At the 2014 Siemens PLM and MOM analyst event, held the first week of September in Boston, Siemens updated the industry analyst community on progress on numerous fronts and provided insight into its strategy going forward. The biggest announcement was that the Siemens SIMATIC IT and WinCC HMI/SCADA product group would become part of a combined Siemens PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management) business unit.
This move should bode well for users, as it brings together all of the Siemens manufacturing software solutions together that can support the manufacturing value chain and lifecycle. However, it has been a long time coming. The rest of the announcements and briefings focused on demonstrating Siemens' progress in meeting industry solution and product development milestones the company revealed in past years. This annual gathering of Siemens management and the press and analyst community not only includes updates from Siemens management, but delivers some proof-points, with customers providing case studies of how they are using Siemens' products and services.
One of the strongest validations of Siemens' strategy of openness was provided by Daimler, which is migrating its CAD/CAE environment to Siemens NX. Already a Teamcenter user, Daimler was faced with having to switch to a different collaboration platform if they wanted to upgrade to the latest version of the competitors CAD/CAE tools as the competitor required implementation of its own collaboration platform to upgrade the CAD/CAE program. The advantages of the open Teamcenter workflow and collaboration framework appeared to outweigh the pain of migrating the CAD/CAE toolset, so Daimler made the decision to go the other way and switch to NX. Siemens has been at the forefront of supporting open standards in the PLM community--exemplified with the support and eventual acceptance of JT as an ISO standard and this support for openness will likely continue to pay off going forward.
PLM Message Is Siemens can Help You “Realize Innovation”
Eighty percent of the time at the event was devoted to an update of Siemens PLM products, strategy, and customer use cases. Much of that time was spent showing how Siemens' portfolio of PLM tools for CAD/CAE, collaboration, application lifecycle management for software, and specialty engineering solutions like Fibersim for composites engineering and LMS for mechatronics simulation can help businesses, both large and small, be not only innovative but highly competitive. Underlying the portfolio of solutions, both Siemens' own and partners', is Teamcenter, which serves as the integration bus that enables everything to work together and integrate with other applications. Siemens takes a strong position on openness and this is serving it well in the marketplace. There is no doubt that Siemens continues to invest in PLM and that PLM is core to Siemens' overall industrial software strategy. Case studies by end users and industry-specific sessions demonstrated that Siemens is a powerhouse in the space.
But Siemens is not invulnerable in the PLM space. This year Siemens made much of its 3D and simulation capabilities, but Dassault Systemes has been pushing the boundaries of 3D for more than four years already. Likewise, at the event this year Siemens acknowledged the coming impact of the IoT (Internet of Things), but did not emphasize it and did not offer much in the way of insight on how it intends to deal with the IoT’s transformative effects, in contrast to PTC, which has been investing heavily in IoT technology and acquisitions (i.e. ThingWorx and Axeda).
Siemens also discussed service lifecycle management as a concept but offered few details on how it plans to completely address that opportunity. Now that the SIMATIC IT products are going to be brought into the PLM fold, Siemens may be better able to demonstrate how it will address the design to manufacturing aspects of the batch and process space, moving beyond PLM to MES strengths that it possesses for discrete manufacturers. There are numerous elements of the SIMATIC IT solution set that could bolster Siemens' process PLM offering including plant engineering and simulation with COMOS, which is becoming part of the Process Automation business (together with DCS and APC within Process & Drives) and specification management, formulation management, laboratory information management, and electronic lab notebook with SIMATIC IT R&D suite. The new division encompassing PLM, MOM, and IBS quality offerings will be the "Digital Factory" within the PLM business.
MOM Messaging Not as Vibrant as PLM Story
Siemens spent the remaining 20% of its time with the analyst and press community updating its complete MOM solution story. Unlike the PLM sessions, Siemens personnel delivered the entire MOM message. They provided a few end-user example,s but the customers were not present to bring life to the words. As with the PLM portfolio, Siemens' MOM solution set has been built over time through acquisitions over the last decades. Updates on the IBS quality management solution and the Preactor planning and scheduling software showed that Siemens is beginning to exploit the breadth of functionality and customer business value that these products add to the portfolio. However, like the PLM message, it was a demonstration of steady progress rather than revolutionary leaps ahead. Yet Siemens remains ahead of its competition in putting together a portfolio of solutions that coordinate MOM and PLM functionality.
The future approach to MOM integration across the large and diverse Siemens portfolio is one of a backbone/framework that links communications and databases as opposed to a common platform and modular apps. This is an incremental move, using existing Siemens technologies, that is in the direction (but still short) of LNS Research’s vision for a MOM Integration and Collaboration Platform.
Rather than build a tightly integrated and simplified MOM environment, Siemens plans on providing Web services wrappers around the existing applications programming interfaces to allow the different products to communicate and interoperate. In addition, Siemens plans to harmonize and expose critical database information that support the complete manufacturing lifecycle across their different product offerings. Much like it has done with its PLM offerings, Siemens also intends to update SIMATIC IT and other portfolio user interfaces to be multi-platform and mobile using HTML 5.
The power of the PLM-MOM combination in taking products from design to production was articulated and Siemens showed they understood how all of its products support that vision. LNS Research’s MOM model encompasses additional important Operational Excellence functionality not covered by the current Siemens MOM vision (i.e. human capital, asset performance management, environment/health/safety).
Where we see MOM as being one of the enterprise-level foundations of operational excellence, Siemens positioned its MOM strategy more as an outgrowth of integrating its MES, HMI/SCADA, Quality, Planning & Scheduling, and PLM portfolio and business unit. Siemens did state that its future MOM backbone/framework will ultimately be openly published for other third parties to leverage; however, this is probably years away as the initial goals are to make sure the Siemens portfolio works well together.
Siemens did show appreciation for the impact that technologies like IoT, cloud, big data and mobile will have, and it provided some insight as to how it sees them affecting its products going forward. However, Siemens did not describe them as transformative, but more as color to its main “Realize Innovation” story.
Siemens' annual analyst event is a good time to assess past progress against future vision. On the plus side Siemens has well-dones for its strong customer support, openness, and steady progress in expanding its PLM and MOM portfolios to deliver more capabilities to its customers. Its vision of providing a complete set of tools from product design through process design and then to manufacturing operations is taking shape. The company clearly recognizes the role that embedded software will play in products going forward, demonstrated by its investment in partner Polarian. With a broad portfolio of MOM and PLM capabilities it offers one of the richest functional footprints. Customers that spoke at the event clearly believe Siemens is delivering capabilities needed to run their businesses.
There is still more the company needs to do though. Progress towards its vision, while steady, has been slow. Siemens is faced with supporting a vast portfolio of products that can interoperate but are not built on a common platform or underlying development toolsets. It has yet to articulate a solid asset performance management offering strategy despite having most, but not yet all, of the functionality it needs to take a strong position in the space. The company still has much to do in process and batch industries to craft the same kind of functional richness it offers its discrete and engineer-to-order customer base. Finally Siemens is behind its competitors when it comes to leveraging 3D modeling and simulation, and the impact the IoT is going to have on product design and operations going forward.
Siemens remains a good choice for many manufacturers and last week’s event highlights that while it may not bei moving as fast as some competitors in some areas, overall it continues to be a reliable supplier that is investing heavily in bringing a rich set of tools to the market to help its customers “Realize Innovation.”
*This article was written with contributions by LNS Research's President & Principal Analyst, Matthew Littlefield, and Principal Analyst, Mark Davidson.