Say Goodbye to Tedious Engineering Reports with New AI Tool from Siemens and Microsoft

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You’ve just finished a long chat with your engineering design team. You all had a good handle on the status of the project then, but now it’s time to get it into a report for the PLM system and you just can’t keep track of it all. Thanks to some help from Microsoft, Siemens Digital Industries Software is aiming to address this issue—and more—by adding language-based, AI-generative tools to Siemens Teamcenter. 

 Siemens and Microsoft to bring language-based, AI-generative tools to Teamcenter. (Image courtesy of Siemens Digital Industries Software.)

Siemens and Microsoft to bring language-based, AI-generative tools to Teamcenter. (Image courtesy of Siemens Digital Industries Software.)

AI text bots aren’t likely to replace engineers anytime soon. However, it is conceivable that engineers who abstain from the technology will be replaced by their peers who choose to take advantage of the efficiency boosts AI tools can produce.

“The integration of AI into technology platforms will profoundly change how we work and how every business operates,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI, Microsoft in a press release. “With Siemens, we are bringing the power of AI to more industrial organizations, enabling them to simplify workflows, overcome silos and collaborate in more inclusive ways to accelerate customer-centric innovation.”

Why Merging Microsoft Teams, Siemens PLM Technology and AI is Brilliant

This new functionality will be branded as a Teamcenter app for Microsoft Teams, and is expected to hit the market sometime in 2023. The tool will be able to take recorded audio conversations and document them into reports using Azure Open AI Service. So in the above example, by simply recording the conversation on your phone, the app will be able to parse the speech of your team members and automatically produce a report in Teamcenter. This report can then be automatically sent to the design, engineering and manufacturing teams that need the information.

This doesn’t all have to be done in the same language, either. Engineers can discuss and work in their performed language and then the tool will translate it into company official languages using Microsoft Azure AI. Teams will even be able to make push notifications to simplify the approval and design change workflow.

This all translates into speeding up innovation cycles by making the tedious parts of the engineering profession, such as reporting, a much simpler endeavor. Instead of starting from a blank report template, the engineers will start with a full report that is most of the way there. With a few read-throughs, the document should be accurate, validated and approved in no time.

The new app has another added advantage. Since it’s embedded in Microsoft Teams, it will enable workers without access to PLM systems the ability to impact the designs and lifecycle of a product by capturing their inputs within any meeting.

This Technology Will Change Manufacturing Automation, Too

This doesn’t end with report writing and meetings either. Siemens and Microsoft are aiming to use AI to help in the generation of code for programmable logic controllers (PLCs) meaning that this technology will also make waves on manufacturing floors.

The idea is that the tool will create the PLM code using natural language prompts. The engineers will simply tell the machines in the factory how to best operate, AI will translate that into code and then the code makes the machines work exactly as the engineer prescribed. This takes another tedious engineering task and reduces it to little more than a conversation.

“Powerful, advanced artificial intelligence is emerging as one of the most important technologies for digital transformation,” said Cedrik Neike, member of the managing board of Siemens AG and CEO of Digital Industries. “Siemens and Microsoft are coming together to deploy tools like ChatGPT so we can empower workers at enterprises of all sizes to collaborate and innovate in new ways.”

For far too long, the promise of engineering software tools has been to simplify the tedious and repetitive tasks of engineering so that subject matter experts can actually concentrate on value added endeavors. The jury is still out, but AI might just be the software tool to make this a reality.

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at Engineering.com, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.