Aerial Combat: Dassault Takes Off with the Boeing Win, But Siemens Lands One of the Year’s Largest PLM Contract
Verdi Ogewell posted on July 09, 2018 |

The battle for big PLM wins is merciless, particularly in the aerospace industry where mighty players compete in a high-stakes game of technological supremacy.

Last year, Boeing renewed their commitment to Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform in a record-breaking deal worth $1 billion over 30 years. That deal was a stinging defeat for Siemens PLM, who appeared to have a real shot right up to the 11th hour.

Siemens made a comeback later in the year when it brought home a large order from the Canadian aerospace manufacturer Bombardier after tough competition from Dassault and PTC. Bombardier’s large train division uses the Siemens PLM suite Teamcenter in combination with DS CATIA.

We’ve just seen another announcement in Siemens PLM’s favor: the European aircraft manufacturer Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) gave one of this year’s largest PLM orders to the German PLM developer.

The goal of TAI’s order is to create end-to-end digital twins. The exact value of the deal remains undisclosed, but based on the number of users and a "normal rate," the order value should land between 10 and 15 million dollars. The deal includes cPDm (Teamcenter, "Collaborative PDM"), CAD (NX), Simulation/CAE (Simcenter) and Manufacturing management (Tecnomatix).

SHAKING HANDS ON THE BIG PLM DEAL. Representatives of the Siemens PLM and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), shake hands at a signing ceremony in Ankara after the negotiations that landed the year's largest PLM contract. To the right, TAI’s CEO, Temel Kotil, to the left the representative for Siemens PLM.  The agreement, worth about $15 million according to my calculations, is generally centers on developing a concept around digital twins. The Turkish aircraft developer and manufacturer has ambitions to grow vigorously from today's (2017) sales of nearly $2 billion to 5 billion in 2023, and advanced technology is the path to get there.
SHAKING HANDS ON THE BIG PLM DEAL. Representatives of the Siemens PLM and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), shake hands at a signing ceremony in Ankara after the negotiations that landed the year's largest PLM contract. To the right, TAI’s CEO, Temel Kotil, to the left the representative for Siemens PLM. The agreement, worth about $15 million according to my calculations, is generally centers on developing a concept around digital twins. The Turkish aircraft developer and manufacturer has ambitions to grow vigorously from today's (2017) sales of nearly $2 billion to 5 billion in 2023, and advanced technology is the path to get there. "With the help of Siemens software, we can create a digital twin of our products and apply technical simulations to these products," commented Kotil.

However, Dassault isn’t leaving the table empty-handed. TAI has also submitted a substantial order to Dassault to use the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to “accelerate the development of the TF-X aircraft.” According to sources with insight into the deal, the value “by far exceeds 10 million.”  

For this project, TAI will deploy Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE solutionsWinning Program, Co-Design to Target, Test to Perform, Ready for Rate and Build to Operateto develop its next generation, aircraft from design through production. However, TAI also will use Siemens solutions in this project, such as 1D simulation (for mechatronics based on the LMS software) and CD-Adapco for computational fluid dynamics (CFD).

In this article, I will discuss details of the TAI order, Dassault’s Boeing win, as well as the general challenges for PLM in aerospace and defense related to technical development, implementation issues and the market, with commentary from:

  • TAI CEO and President, Temel Kotil
  • Boeing Senior Manager of Business Capability Integration, Kenny Swope
  • Siemens PLM CEO and President, Tony Hemmelgarn
  • Dassault Systèmes Vice President Aerospace & Defense Industry, David Ziegler
  • Gartner PLM analyst, Marc Halper
HOW BERNARD CHARLÉS SECURED THE BOEING ORDER. Few people in the PLM world are as skilled in selling PLM based on vision and attractive business proposals as Dassault Systèmes’ leader, Bernard Charlés. Several times he has managed to switch a threatening defeat to a triumph in the last minute. According to my sources, this also happened with the Boeing case. In mid-May 2017, he flew to Seattle and Boeings’ headquarters when , after months of negotiations, the aircraft manufacturer was close to selecting their PLM system. This selection is a big deal. Boeing wants to consolidate their entire business onto a single platform. The battle at Boeing narrowed down to Dassault and Siemens PLM; 3DEXPERIENCE versus Teamcenter; CATIA V6 versus NX. At this time, in mid-May, nobody outside Boeing’s inner circle knew which vendor would win. There were rumors pointing in both directions. The general feeling among contenders in the field, including the service providers, was that Boeing was leaning towards Teamcenter/NX—meaning that Dassault stood to lose a billion-dollar contract. Charlés knew that Siemens was very close to a deal. In this situation the Dassault chief did what he had to do—he got on a plane and made Boeing an offer they couldn’t refuse. Exactly what this offer was worth in terms of money has not been possible to find out, but according to my sources his message was, “Buy our stuff and I will lower the migration costs substantially.” This offer shifted the balance in favor of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and secured the biggest contract in the French PLM developer’s history. (Image credit: Getty Images.)

HOW BERNARD CHARLÉS SECURED THE BOEING ORDER. Few people in the PLM world are as skilled in selling PLM based on vision and attractive business proposals as Dassault Systèmes’ leader, Bernard Charlés. Several times he has managed to switch a threatening defeat to a triumph in the last minute. According to my sources, this also happened with the Boeing case. In mid-May 2017, he flew to Seattle and Boeings’ headquarters when , after months of negotiations, the aircraft manufacturer was close to selecting their PLM system. 

This selection is a big deal. Boeing wants to consolidate their entire business onto a single platform. The battle at Boeing narrowed down to Dassault and Siemens PLM; 3DEXPERIENCE versus Teamcenter; CATIA V6 versus NX. At this time, in mid-May, nobody outside Boeing’s inner circle knew which vendor would win. There were rumors pointing in both directions. The general feeling among contenders in the field, including the service providers, was that Boeing was leaning towards Teamcenter/NX—meaning that Dassault stood to lose a billion-dollar contract. Charlés knew that Siemens was very close to a deal. In this situation the Dassault chief did what he had to do—he got on a plane and made Boeing an offer they couldn’t refuse. 

Exactly what this offer was worth in terms of money has not been possible to find out, but according to my sources his message was, “Buy our stuff and I will lower the migration costs substantially.” This offer shifted the balance in favor of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform and secured the biggest contract in the French PLM developer’s history. (Image credit: Getty Images.)

Boeing and Airbus are the Big PLM Investors

Aircraft manufacturing offers a great window into the latest digitization processes. They tend to be big investors in sophisticated PLM software, with giant companies like Boeing and Airbus at the forefront alongside a range of other players who are by no means small: Bombardier, Embraer and a number of major subcontractors.

In the propulsion area, we see companies such as Rolls-Royce, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and SNECMA. Meanwhile, the military missile and robot segment has players such as Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

And it doesn’t stop there: the helicopter side is also significant, as is the space and satellite arena. It’s no wonder that PLM companies pull out all the stops when battling for deals in this industry.

To illustrate the size of some of the major aerospace players, here’s a brief look at the revenues of the world's big commercial jet manufacturers. The source is Statista’s figures for 2016, with the 2017 figures in brackets. No numbers have been published for 2017, but we have looked at the respective companies' earnings reports for 2017.

  1. Boeing $94.6 billion (2017: $ 93.4 billion)
  2. Airbus $70.3 billion (2017: $ 77.7)
  3. Bombardier $16.3 billion (2017: $ 16.2)
  4. Embraer $6.2 billion (5.8 $ 2017)

Aiming to Reach $5 Billion in Revenue by 2023

"How big is TAI?" During 2017, the company’s revenues landed just under $ 2 billion, but CEO and president Temel Kotil says that TAI strives to become a player with sales of $5 billion and 6,000 employees by 2023, and to have 8,000 employees and revenues of $6 billion by 2025.

Building long-term competence and sophisticated technological development is the driving force behind the new agreement between TAI and Siemens PLM. The contract is 11 years long and includes a commitment to introduce a complete digital twin concept within the framework of TAI’s product development strategy.

BOTH MILITARY AN CIVIL PRODUCTION. Since it was founded back in 1973, TAI has developed to become a center of technology in design, development, manufacturing, integration of aerospace systems, modernization and after sales support in Turkey. The company started its journey by co-producing the F-16 aircrafts purchased by Turkey from the United States. The project was successful, and it went on to add co-production of the SF-260 Trainer and CN-235 Light Transport Aircraft in 1986.

BOTH MILITARY AN CIVIL PRODUCTION. Since it was founded back in 1973, TAI has developed to become a center of technology in design, development, manufacturing, integration of aerospace systems, modernization and after sales support in Turkey. The company started its journey by co-producing the F-16 aircrafts purchased by Turkey from the United States. The project was successful, and it went on to add co-production of the SF-260 Trainer and CN-235 Light Transport Aircraft in 1986. "With the co-production of the AS-532 Cougar helicopter in 1997, we then added expertise on solutions to rotating wing platforms. This was the starting point for development with increasing knowledge and experience in an increasing number of areas, among them civilian aircraft projects,” asserts Kotil Temel. 

On the military side of the business, the big challenge today is the TF-X fighter (shown in the 3D model above). The TAI TF-X is a proposed twin-engine all-weather Turkish air superiority fighter being developed by TAI with technological assistance from UK’s BAE Systems. The aircraft is planned to replace the F-16s of the Turkish Air Force and to be exported to foreign air forces. It will be developed on Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

TAI has 1,000 Engineers and Product Developers

"Neither Siemens nor TAI have published details on the size of the investment dubbed “the year’s largest PLM order to date,” but we can estimate.

Here's the estimate calculation: According to official sources, TAI employs about 1,000 engineers and product developers. With a price per seat of $10,000 (realistic in the CAD and simulation context), plus a further $2,000 to $4,000 for cPDm including implementation costs, the contract value can be estimated at$13-14 million, making it the largest PLM investment of 2018—which counts as a significant win for Siemens PLM.

Should TAI successfully create a fully working digital twin concept with this level of complexity, it will be a unique event in the aerospace business.

There are no concrete details of the Dassault order’s size, either, but together with TAI’s investment in Siemens PLM, we’re talking about a substantial venture that reflects strong ambitions for growth and cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technology. Dassault sources with insight into the TAI deal claim that, “The contract signed with TAI is much more than $10 million. The scope of the Dassault deal is way bigger and more strategic than the one with Siemens.”

What makes it hard to compare the orders comes down to the fact that Dassault calculates with around 2,000 engineers and product developers who will use the 3DEXPERIENCE solutions, which indicates that they bring the project partners to TAI into the equation. Should this be correct, these two orders—including partners to TAI—could be worth in the neighborhood of $30 million.

A Local Hub for Advanced Technology

TAI has developed into a leading Turkish technology hub for design, development, modernization, manufacturing, integration and lifecycle support of integrated airplane systems—everything from fixed and rotating wing aircraft to unmanned airplanes (UAV) and satellites.

However, becoming a top performer in this business segment—and retaining that position—demands dynamic effort. TAI has an ambitious program requiring advanced IT support, especially in terms of digital twins which are still considered a “virgin technology” where success is not a given. Some of the toughest challenges include developing the simulation side and linking product development and manufacturing.

Bottom line: TAI is betting on a solution that supports the company's visionary end-to-end strategy.

"With the help of Siemens software, we can create a digital twin of our products and apply technical simulations to these products," said Kotil. "We see a lot of exciting opportunities in front of us in terms of design and production of our own products, made possible by Siemens’ industry-based infrastructure building."

 “REDUCING TIME TO MARKET.” The TAI CEO, Temel Kotil, stands in front of some of the company’s products, which besides jet fighters and civilian aircrafts include helicopters and UAVs. “Our partnership with Siemens aims at reducing time to market for all our projects. Therefore, our company will deliver the products to customers in shorter times. Different groups working within a project will be able to work in parallel on the same data. Thus, design and production activities will be synchronized, and manufacturing errors can be reduced.”
“REDUCING TIME TO MARKET.” The TAI CEO, Temel Kotil, stands in front of some of the company’s products, which besides jet fighters and civilian aircrafts include helicopters and UAVs. “Our partnership with Siemens aims at reducing time to market for all our projects. Therefore, our company will deliver the products to customers in shorter times. Different groups working within a project will be able to work in parallel on the same data. Thus, design and production activities will be synchronized, and manufacturing errors can be reduced.”

A Tough Market Facing Major Challenges

Aerospace is one of the most competitive industries, featuring complex—often industrially unproven—technologies, increasing competition and sharper regulatory requirements. This means players like TAI must continue to innovate to achieve success. Developing a digital end-to-end innovation strategy that can create comprehensive and accurate digital models of products and production is a necessity, and digital twins are an integral part of this strategy.

However, getting a digital twin up and running isn’t easy. These models are still unproven when it comes to complex real-world cases, but theoretically will provide detailed insights for decision making in product development and manufacturing.

Who has come the furthest in developing these tools remains up for discussion, but Siemens is well positioned in the race. TAI sees Siemens as "the leader in digitalization and innovation, with the right technology and vision to adapt their goals to accelerate development, optimize manufacturing and utilize the insights from product and plant activities to improve future performance."

"The agreement with Siemens PLM will contribute to the rapid implementation of the TAI project and will keep product data safe and secure," said Kotil. “Our partnership aims at reducing time to market for our projects. Therefore, our company will deliver the products to customers in shorter times. Different groups working within a project will be able to work in parallel on the same data, so design and production activities will be synchronized and manufacturing errors can be reduced.”

The PLM Arsenal That Will Realize TAI’s Objectives

In terms of software, the investment includes Siemens’ Teamcenter portfolio as the backbone of TAI's PLM structure.

Siemens defines "PLM tools" in line with the definition used by industry analyst CIMdata. The PLM tools for collaboration, PDM, CAD, CAE/simulation, and Digital Manufacturing (DM) are all included in the Teamcenter portfolio. 

  • Teamcenter’s foundational PDM solution carries and organizes data related to product structures, systems and the like.
  • Siemens CAD flagship, NX, is used for product definition.
  • The new Simcenter simulation and analysis platform will be used in all stages of the product life cycle at TAI, combining product development, manufacturing and optimization of operations, as well as offering a basis for maintenance work fro the company's end users. All of this reflects Siemens’ "digital twinning strategy" where, instead of burdening the digital twin with information from all stages of the life cycle, the solution focuses on having the twin activate data in different phases as relevant to the three aspects mentioned above. This creates a digital twin that is unburdened by irrelevant data, has improved performance and is easier to handle in specific situations with disparate needs.
  • Tecnomatix also plays an important role in manufacturing, offering a framework enabling users to plan, optimize and control the manufacturing processes. The seamless connections to Teamcenter are key for smooth flows of data between the respective departments involved in the product realization process.
SIMULATION IN THE CENTER OF ATTENTION. Simulation will play a key role in digital twin concepts and will be used in all stages of the product realization process. Siemens platform in this context is Simcenter 3D. In the picture: structural performance analysis on wing design.
SIMULATION IN THE CENTER OF ATTENTION. Simulation will play a key role in digital twin concepts and will be used in all stages of the product realization process. Siemens platform in this context is Simcenter 3D. In the picture: structural performance analysis on wing design.

"Digital Twins Increase Competitiveness"

Siemens’ cross division integrated Digital Factory, including the PLM and Automation departments, provides a leading position in the market for solutions that link product development, manufacturing and automation. Tony Hemmelgarn, CEO of Siemens PLM, believes this will achieve lead-time gains at each point for TAI.

"Turkish Aerospace Industries has quickly become a leader in space and defense markets, and the implementation of a digital twin for design, manufacturing and system performance will only help boost the company's competitiveness," said Hemmelgarn. “Using an integrated digital innovation platform can help test and verify system performance earlier in manufacturing, reducing the need for physical prototypes, saving time and reducing errors. With the help of an optimized manufacturing process, TAI will be able to deliver more innovative and robust solutions to its helicopter, UAV and airline customers.”

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE TWIN CONCEPT. Given the growth potential, it is no surprise that simulation is one of the areas where the big PLM players are making big bets. Siemens PLM has been investing to build the strongest hand at the table. A few years ago, Siemens bought LMS to bolster the company's capabilities on the systems engineering side. “Simulation will also play a key role in the digital twin concept,” asserts Siemens CEO, Tony Hemmelgarn, and he has initiated huge investments in the area. During the last couple of years, Siemens also bought CD-adapco (CFD), Mentor Graphics (IC and PCB design, which also contains advanced simulation capabilities), and TASS International (solutions addressing autonomous vehicles, integrated safety, advanced driver assistance systems and tire modeling). “Simulation and analysis tools will play an increasingly important role in all parts of a products life, from the early phases of product development, through manufacturing, and in many cases as a product in the hands of end-users,” Hemmelgarn added.

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE TWIN CONCEPT. Given the growth potential, it is no surprise that simulation is one of the areas where the big PLM players are making big bets. Siemens PLM has been investing to build the strongest hand at the table. A few years ago, Siemens bought LMS to bolster the company's capabilities on the systems engineering side. 

“Simulation will also play a key role in the digital twin concept,” asserts Siemens CEO, Tony Hemmelgarn, and he has initiated huge investments in the area. During the last couple of years, Siemens also bought CD-adapco (CFD), Mentor Graphics (IC and PCB design, which also contains advanced simulation capabilities), and TASS International (solutions addressing autonomous vehicles, integrated safety, advanced driver assistance systems and tire modeling). 

“Simulation and analysis tools will play an increasingly important role in all parts of a products life, from the early phases of product development, through manufacturing, and in many cases as a product in the hands of end-users,” Hemmelgarn added.

Simulation a Major Stumbling Block to Digital Twins

Tony Hemmelgarn is optimistic about the digital twin concept,­ but creating a working system is in many respects a pilot project. Success would mean a lot for their business, so we can expect that Siemens will go all-in on this development project.

What are the big challenges of digital twins? There are many, but an important point revolves around simulation. Gartner analyst Marc Halpern has examined the simulation challenge and its weak spots.

“There’s still a lot of hype about digital twins,” he asserts, explaining that, “There will possibly be simulation models associated with the twins, but you’ll never know exactly what simulations you’re going to need when you first start out with the digital twin. So, we really need an open architecture that will allow the connection of different simulation capabilities and be able to have those co-exist and also be able to do multi-physics type of analysis or simulation, even under unexpected circumstances.”  

“I’ve seen circumstances where senior executives have very little technical background but have great business savvy; they see the potential opportunity of digital twins if it all worked perfectly. So they hear about simulation, but they don’t understand that this idea of predictive capabilities and analytics comes at a price that could be multiple simulation models that need to be attached to the digital twin model. And the digital twin as initially designed may not accommodate those models,” Halpern added.

“I think it is a significant risk that some companies will embark on a digital twin journey without having fully identified and reached consensus on what the business objective will be and how this will be implemented or executed. As well as how are you going to monetize it?”

Overall, Halpern claimed that with the digital twin, "it is extremely complex to get all the parts together into a working whole, and I find that there is often what can be described as a naivety about the opportunities for cost and time to achieve this."

From Co-Production of Military F-16 Planes to Design and Production Partner with Airbus

TAI's story began in 1973 with the co-production of F-16 aircraft purchased by Turkey from the United States. The project was so successful that it went on to add co-production of the SF-260 Trainer and CN-235 Light Transport Aircraft in 1986.

"With the co-production of the AS-532 Cougar helicopter in 1997, we added expertise on solutions to rotating wing platforms. with our increasing knowledge and experience, we could start collaborating with major aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus in 1998 with the first commercial aircraft design projects," said Kotil.

TAI WILL SUPPLY THE FAN COWLS. TAI has a growing civil aircraft production, including collaborating with Airbus. In 2017, for example, a tender was made to design and manufacture the engine shell for the Pratt & Whitney engines on the Airbus SAS A320neo. TAI won the contract. The A320Neo family has two engine options, where TAI will supply the “Fan Cowls” of PW1100G-JM engines. These cowls function to protect the jet engine from external impacts and completing the aircraft’s aerodynamic integrity. According to the contract signed with Airbus, TAI will design and manufacture A320Neo PW Nacelle Fan Cowls as the sole source throughout the entire program lifetime. The PW Fan Cowls will be designed and built at its state-of-the-art TAI’s Ankara Kahramankazan premises in Turkey, where the company is already contracted to design, build and supply of AIRBUS A350 XWB Ailerons, build and supplies of Airbus A330 Rudders, Airbus A320 Section 19 Barrel and Airbus A320 Section 18 Shells, along with the supplies of fuselage sections and control surfaces of various commercial/military aircraft platforms.

TAI WILL SUPPLY THE FAN COWLS. TAI has a growing civil aircraft production, including collaborating with Airbus. In 2017, for example, a tender was made to design and manufacture the engine shell for the Pratt & Whitney engines on the Airbus SAS A320neo. TAI won the contract. The A320Neo family has two engine options, where TAI will supply the “Fan Cowls” of PW1100G-JM engines. These cowls function to protect the jet engine from external impacts and completing the aircraft’s aerodynamic integrity. 

According to the contract signed with Airbus, TAI will design and manufacture A320Neo PW Nacelle Fan Cowls as the sole source throughout the entire program lifetime. The PW Fan Cowls will be designed and built at its state-of-the-art TAI’s Ankara Kahramankazan premises in Turkey, where the company is already contracted to design, build and supply of AIRBUS A350 XWB Ailerons, build and supplies of Airbus A330 Rudders, Airbus A320 Section 19 Barrel and Airbus A320 Section 18 Shells, along with the supplies of fuselage sections and control surfaces of various commercial/military aircraft platforms.

As mentioned above, Dassault Systèmes notes the TF-X aircraft program includes, “more than 2,000 project participants at Turkish Aerospace, its partners and suppliers who will collaborate by relying on a single source of data across all digital design, engineering, simulation, manufacturing, business analytics and governance applications.”

Both the TF-X aircraft program and the digital twin program with Siemens are good examples of the organizational and technical complexity that surrounds aircraft development and manufacturing. Furthermore, it reflects that current aircraft development is an international project that demands multi-national collaboration.

Another example is TAI’s participation in the A400M program, launched in 2003 to develop a transport aircraft to replace the aging C-160 transport aircraft. "Our participation has had a positive impact on relations with Airbus, where TAI is seen as a reliable and cost-effective design and production partner for Airbus, not only for the A400M but also for passenger airplanes," said Kotil.

 “The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides them with the digital capabilities to accelerate such programs by up to 50 percent,” says Dassault’s David Ziegler.

“The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides them with the digital capabilities to accelerate such programs by up to 50 percent,” says Dassault’s David Ziegler.

David Ziegler, vice president of aerospace & defense industry at Dassault Systèmes, emphasizes the significance of that statement, adding that this in turn requires strong collaborative platforms for product development. 

“Aircraft development, considered one of the most technologically advanced projects in any industry, is growing more complex. As companies integrate sophisticated systems and technologies, they seek new ways to conceptualize, design, manufacture, test, certify and sustain products while collaborating across functions and geographies,” said Ziegler “The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides them with the digital capabilities to accelerate such programs by up to 50 percent.   Turkish Aerospace can therefore improve decision-making, reduce risks, and transform its end-to-end development.”

Aerospace: The “Home Field Advantage” for Siemens

It’s clear that TAI has great ambitions, which in turn raises the bar for potential partners who want to deliver software and services to support them. What does the market look like for these companies?

TAI’s choice of Siemens to develop a digital twin concept is not surprising, as the Aerospace & Defense industries are one of the "home fields" for Siemens PLM, especially with regard to cPDm.

CIMdata’s 2017 reports the Aerospace & Defense market share of cPDm investments as follows:

  1. Siemens PLM with a market share of just over 8 percent
  2. PTC - just over 7.5 percent
  3. SAP - almost 6.5 percent
  4. Dassault - barely 6 percent
  5. IFS about 2 percent

Looking at the entire PLM investment for 2016 (including what CIMdata defines as "tools" for CAD, CAM and other solutions), Aerospace & Defense invested about $4.2 billion.

One of the main objectives behind the choice of Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE at Boeing was to standardize on one platform. This is a huge challenge, not least in light of the more than 2,000 different software platforms presently used in the company and the more than 40,000 involved engineers and product developers. Thus, a highly diversified landscape both in terms of people and software.
One of the main objectives behind the choice of Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE at Boeing was to standardize on one platform. This is a huge challenge, not least in light of the more than 2,000 different software platforms presently used in the company and the more than 40,000 involved engineers and product developers. Thus, a highly diversified landscape both in terms of people and software.

Boeing’s Challenges: To Consolidate on a Single Platform

There are clear parallels between the situation at TAI and the one at Boeing. In the latter case, Dassault Systèmes and Siemens shared the PLM installations depending on the department, division and tradition, with CATIA and ENOVIA in some places, NX and an older customized version of Teamcenter in others. As an added complication, there are also more than 2,000 different types of software being used in specific disciplines such as aerodynamics, circuit board design, electricity and fuel consumption, to name a few.

Compared to the TAI deal, Boeing took a less diversified path in terms of the PLM platform—the aircraft giant wanted to standardize.

"We wanted to change this relationship, and the aim is to standardize on one solution, 3DEXPERIENCE" said Kenny Swope, senior manager of Business Capability Integration, a couple months after the decision to move to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform became official.

At the time, Boeing wasn’t using any V6/3DX components in production. “But it’s an area that we’re moving into. We don’t have currently any production instances of 3DEXPERIENCE yet, but since that agreement we are moving aggressively to take the product into our labs and make our first implementations. We’re really excited and looking forward to taking advantage of the capabilities that 3DEXPERIENCE brings to the table,” said Swope.

There are some unexpectedly tough problems when it comes to implementing 3DEXPERIENCE, however, with Jaguar Land Rover in the automotive industry being held up as the most significant example. But how did this affect Boeing’s evaluation process?  “The evaluation process for making the decision of this size takes in to account many factors,” Swope claimed.  “There are many perspectives, such as technical, financial and relationship views. The procurement went through a very meticulous and exhaustive process for making the decision. We took into account the relationships we have in several industries and I’m confident that Boeing came out with a decision that will support our long-term plan.”

Boeing’s senior manager of Business Capability Integration, Kenny Swope, presented at the PDT Europe event. Why did the aircraft giant choose Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform? “In the long-term view of the aerospace industry, we’re looking forward to the component capability architecture of 3DEXPERIENCE and the continuing journey with V5 and all the capabilities we’ve built around V5, as well as the move into V6 and the other adjacent spaces that the platform brings,” Swope said.
Boeing’s senior manager of Business Capability Integration, Kenny Swope, presented at the PDT Europe event. Why did the aircraft giant choose Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform? “In the long-term view of the aerospace industry, we’re looking forward to the component capability architecture of 3DEXPERIENCE and the continuing journey with V5 and all the capabilities we’ve built around V5, as well as the move into V6 and the other adjacent spaces that the platform brings,” Swope said.

At present, Boeing has two backbones of magnitude, which include tools from both Siemens PLM (Teamcenter and NX CAD) and Dassault Systèmes (ENOVIA V5 and CATIA). Both platforms are used on the commercial side. One airplane program, the 787, uses Dassault’s solution; other programs use an older version of Teamcenter for Bill of Material management, with CAD authoring in CATIA V5 across both, according to Swope. On the military side, Teamcenter is a major player, “but we also have installations of PTC’s Windchill and other lesser known applications as well. It’s a very complex PLM landscape that we are looking forward to simplifying,” Swope added.

In order for Boeing to consolidate on one platform, the plan seems to be the phasing out of Teamcenter, Windchill and other solutions in order to work on one platform, 3DEXPERIENCE, with only Dassault Systèmes apps on the platform. Swope commented on the implementation plan, saying, “We’re in the process of building those plans out right now. One of the important things is to bring technology, capability and value to the airplanes and developing programs as quickly as possible, but to do so while maintaining business continuity and assuring that we have a reliable path.”

There is also the question about what happens to other solutions that are already in place and being used in specific areas, such as software from ANSYS, MathWorks, Mentor Graphics and others. “The relationships with all of our PLM vendors will continue for some time. We’ve got these systems in place, they are running our business or producing important results in several areas and play a very critical role. But we want to be very deliberate in our approach and take advantage of the value that 3DEXPERIENCE brings to the table as quickly as possible,” Swope commented.

Why Boeing Chose Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE

Swope commented on why Boeing chose the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, “In the long-term view of the aerospace industry we’re looking forward to the component capability architecture of 3DEXPERIENCE and the continuing journey with V5 and all the capabilities we’ve built around V5, as well as the move into V6 and the other adjacent spaces that the platform brings, such as Apriso for manufacturing, ENOVIA for the foundation and solutions in the front-end configuration space. We’re looking forward to taking advantage of all of those capabilities across the value chain.”

INFORMATION AT THE FINGERTIPS. “As far as the business goes, we’re endeavoring to make the end-user experience a delight, where they have information available at their fingertips, what they need when they need it,” said Kenny Swope.

INFORMATION AT THE FINGERTIPS. “As far as the business goes, we’re endeavoring to make the end-user experience a delight, where they have information available at their fingertips, what they need when they need it,” said Kenny Swope.

One of the key differences between 3DEXPERIENCE and solutions such as V5, Teamcenter, Windchill and others is that 3DEXPERIENCE is data-driven, while the others are file based. This different introduces changes in the work processes, which also had an effect on Boeing’s evaluation. 

“When we think about the digital thread, we are looking for the ability to have access to our data in context at the point of use. From a technical perspective, having a service orientation and an architecture that supports services is very powerful. As far as the business goes, we’re endeavoring to make the end-user experience a delight, where they have information available at their fingertips, what they need when they need it. This is essential, and the system should enable that kind of ability. I would say that every application that is able to provide that kind of interaction with our user base is going to be a successful one,” Swope concluded.

PLM and the Power of Psychological Resistance to Change

Obviously, standardizing is a tough challenge for an organization with more than 40,000 engineers and product developers.

My take is that such an event–standardization on a single platform–is extremely hard to carry through. Simulation, for example, is basically a matter of trust. You must, as a calculation engineer, feel that you can stand for the results presented by the program. If you have worked with ANSYS for 20 years, you know the intricacies of the software—and thus you can interpret the results in a correct way.

The same thing goes for IC and PCB design. If you have designed printed circuit boards in Mentor year after year, moving to a Dassault solution presents a high hurdle, regardless of management's “theoretical” ideas of increased efficiency. In short, it's not just a question of technical capabilities, methodology and disruptive technologies; it is equally a problem of psychology, emotion ​​and difficulties in assessing the long-term effects of new technology.

When engineering.com spoke to Boeing’s Kenny Swope, he stated that the plan was to standardize on Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform within a matter of a few years.

Is this realistic? My personal view is that it might work as a vision and development driver, but implementation will certainly take longer. A reasonable assessment is that the chances to really succeed in such standardization on a single platform is close to narrow the limit of what is possible in an organization as big as Boeing or Airbus.

A KEY MOMENT IN PRODUCT REALIZATION. One of the hardest things to do in product realization when you swap the product development system is to see to it that the eBOM (engineering BOM, produced by the PLM system) and mBOM (the manufacturing BOM, normally transmitted from the PLM system to be produced by the ERP system) works smoothly and correctly together. This may have been one of the big issues when Jaguar Land Rover built up their new product development system, iPLM, based on Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
A KEY MOMENT IN PRODUCT REALIZATION. One of the hardest things to do in product realization when you swap the product development system is to see to it that the eBOM (engineering BOM, produced by the PLM system) and mBOM (the manufacturing BOM, normally transmitted from the PLM system to be produced by the ERP system) works smoothly and correctly together. This may have been one of the big issues when Jaguar Land Rover built up their new product development system, iPLM, based on Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

The Events at JLR: What is Designed Also Must be Manufactured

In 2010, vehicle manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover decided to invest in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform as a foundation for its iPLM platform. Nearly eight years later, the new platform was only fractionally activated.

There were a number of problems, not least of which was the effect the platform change had on the supply chain. However, the question is not whether the major discrepancy is linked to the differences between product development and manufacturing. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is an excellent product development platform, but is based on a different “layout” than their previous CATIA V5 and ENOVIA V5 installation.

Being data driven instead of file-based driven makes ENOVIA V6/3DEXPERIENCE an excellent engineering-centric solution for the future.

During the product development phase, the data driven approach might not be an insurmountable problem, but things that are designed also have to be physically built on manufacturing lines. The eBOM (Engineering Bill of Materials), which is produced in the PLM system, will become a mBOM, (manufacturing Bill of Materials) in manufacturing.

It was at this point things became more complicated at JLR, because the manufacturing systems in many instances could not properly manage the eBOM information. In practice, JLR would have been required to completely demolish the old manufacturing systems and build new ones—a very extensive project both in terms of money and time.

The key take-away here is that the links between product development and manufacturing are one of the most critical points of product realization—if it doesn’t work here, the entire company is at risk. Nobody could afford to stand still for as long as it had been required to make manufacturing completely compatible with JLR’s new product development platform, iPLM.

Situations like these have been considered very carefully at Boeing and in view of the dramatic effects a failed passenger airplane may cause, a consolidation on one platform is something that has to be extremely well thought through, tested and evaluated.

A reasonable conclusion is that there must be room for compromises and bridge-building to slowly create the type of Product Innovation Platform (PIP) for product development that the new disruptive technologies require. It’s a demanding “job” and contains solutions based on openness, flexibility, security, modular thinking and maximum compatibility over time.

Siemens PLM won a Bombardier contract for Teamcenter during 2017.
Siemens PLM won a Bombardier contract for Teamcenter during 2017.

“You Win Some, You Lose Some”

The numbers within the aerospace segment are staggering. Dramatic changes have occurred this past year, but above all is Boeing signing the largest PLM contract in history for Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform. This might sound like a huge sum to pay for software, but over the 30-year period of the general contract, the figure becomes more understandable at a little over $30 million a year.

Boeing’s choice still stung for Siemens PLM. But, as the saying goes, "You win some, you lose some,” and when Canadian Bombardier chose to invest in the Siemens PLM suite Teamcenter later in 2017, it lessened the blow. To further the point, on the aircraft side Bombardier is a Dassault Systèmes customer for CAD with CATIA, and for its PLM backbone with ENOVIA. However, as Bombardier moves ahead with its C-series aircraft models, Teamcenter from Siemens will become a backbone for product data management. As for which CAD program which will be used for the C-series, the choice is still unclear whether it will be CATIA or Siemens NX.

In the end, the purchase of software for aircraft development is a complex story where it is not possible to jump from one solution to another overnight. Instead, the "phasing out" of the old software takes place in a process that extends over several years and builds on developing a new product model in the new software suite. The parts that can be reused from the older models migrate to the file format of the new solution in accordance with its structural configuration principles.


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