PLM’s Tough Journey: From Managing Documents to the Model-Based Enterprise – TV Report
Verdi Ogewell posted on January 22, 2018 |

Is time running out for “old school” PLM? Is the end at hand for the most common solutions in the world’s companies?

Håkan Kårdén thinks so. He is Eurostep Group’s CEO and organizer of the PLM event PDT Europe, and he isn’t alone in his reasoning.

“What we’re seeing now,” he said, “is an unprecedented stream of radical changes transforming product development, manufacturing, maintenance and business setup."

The new generation of smart, networked products requires matching platforms and technologies to be developed, produced and operated. System development was previously focused on CAD, CAE and PLM/PDM solutions. Now the discussion has moved towards platform thinking and "the lifecycle model-based enterprise," including much-hyped concepts such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial IoT, digital twins and digital threads.

Boeing, for example, has announced their intention to transforming their business towards a model-based enterprise using Dassault Systems’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The take away? We’re leaving the document paradigm to go model-based. It’s a tough journeyand there’s no going back.

“The basic question is, “How can we merge all the new technologies with legacy, while ensuring data integrity over time,” asserted Kårdén. In this PLM TV News report you also will hear from:

  • Boeing’s Kenny Swope, senior manager, Business Capability Integration
  • Brian Chiesi, Engineering Director, Boeing
  • Eric Schaeffer, Accenture’s industry global director
  • Peter Bilello, president and analyst at CIMdata
  • Marc Halpern, VP of research and analyst at Gartner Group
  • Nigel Shaw, managing director, Eurostep Ltd.

The challenge isn’t all about the integration between new technologies and legacy systems. Cisco recently released a controversial report which concluded that nearly 75 percent of IoT projects fail.  With that backdrop, the first thing priority would be to ensure that the new technologies are working, before integrating them with legacy systems. The same applies for digital twins where, for example, “Many business savvy executives fail to realize the costs attached to necessary extensive simulation capabilities,” according to Marc Halpern.

A COMPLICATED PUZZLE. The MBE concept includes the digitalized company, IoT, Industrial IoT, digital twins, digital threads and more. Together, these concepts form a complicated puzzle that at the bottom line must be able to work together as a whole. We’re far from realizing it, but it is a promising objective with great potential.
A COMPLICATED PUZZLE. The MBE concept includes the digitalized company, IoT, Industrial IoT, digital twins, digital threads and more. Together, these concepts form a complicated puzzle that at the bottom line must be able to work together as a whole. We’re far from realizing it, but it is a promising objective with great potential.

“Transform or Die”

TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR “OLD SCHOOL” PLM. PDT Europe moderator, Håkan Kårdén, claims that today, everyone and everything tends to be online globally and 24/7, and that products tend to become complex systems, which as much as possible should be simulated and tested in the digital form. “This development is paving the way for an approach commonly known as MBE, the model-based enterprise. Or, as we say, ‘The Model Based Extended Enterprise’,” he said.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR “OLD SCHOOL” PLM. PDT Europe moderator, Håkan Kårdén, claims that today, everyone and everything tends to be online globally and 24/7, and that products tend to become complex systems, which as much as possible should be simulated and tested in the digital form. 

“This development is paving the way for an approach commonly known as MBE, the model-based enterprise. Or, as we say, ‘The Model Based Extended Enterprise’,” he said.

Who said that life in engineering and product realization is easy? It’s not. Developmental dynamics are an unwavering force that constantly seeks to maintain a pressure to move forward, and PLM is no exception. In a sense, it’s a transform or die situation; perhaps not in the short-term, but definitely in the longer.

The Problem with PLM Systems Becoming Obsolete

During the conference,  Kårdén said that today’s PLM systems are designed for a document paradigm, and based on technologies that were  available more than 20 years ago, technologies that are now approaching obsolescence. This presents a challenge for users who want to benefit from today’s technology while protecting their investments in product data and intellectual property.

In this migration, standards like STEP, PLCS (an information standard for Product Life Cycle Support) and others play an increasingly important role. Some analysts, such as Gartner, point to the importance of open formats to avoid vendor lock-in.

“That's how it is,” claimed Kårdén. “Complexity increases tremendously and the support required to manage the long-term issues needs to be viewed from changed perspectives. Today, everyone and everything tends to be online globally and 24/7. Products tend to become complex systems, which as much as possible should be simulated and tested in the digital form. This development is paving the way for an approach commonly known as MBE, the model-based enterprise. Or as we say, ‘The Model Based Extended Enterprise’.”

The MBE concept includes things like the digitalized company, IoT, Industrial IoT, digital twins, digital threads and more. Together, these trends form a complicated puzzle that at the bottom line must be able to work together as a whole.

"This means increased demands on interoperability, democratization of data availability and competent platforms for collaboration," said CIMdata analyst Peter Bilello. “Data must be reusable over system lifecycles in business networks, which requires a broad definition of MBE. This concept is by nature interdisciplinary, and not only extends across the organization internally but also across the entire network.”

MBE applies to many industries such as aerospace, defense, automotive, machine workshops, construction and more.

STRUCTURES OF INFORMATION. Models can appear in many forms. Historically, we think about the 3D model, but that’s not the only kind of model. Information models are structures of information that can be used to design and simulate. Models of requirements structures are another. “I think of a model from a model-based perspective as structures of information that can be used for some purpose,” said CIMdata analyst Peter Bilello.
STRUCTURES OF INFORMATION. Models can appear in many forms. Historically, we think about the 3D model, but that’s not the only kind of model. Information models are structures of information that can be used to design and simulate. Models of requirements structures are another. “I think of a model from a model-based perspective as structures of information that can be used for some purpose,” said CIMdata analyst Peter Bilello.

What’s the Definition of a Model-Based Enterprise?

“Model-based design,” “Model-based definition”and “Model-based Engineering,” implies that companies need a model to run a product development department.

“Do you?” I asked Peter Bilello. What is the definition here?

“Good question,” Bilello replied. “And yes, unfortunately there are a lot of definitions of what we look at as ‘models.’ There’s a couple of different aspects. One is, ‘model-based what?’ You mentioned model-based design, definition and company, and I could go on with an even longer list. So, when we talk about models, they take many forms.”

“Historically during the last 15-20 years, we think about the 3D model. But that’s not the only kind of model. Information models, structures of information that can be used to design, to simulate, and models of requirements structures are others. I think of a model from a model-based perspective as structures of information that can be used for some purpose. Generally, it’s a much broader definition than just a geometrical model.”

“There are many other types of models that are needed in order to understand the information structures and to, for example, optimize product designs that start with requirements, moving to 0D models, to 1D, 2D, 3D, and actually there’s even 4D models. Those are all different types of models of information. The core, however, is information structures.”

More of a Vision than a Reality

It’s not an easy task to realize the model-based enterprise. As a matter of fact, it’s still more of a vision than a reality, asserts Bilello.

“MBE’s are one of these terms that means many different things to different people. So, are these solutions coming live in companies? Not really. The concept is out there for some companies, and they are trying to figure out what it means for them. That’s where we’re at: the early stages of awareness, understanding and development of solutions.”

“I think I’m safe to say that in a big sense there are no solutions yet for building the model-based enterprise. There are a lot of point solutions, supporting different types of models. But bringing all that together? No, I think we’re very much in the early stages of that, making people aware and then starting to build strategies and roadmaps to get them to that place.”

DIGITAL TWINS & THREADS - Siemens has advanced far in the digital twin and digital thread area with seamless functions for creating and simulating digital twins.
DIGITAL TWINS & THREADS - Siemens has advanced far in the digital twin and digital thread area with seamless functions for creating and simulating digital twins.

Dassault, Siemens and PTC Solutions for MBE

There is still some distance to go before MBE's can become a reality, but it’s an attractive vision. Among several analysts and company executives there is a strong conviction that the MBE track will get followers.

What are the obstacles?

Obviously, software is one problem. In the PLM TV News report, Bilello points to this as a challenge, as do Marc Halpern and Eric Schaeffer. But this doesn’t mean that there are no programs. The big three PLM players have created solutions, to varying degrees.

What distinguishes Dassault Systèmes, Siemens and PTC is their respective strengths in different areas, but they have all components that are useful to developing solutions in disciplines such as IoT, digital twins and threads, simulation, factory automation and complementary visualization technologies like virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). Some of them have come very far; others, less so.

PTC IS THE IoT LEADER. Earlier than any other PLM player, PTC took up IoT technology in its software portfolio. Inspired by CEO Jim Heppelmann,  the company has invested around $1 billion into buying and integrating IoT capabilities. This venture has given the company a head start compared to its competitors. The foundation of PTC’s IoT solution is the ThingWorx platform.
PTC IS THE IoT LEADER. Earlier than any other PLM player, PTC took up IoT technology in its software portfolio. Inspired by CEO Jim Heppelmann, the company has invested around $1 billion into buying and integrating IoT capabilities. This venture has given the company a head start compared to its competitors. The foundation of PTC’s IoT solution is the ThingWorx platform.

PTC has a special strength in the IoT arena with the ThingWorx platform, which is connected to their CAD software, CREO, and their PLM suite, Windchill. Additionally, they can provide advanced capabilities in terms of visualization with the ThingWorx connected AR solution, Vuforia.

Siemens PLM has advanced far in the digital twin and thread area, with seamless functions for creating, simulating and communicating digital twins with its NX CAD, Simcenter (simulation platform), MindSphere (IoT) and the Teamcenter portfolio (digital thread). They also have an ace up their sleeve with Teamcenter/Tecnomatix connected factory automation software modules.

Dassault Systèmes came on board the IoT “train” later than the others, but has now matched pace with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Still, it’s more a matter of plans than ready to use solutions. For example, Dassault Systèmes’ plans for IoT include adding an ‘experience layer’ with “analytics of things, optimization of things, dashboard of things and programming of things” in addition to “companies designing smart, connected products and supporting systems-oriented product development.”

According to Jim Brown, an analyst from Tech-Clarity, “They do not plan to invest in the communication and connectivity layers, which CEO Bernard Charlès calls the ’TCP/IP of today,’ preferring to partner with others who will provide that capability.”

Besides the big three PLM vendors, we also have solutions for IoT, digital twins and digital threads from Aras, Autodesk, SAP, Oracle and IBM.

Model Based Enterprise – “Do it Now, You Need to Try”

Although the current offerings are more like point solutions than ready-to-use Product Innovation Platforms (PiPs),that shouldn’t stop enterprises from getting started on important MBE areas like the IoT or digital twins, claimed Eric Schaeffer in the TV report:

“A client with whom I work closely said, ‘Ready or not – it’s happening.’ That’s why my first piece of advice is — do it now, you need to try. The second thing is: Experiment and launch as many pilots as you can, across the whole enterprise, not only focused on manufacturing. Look at sourcing, look at R&D, look at business support functions. Try out all these initiatives and find out which one works. If they work: scale. If they don’t: move to the next idea. It’s all about rapid experimentation and agility. I think those would be the pieces of general advice I would give.”

Schaeffer also underlined that there are no quick fixes for success, and things will take time.

“Even when you believe that you’ve reached the end, it’s still the beginning of the journey. There are simply too many disrupting technologies that are coming our way:  5G, blockchain, autonomous systems, augmented and virtual reality. We’re simply talking about successive waves of change that are going to hit the industrial world.”

“IF IT WORKS, SCALE – IF IT FAILS, SKIP IT.” Accenture’s global industry director, Eric Schaffer, says that there are no on-the-shelf solutions for IoT or digital twins, both of which are basic needs in a model-based enterprise concept. “But these new technologies are coming, and will hit the industry market with full strength, so you’ve got to try to find solutions. Experiment and launch as many pilots as you can. If they work: scale. If they don’t: move on to the next idea,” he said in PLM TV News’ interview.

“IF IT WORKS, SCALE – IF IT FAILS, SKIP IT.” Accenture’s global industry director, Eric Schaffer, says that there are no on-the-shelf solutions for IoT or digital twins, both of which are basic needs in a model-based enterprise concept. 

“But these new technologies are coming, and will hit the industry market with full strength, so you’ve got to try to find solutions. Experiment and launch as many pilots as you can. If they work: scale. If they don’t: move on to the next idea,” he said in PLM TV News’ interview.

If you and your company want to be part of that new industrial era, Schaeffer’s message is that it requires:

1) solutions to become an integral part of existing PLM and ERP systems, and
2) strong partners on the systems integrator side for assembling enterprise scale platforms and integrating technology with new management and business models.

Eventually the lifecycle model-based enterprise is within reach. Remember that PLM in major parts of enterprises took around a decade or more to reach a state of smoothly working solutions.

MBE will probably take just as long. I asked Mark Halpern how long. “Five to ten years just to realize IoT and digital twins,” was his qualified guess. Peter Bilello is on the same track, emphasizing the importance of cultural change and that people are the asset that can carry it through.    

MBE Requires a New Attitude  

To get there, Bilello explained, we have to let go of the "business-as-usual attitude," which often characterizes organizations.

"Perhaps the most important part of this process is to create a changeable climate. One must be enthusiastic, point to individual development opportunities, and focus on the company's survival conditions in a tougher competitive environment,” Bilello stated.

If you succeed, half the battle is won. People who are interested and motivated see opportunities to create new processes and dare to change. The way forward can lead anywhere, and offers paths many people did not think possible.

A BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT. Boeing is one of the big global players acting on and looking deeper into model-based enterprise solutions. With 2,500 applications in use by 40,000 engineers, this kind of solution can contribute to more effective product realization processes. It’s not a surprise that when Boeing signed a 30-year contract with Dassault Systèmes to purchase and consolidate on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform (3DX) it was probably the biggest PLM contract in history, worth $1B.
A BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT. Boeing is one of the big global players acting on and looking deeper into model-based enterprise solutions. With 2,500 applications in use by 40,000 engineers, this kind of solution can contribute to more effective product realization processes. It’s not a surprise that when Boeing signed a 30-year contract with Dassault Systèmes to purchase and consolidate on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform (3DX) it was probably the biggest PLM contract in history, worth $1B.

Boeing’s $1 Billion Bet on Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE Platform

With more than 140,000 employees and hundreds of different software applications, interoperability and effective data flows across the enterprise MBE offers great potential. The US aircraft manufacturer has about 2,500 applications related to product realization, which are in use by around 40,000 engineers.

That’s a lot, and it doesn’t come as surprise that when in mid-2017 they signed a 30-year contract with Dassault Systèmes to purchase, implement and use the 3DEXPERIENCE platform (3DX) it probably was the biggest PLM contract in history, worth $1 billion.

With 3DX, Dassault Systèmes has ambitions to deliver just the type of Product Innovation Platform that can become a foundation for the MBE concept. They aren’t there yet, but the vision of what it can become is clearly pointing in this direction. Boeing intends to consolidate its program set with 3DX, which means that in the long run all other solutions will be phased out to focus exclusively on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DX applications.

No doubt a daring move, so what is the problem?

“Currently we’re a bit encumbered with the customizations that we’ve put in place, and we’re also encumbered with the proprietary data standards that are used inside those systems. So today, for us to incorporate new technology and capabilities becomes a very hard integration activity,” explained Boeing’s Brian Chiesi in today’s TV report.

This means it takes a lot of time and effort to make sure that the integration happens in a way that doesn’t break the existing system. Chiesi added, “Format compatibility is key. Today we integrate point-to-point across the applications, and a lot of times we have to translate that data, so it can be consumed in between. Again, this is causing a lot of friction of the data movement through the system.”

BOEING IS BUILDING A COMMON FRAMEWORK. “The business architecture really consists of a framework of capability management,” said Kenny Swope, Boeing’s senior manager of Business Capability Integration. Swope continued, “What I mean by that is that for each part of the business there’s a set of processes, business information and business roles that perform the task or the deliverable of that particular capability. We look at that as a package, and what we’re doing at Boeing is building a common framework across the enterprise with that capability configuration, if you will. And our business architecture is standardizing the different views of that set of capabilities.”
BOEING IS BUILDING A COMMON FRAMEWORK. “The business architecture really consists of a framework of capability management,” said Kenny Swope, Boeing’s senior manager of Business Capability Integration. Swope continued, “What I mean by that is that for each part of the business there’s a set of processes, business information and business roles that perform the task or the deliverable of that particular capability. We look at that as a package, and what we’re doing at Boeing is building a common framework across the enterprise with that capability configuration, if you will. And our business architecture is standardizing the different views of that set of capabilities.”

Tough Job to Integrate Across Boeing’s Three Divisions

This is a huge project. Kenny Swope, senior manager of Business Capability Integration at Boeing, said that it is a tough job to integrate solutions across the company’s three divisions.

“But we’ve got an excellent team that does that today. Probably the biggest challenge is our terminology and our culture. Ensuring that we have seamless flow of data across our enterprise and the supply chain requires a very deep technical understanding of the technology and the terminology that we use,” Swope said. 

We asked Swope about the business architecture. He explained that, “the business architecture really consists of a framework of capability management. And what I mean by that is that, for each part of the business, there’s a set of processes, business information and business roles that perform the task or the deliverable of that particular capability. We look at that as a package, and what we’re doing at Boeing is building a common framework across the enterprise with that capability configuration, if you will. And our business architecture is standardizing the different views of that set of capabilities.”

We are left with a few questions:

  • Can the lifecycle model-based enterprise become a reality?
  • What are the obstacles?
  • Simulations are important parts of the digital twin concept, but what are the hazards?
  • Why is the digital thread a crucial factor?
  • What can the model-based enterprise concept do for Boeing?

To get the answers of these questions and other MBE issues – check out the TV report above.


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