The Siemens PLM vision of "Industry 4.0" involves marrying together two disparate data flows – the data for product development and the data for manufacturing. With an unbroken digital chain, manufacturers should be able to define, simulate and control all aspects of the product development and manufacturing processes.
Many IT executives, managers and analysts have been skeptical as to whether this is even possible, at least in terms of practical solutions. In the software industry, on the other hand, there are many firm believers. One of the most credible is Siemens PLMs CEO, Chuck Grindstaff. He points out that never before have technologies for manufacturing and production changed so fundamentally as now. These changes make it possible to merge product design and manufacturing data, and so this is where Siemens PLM is heading.
Its also clear that the German industry giant already possesses many of the pieces needed to fulfill the Industry 4.0 vision. Their PLM portfolio includes Teamcenter and Tecnomatix while the TIA Portal is a unified interface for things like MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) and PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller).
But there are some weak spots that must reach higher levels of standardization before the dream can come true; the coordination and integration between the PLM, MES and ERP systems is one of them. This fact may have been the most important reason for Siemenss announcement in late December 2013 of the purchase of German systems integrator, Tesis PLMware GmbH, including their American operations. No purchase sum is disclosed, but as the integration between PLM, MES and ERP solutions is a critical success factor, its probably worth a lot to solve the problem.
In this article VerkstadsForums Editor-in-Chief, Verdi Ogewell, goes into more depth on how Siemens plans to meet those demands for integration and why Tesis PLMwares ability to integrate with manufacturing, PLM, ERP and other enterprise systems can help.
An idea that created goose bumps
In 2006 Siemens bought PLM developer UGS for $ 3.2 billion. UGS had just the software that Siemens strategists needed to create a comprehensive suite of software tools. The German engineering giant was already advanced in the production field, with strong products for factory automation based on the process control solution Simatic.
After mastering the flow of product on the shop floor, Siemens wanted to connect the pieces that could stitch together all phases of product development. In the UGS software portfolio they found CAx software including the CAD software NX, digital production planning tools (Tecnomatix) and possibly most attractive, the market leading cPDM/PLM solution Teamcenter. With Teamcenter as a backbone they would be able to structure, coordinate and flow data to the production software tools they already had.
The openness of the UGS solutions would also have been attractive, as was the idea of bridging the gaps between the PLM, MES/automation and ERP.
Grindstaff explains that the vision would include an unbroken digital chain that even in the early stages would be able to translate creative ideas not only to finished products - as 3D models – but also contain information on how they would be manufactured. This virtual product by itself would be able to tell what components are needed, how it would be manufactured, and what resources it needs to exploit.
This idea could create goose bumps on any automation engineer at the time.
Dr. Russwurms point of view: "CAN prove to be a revolution"
Siemens spectacularly launched the Industry 4.0 concept at the Hannover Fair in Germany last spring. Dr. Siegfried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens Industry Sector and one of the companys "heaviest" people in power, is careful and says that this "CAN prove to be a revolution". He explains, "I try to avoid the word revolution because the jury still hasnt spoken. If you look at the revolutionary changes that have occurred in production over the last 200 years they have not been assessed as "revolutionary" until a generation or two later. But what we are seeing is rapid and major changes."
How far has Siemens come?
The Industry 4.0 concept envisions a scenario where the designer can know exactly what impact their design decisions will have on manufacturing. Manufacturing experts can feed back to the designer what is feasible with the existing technology. With modern IT, we can now bridge the gap between the product and production design.
What is driving the need for a solution like this?
One of the primary motivators for a solution that connects design to production more tightly is efficiency, which is more than productivity. One must also take into account things like resource efficiency, energy efficiency, and fuel efficiency, which today has a much higher priority than, say, 20 years ago, according to Russwurm.
The second primary reason to integrated design and manufacturing is time from concept to market, which has proven to be a big determinant of sales and profits.
The third factor is an increasing complex operating environment that at the same time demands flexibility. Customers want to be able to configure specific products on the web. Manufacturing companies feel they have to respond to these increasingly sophisticated and differentiated customer requirements. Customers see these trends in some industries and project them on all other products they purchase, which in turn increases the pressure on all manufacturing companies to do the same.
Siemens PLM versus Dassault Systemes
So is the Industry 4.0 concept a visionary body of thought in the style of PLM rival Dassault Systemes (DS) 3D Experience? Well, according to Chuck Grindstaff, "NO!" Where DS has a gap between reality and vision, and require monolithic solutions Siemens is more grounded in the practical reality. DS CEO and President, Bernard Charles, talks about a future where the "3D experience" drives an interaction between end users and manufacturers.
I asked Chuck Grindstaff, about how he sees the difference between Dassaults and Siemenss visions. "Well", he says not without irony, "they (DS) certainly have good reasons to focus on social networking over the Internet, theres a lot of power there. But when it comes to our customers, they still want to have IT support to turn their ideas into products."
His reasoning is sound: Siemens PLM suite, Teamcenter, is the most successful solution in the industrial market and has in recent years been ranked as number one by analyst CIMdata in the segment cPDM (collaborative Product Data Management). Globally, this software has 5.5 million users and Siemens PLM sometimes claims that Teamcenter manages more DS Catia files than DS own PLM/ PDM suite, Enovia.
The TIA Portal is a keystone in the solution
But when I talked to Grindstaff during the recent Hannover Fair he focused on Industry 4.0, which he says is in line with the PLM divisions high ambitions. "It s cool that we managed to put together a demo here in Hannover which so clearly demonstrates our industry vision," he said. "The stand is a perfect illustration of how the virtual parts from the product world moves step-by-step to the physical manufactured part. And everything is so elegant together, the virtual world where we capture the ideas and insert them into computers. We show how to simulate the 3D models, as well as manufacturing processes. Then you can move on to the physical manufacture.
He continued, "Via the TIA Portal we can program the engineers intentions and translate them into operational manufacturing components." The TIA Portal deserves further explanation. This platform makes it more likely that over time, Siemens can come up with a comprehensive solution in accordance with their Industry 4.0 vision.
TIA stands for Totally Integrated Automation. The great subtlety is a unified interface for everything from MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems), PCS (Process Control System) and MC (Motion Control) to things that PLCs (Programmable Logic Controller) and HMI panels for drive technology and security solutions. In short one can control the complete production from a single interface .
Not a wild guess…
Automation is one of Siemens focus areas. With potential savings for users of up to 30-40 percent of the development time for new products, the company sees a bright future here. Siegfried Russwurm tells me that he expects Siemens automation business will be able to grow by 8 percent annually in the coming years, which is twice as fast as the Siemens Industry Sector in general.
A crucial factor to get this growth on track is coordinating the TIA portal with PLM, MES and ERP solutions across the supply chain. And successful integration will, of course, be key to making that happen in actual customer environments.
Its not a wild guess that the purchase of Tesis PLMware plays a significant role in this. Here are a couple of examples of integration solutions developed by Tesis:
1. Teamcenter Gateway for SAP Business Suite (T4S) — a PLM-ERP standard solution which brings together the Teamcenter and SAP Business Suite. T4S was developed by Tesis to provide customers in discrete manufacturing with an intelligent solution for company-wide consistent data and optimized processes that fulfill even the most sophisticated requirements.
2. The bi-directional PLM-ERP standard integration for Teamcenter for Oracle E-Business suite (T4O).
3. Teamcenter Gateway for Enterprise Applications (T4EA) is a third example to seamlessly integrate Teamcenter with the ERP/MES solution PSIpenta, which according to Tesis leads to "dramatically improved business processes and high-quality data – compelling results that have won the support of employees and management alike".
The "Industry 4.0" dream is getting closer, but still its a long way to go. But on the other hand, thats what people use to say about PLM…