this series of articles is created in the PLM portal. The questions are dealt with on two fundamentally different levels:

  1. On a more general level, all relevant suppliers have received four questions. Some have answered, but not all. These responses are now summarized in four articles in such a way that the reader can gain an overview of the positions of the providers.
  2. Four major vendors, namely Dassault Systèmes, PTC, SAP and Siemens PLM, have made a detailed presentation of their strategy and are investing in expert discussions and the releasing of the respective descriptions. The result will be four articles, which deal exclusively with the positioning of the respective supplier.

With this background series, I hope to help the industry to better understand how the present upheavals affect the technologies that they use or will use in the future.

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