At the PACE Annual Forum last month, our CTO Paul Sicking educated future engineers on High Definition PLM (HD-PLM). He shared with PACE student engineers how we manage innovation and challenged them to think how they will interact with PLM systems in the future to make smarter decisions and better products. I followed up with Paul in the Q&A below.
How do you manage innovation at Siemens PLM Software?
“We’ve identified a dozen or so fields of innovation that are important to us and to our customers. These fields include things like emerging manufacturing processes, simulation, user experience. Then in each innovation field, we identify specific technologies and innovation ideas that are relevant for that field. For example, in the ‘emerging manufacturing process’ innovation field there are several topics related to additive manufacturing. We also need to factor in the element of time – that is, we need to predict when a particular technology will be mature enough to benefit our customers. In some cases, this is clear. In others, it requires more research and investigation.”
You noted that one of the challenges for today’s PLM system is not just linking systems but linking the behavior of systems. Can you explain more about how PLM is integrating system behaviors?
“It’s no secret that today’s products are becoming much more dynamic and more intelligent. That is being driven by more sophisticated electronics and software content. The challenge then for today’s PLM system is being able to manage not just the physical description of the product, but also the behaviors exhibited by the electronics and software. By simulating the behavior of individual systems as well as the integration of those systems into a total product, a company can more accurately and quickly innovate with new products.”
You called today’s automotive vehicles “software on wheels”. How do you think future engineers need to prepare to develop a vehicle with such sophistication?
“The automotive industry is very aggressively delivering products with a high degree of software content as I just mentioned. Hybrid cars, for example, contain millions of lines of code which is about the same level of complexity as some enterprise IT applications not that long ago. So producing a modern car is in many ways a software engineering problem as well as a mechanical or electrical engineering problem. I believe engineers in the future will have a much better appreciation of software’s role in the overall system behavior. Engineering students need to get more exposure to integrated software technologies, whether in the classroom or on their own.”
You noted the differences in volume, variability and number of parts are very different by industry. How do you think the industry focus now in our software will help these future engineers prepare for the future?
“While the underlying technology in our PLM products is applicable across a wide range of industries, each particular industry has unique challenges. The consumer products industry needs to manufacture high volumes, the automotive industry needs to manage the variability of its product lines, and the shipbuilding industry needs to manage massive amounts of data. Future engineers can use our PLM tools to gain a better appreciation for the industry-specific challenges and for the industry-specific best practices to meet those challenges.”
How do you expect HD-PLM to impact how student engineers will work with our tools?
“Our suite of HD-PLM tools will enable student engineers to work in a much more intuitive and productive manner. The advancements in terms of simplicity and user experience will give them the opportunity to access the power of PLM without overwhelming them with complexity. The tools are also available on their mobile devices so they don’t need to be limited by access to a dedicated computer lab as in the past. I also think student engineers will have an impact on our tools because of their innovative ideas of how PLM can be integrated and harmonized with technologies that they are already familiar with, such as entertainment and social media.”
Thanks Paul for sharing these responses.
I’ll see Paul live next week at our annual analyst event in Boston. Follow the conversation (hashtag #splm13) and let me know if you have additional questions for him or the rest of our executive team.