Siemens PLM Launches More Comprehensive PLM Capabilities
As products get more complex, what with the explosion in product variations that come with embedded software and advanced electronics, more people need easy access to all the data about those products. Also to be considered is the change in the workforce itself, points out Joe Bohman, senior vice president, Lifecycle Collaborative Software, for Siemens PLM Software (plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us). “Most digital natives expect instant access to available knowledge with minimal training. Most people would like to work from home or another place where they feel more productive. Gartner Inc. predicts 85 percent of businesses will have a BYOD [bring your own device] program in place by 2020.”
This is why the latest release of Teamcenter, the product lifecycle management system (PLM) from Siemens PLM, focuses on being “simple, engaging, effective, and active” according to company officials. Here are some examples to support those objectives.
Reach out to new business processes
The traditional areas of Teamcenter are design management, process control, bill of materials and documentation. The latest version extends into more business processes, such as requirements management, product cost management, systems engineering and supplier collaboration. Materials management, another new area for Teamcenter, supports new manufacturing processes that involve new materials. For example, additive manufacturing uses materials unlike anything found in stamping or forging. Teamcenter’s new common material data definition “houses” (in the virtual sense) these new materials, thereby helping user companies understand what materials they’re using, and helping to ensure these materials are applied consistently in the appropriate manufacturing processes. Initial support for this integrated materials management includes the abilities to search and create records for materials and substances, search for material where used, assign materials to parts, and view material catalogs showing material parameters and substances.
Reach out to multiple design domains
Within the area of systems engineering (what Siemens PLM calls “systems driven product development”), the acquisitions of Polarion (in late 2015; specialty: application lifecycle management, ALM) and Mentor Graphics (in March; specialty: electronic design automation, EDA) strengthen Teamcenter’s delivery of an “unambiguous definition” of a product. (Think RFLP: requirements, functional, logical, physical.) Explains Rohit Tangri, vice president of Teamcenter Product Management, Marketing and Business Development, “Polarion ALM and Teamcenter items are automatically mapped across requirements and change management workflows for better bi-directional traceability. Because hardware and software teams are more productive when working in their native environments, users will be able to initiate change and requirement engineering workflows in either Teamcenter or Polarion.”
These and other Siemens PLM acquisitions are being folded into a federated data model: Different information resides in multiple systems, yet all the systems work as one without the need to replicate data. (That “one,” of course, is Teamcenter.) A significant benefit of this “is traceability across all platforms and visibility to everybody,” says Bohman.
Why is this important nowadays? Automakers are designing “world” cars that have a possible market of 60 to 70 countries, points out Martin O’Brien, vice president and general manager, Integrated Electric Systems Division, Mentor Graphics Corp. “Combine the options of the variances together, you literally have billions of electrical configurations that are possible.”
Too many cars can experience warranty problems not in the mechanical systems, but in the matchup of software with the mechanical systems. Shipping a car with wrong or outdated software leads to problems in product quality as well as serious liability problems. Hence the impetus for robust systems to manage product designs across their mechanical, electronic and software domains—throughout the lifecycle of the product.
The traditional approach for handling product variability was to manage each of the different variations. That’s fine, up to a point. The management effort increases dramatically as the number of variations (i.e., car options) increases. Now, the product configurator in Teamcenter handles product configurations as independent lifecycles—with a single, reusable definition of the variability. This approach enables a more flexible and intuitive rules-based approach for product variability control and analysis.
Reach out to users
Active Workspace “literally puts PLM at your fingertips,” according to Siemens PLM; it’s a “universal viewer” embedded throughout Teamcenter, says Bohman; and information technology (IT) departments have nice things to say about it too because Active Workspace has a zero-install footprint, requires no additional plug-ins, and, where applicable, its touch-enabled interface operates the same and seamlessly on any modern compute device. Active Workspace can also be embedded within familiar third-party applications such as Teamcenter Rich Application Client, Siemens PLM NX and Microsoft Office.
Active Workspace got a new look last year, such as new styling and icons to help distinguish content from commands. Add to that consistent drag-and-drop support and giving users the ability to work across multiple browser windows and tabs. Users can now scroll through attachments “like they were looking through a photo album,” says Bohman. Advanced capabilities let users easily view images, JT, text, PDF and markups, and then extract that content for other purposes in Teamcenter and in external software programs. Add to this smart columns that display fields based on folder contents, command overflow presented better in small mobile devices, and more editing capabilities in various display modes. Users can now easily identify objects that have a release status and quickly see that status. The simple addition of breadcrumb navigation improves multi-selection capabilities and visualizing data. Bringing together data from multiple objects into a single view reduces the back-and-forth needed between chunks of data in order to understand that information.
Last, the latest version of Active Workspace includes a Gantt-chart interface to directly update and manipulate schedules and dependencies, as well as to show or hide critical-path analysis, which the system can calculate across the master schedule and sub-schedules.
Users can insert subschedules into high-level schedules and then, still within the web-based Active Workspace interface, create dependencies between those schedules. Users can change deliverables and due dates, modify the length of tasks, even shift a whole schedule to start on a different day or week. Because the Gantt chart is integrated within Active Workspace, users can trigger notifications in Teamcenter’s Notification Center to all affected people when a schedule has shifted.
Reach out to IT departments
The newly introduced Deployment Center gives IT professionals a centralized web-based tool for deploying Teamcenter and then monitoring those deployments. The center also lets IT upgrade Active Workspace in existing Teamcenter instances, create demonstration or testing environments and consistently deploy any custom software built for those Teamcenter installations. All of this contributes to lowering Teamcenter’s total cost of ownership (TCO).
The switch to the “declarative and extensible framework” in Active Workspace also lowers TCO. This framework, says Bohman, is “a whole new way to extend Teamcenter to new business processes without writing code— moving from a codeful programming model to a codeless programming model.” This change saves time creating and reusing blocks of code that have been proven to work, insulates underlying technology changes, lowers costly downtime to redeploy changes and creates software that requires a smaller memory footprint and is easily scalable. Users and senior execs will be pleased, too: The declarative user interface framework, particularly the re-usable widgets, helps IT departments easily create adaptive PLM environments tailored to a company’s unique business processes.
No question that Teamcenter is reaching out and touching…everything product-related.
By James Gaffney, Product Engineer, Precision Grinding and Patrick D. Redington, Manager, Precision Grinding Business Unit, Norton Company (Worcester, MA)
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