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Key Takeaways from the CIMdata PLM Roadmap and PDT Spring 2021 Conference

By Nordine Marouf

This year 2021 CIMdata PLM Roadmap and PDT Spring Conference was a virtual 2 days event echoing the emerging trends and disruptors in the PLM industry while supporting Digital Transformation.
For those who missed the conference. Here are the key insights I would like to share with you on how we can leverage PLM and cloud technology for market success. You can view the main agenda of the event at this link.


Key Insights from the event

  • BigData, Cloud, mobile devices and IoT are at the heart of Digital Transformation.
  • AR/VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality VR) are bridging the physical and virtual worlds to allow people to interact using mobile devices.
  • Peter Bilello, CEO of CIMdata, emphasized DevOps and Agile methodologies to enable continuous delivery and shorten systems development through an iterative and incremental cycle while improving costs, quality, and time.
  • The digital thread and integration with all these technologies transpire into delivering the business objective of a Circular Economy Transformation.
  •  SaaS PLM cloud solutions need to offer a broad set of functionality, including support for the digital thread, digital twin(s) and other lifecycle trends
  • Learning from mistakes which include machine learning improvements, incremental improvements over time and spending more time in the study phase
  • There are three key ingredients to realizing the value of siloed data in any enterprise: Integration, Visibility and Automation


Some Keynotes from Industry Professionals

Digital Transformation supporting Army Modernization

Dr Raj Iyer, CIO for IT Reform, United States Army, embraced the Digital Transformation with the Cloud architecture at the foundation to improve collaboration and take advantage of the last 20 years investment in PLM. He went through the Army’s PLM journey to explain the challenges of the transformation which was quite huge as per the number of key technology changes supported by their programs. This includes additive Manufacturing, Cyber Risks, Data interoperability, Predictive analysis with AI, Digital Twin, AR/VR, IoT and Blockchain technology. There was also an emphasis on the human factor and change management which was at the heart of the success.


What can Links do in the Engineering Data?

Modern user interfaces are built on links and often run in the browser. Linking can be used to maintain traceability across tools and disciplines. PLM’s current operational challenges are the security to protect people and information with several billion links across websites and computer systems. What do those links bring? Nigel Shaw, Technical Fellow at Eurostep brought an interesting point that Links are at the heart of PLM and the use of APIs leveraging REST for open collaboration. The IoT are also using HTTP and links through service calls. By capturing relationships through links, we can capture interactions between objects and transactions to then enable tracking of changes on our Engineering and Manufacturing processes.

The reminded me of the RFLP concept used by Dassault Systèmes solutions. we can manage a collection of information with links to manage changes and configuration management. It will be of great value to sync multi-discipline model information and systems engineering.

Also, we talk now about multiple Digital Twins not one, which means links will enable to manage families of Digital Twins.


Smart Simplicity. Enabling Digital Technologies for Manufacturing

Shahid Ayub, SVP Key accounts presented the ABB Case Study: “Smart Simplicity”. ABB NEMA is part of ABB Motion developing electrical motors for the US market. He talked about how to utilize configurators for engineering, manufacturing and sales. They have multiple sales configurators leveraging multiple ERP systems. A lot of data redundancy in each configurator was creating inconsistencies and disconnection in the supply chain. They decided to increase Digitalization and started the Smart Simplicity project to improve the process through their PLM and ERP systems. ABB wanted to decrease their ETO (Engineering To Order) process. They used parametric modelling and configuration management which introduced rules in their PLM system (PTC-Windchill) and ERP (SAP) and helped in integration.

The ETO process was not only improved but also reduced from 4 weeks to just 8 days.


Is PLM Driving Your Digital Transformation?

Mark Reisig, VP Product Marketing ARAS, talked about the openness of the PLM platform for access and full control of the data and managing Digital thread. He highlighted the cost of not staying up to date for a company could be as high as $648M with a loss of productivity. To update from 5000 to 8000 users, they need to improve collaboration so is fundamental to expand the Digital Thread with the PLM systems to enable the use of Digital Twins.

Customers of the Aras PLM platform stated that they can upgrade significantly faster, easier and at less costs than customers of competitive PLM products.


Data Integration more than aligning formats

Mark Williams, Project leader from The Boeing Company, explained the evolution from non-integrated to integrated models. There was a gap in the development design phase with a challenge on how to extract the value out of Digital Transformation. With the need to share digital models internally & externally, the complexity to understand dependencies, few of the challenges identified were:

  • Finding the right data, archiving and storing the relevant information
  • Model diversity and relationships
  • Managing thousands of notifications

Digital Transformation relies on PLM and Digital Twin is an answer to manage the challenges. Allowing the simulation and behaviours to validate the product, enabling predictive manufacturing which helps in decision making, there was a need for standards and methodologies especially to manage metadata that describes the model. There is an international classification that has to deal with access rights and governance of the data. LOTAR (Long Term Archiving  And Retrieval) use mainly the OAIS metadata framework based on ISO14721. Mark explained that the search for information raised from 20% to 30% in 20 years of PLM and it could even be as high as 50%. Now the challenge is how to access and use 70% of the data without degrading its value. He recommended MoSSEC (Modelling and Simulation in a Collaborative Systems Engineering Context) as a suitable standard in this context to expose the relationship between models and managing metadata.

The main advantages of using MoSSEC strategy are: Data preservation, comprehensive view, model traceability and a collaborative framework across datasets.


Managing Complexity with a Digital Thread

Kevin O’Brien, DVP-GM Windchill PLM business at PTC, presented the value of PLM with a customer case to illustrate the single source repository for enhanced collaboration. He emphasized the value of digital continuity from engineering to manufacturing and downstream processes. Harmonizing through PLM, creating governance, managing concurrent engineering were some of the key issues highlighted. A well presented Volvo example showcased the problems of working in silos and how the Windchill PTC solution provided a more collaborative and connected platform. Volvo for instance gets a request to reduce the weight of the engine by optimizing existing components and to reduce manufacturing complexity with an improved quality of the engine. This also means, there is a need for early visibility of changes for operational efficiency and getting manufacturing ready for new changes by updating mBOM and process plan. Windchill solution provided an out of the box functionality with a secured data share across disciplines, divisions and external partners, its intuitive user interface improved the data interaction and finally, the integration capability provided the flexibility to deliver the data across the value chain.


Additive Manufacturing

Andreas Graichen, Group Manager Industrialization & Digitalization, Siemens Energy presented Additive Manufacturing (AM) and their Digital Transformation story. He said that it was not a pure success story but a journey of failure and success. The activities of the company were focused on Additive manufacturing: Burner repairs, produce burners, print blading. 3D printing was just the preparation step in CAD and then it goes through a series of manufacturing steps. Digital Transformation was challenging with no formal training, bad performance, poor quality, and many other crises.

Later Siemens Energy started “Learning Workshops” with data analytics and machine learning activities. They realized they will need more robotics, automation, VR, AI and envisioned jumping to autonomous workshops. To establish the digital industry, Siemens Energy created “AM Cockpit” with Teamcenter PLM. Their future challenge is to introduce container factories concept and spread IoT for industrial Additive Manufacturing.

Digital Transformation is a journey and in order to succeed you need to spend more time in study phase and reflect the culture of openness and doing different things.



To conclude my insights from this conference, a collaboration that historically means PLM for a number of stakeholders has now evolved into connected multiple stakeholders which require more integration with other critical business systems from PLM to ERP to MES to CRM. Collaboration evolves into connectivity and product as a service will make a business case for the circular economy. This is in sync with Béatrice Gasser, Technical, Innovation and Sustainable Development Director, EGIS, that there is a need for a collaborative platform to interconnect stakeholders to achieve digital twin and ultimately maximising Industry 4.0 technologies.

There is no time for proof of concept, learn by doing, this is the new PLM Value Equation.





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May. 28 2021 May. 28 2021
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Nordine Marouf
Sr. Director Business Development



About the author
Nordine Marouf
Sr. Director Business Development

Nordine Marouf is the Senior Director, Business Development at Processia. He has extensive international experience in Software and Services Sales in a wide range of IT/IS, PLM, BIM, Cloud solutions abroad various sectors such as High Technology, Aerospace, Automotive, Transportation and Construction. Nordine is a key player with a success-oriented working approach combined with a proven track record and achievements in R&D, Sales, Business Development, Marketing, Services and Operations in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.

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