Thought Leadership

Teamcenter X addresses manufacturers’ challenges in an ETO and CTO environment

By Blake Snodgrass

Cloud technology is changing the product development process and fundamentally impacting business operations. In a recent PLM Teamcenter X podcast, we examined how machine builders can blend their engineer-to-order (ETO) and configure-to-order (CTO) demands. 

In this summary blog, our system experts, Chris Pennington, Global Industry Marketing Leader for Industrial Machinery at Siemens Digital Industries Software, and Jaques Mostert, Solution Director for Industrial Machinery at Siemens Digital Industries Software, discuss the PLM system, Teamcenter, that supplies equipment on an engineer-to-order base, which is becoming more challenging to deliver profitably over time. 

>Listen to the podcast.

ETO and CTO environments

Jaques Mostert
Solution Director for Industrial Machinery at Siemens Digital Industries Software

Engineer-to-Order (or ETO) comes intrinsically with risks when doing something for the first time. Subsequently, companies must find ways to reuse design, leading to a configure-to-order (or CTO) working method. Industrial machinery customers need companies that don’t necessarily make the same products, so there is a uniqueness about each machine. Though some reuse is possible, it must be consistent with what was previously done.

Therefore, in an engineering environment, ETO and CTO are combined. Consequently, as machines get smarter, so do the software electronics, which are vital to the product, and create more complexity as an electrical engineer’s job is no longer merely making the mechanical components move. 

Chris Pennington
Global Industry Marketing Leader for Industrial Machinery at Siemens Digital Industries Software

There is also an emphasis on improving profitability, as complexity can’t be managed through spreadsheets and emails. It is essential to have a managed environment where multidisciplinary teams can collaborate in real-time, thus the need for PLM for machine builders.

Out of the box pre-configuration

PLM for machine builders is a pre-configured system ready to go out of the box. Because most machines must be unique, companies must work in an ETO and CTO way. The solution needs to allow companies to manage the requirements they see from customers because of the engineering-to-order aspect; there will be changes to manage, which is what this system effectively manages.

Also, the cloud solution is the mainstay of all design processes, allowing control of the CAD data supplied by Siemens and the primary CAD vendors. When CAD data is stored in the cloud, the PLM system allows a global team to access the latest version with materials directly derived from the CAD. Also, those without access can access the lightweight 3D model and 3D drawings via the built-in viewer.

However, there are several challenges that machine builders must address, such as pandemics, supply chains, or any massive disruptions that apply pressure on machinery companies. Consequently, there’s a need to be more productive, getting more accomplished with fewer costs. Additionally, there’s a need for skilled talent as factories become more automated and smarter. Machines are more connected with more sensors and are controlled by sophisticated automation systems.

Smart machines and machines-as-a-service

“All these smart and connected machines generate massive amounts of data that must be analyzed. Or they can be analyzed to improve processes and drive more optimization. If you take all this back to the engineering perspective, it all results in a much more complex engineering process…as machine builders play smarter connected machines into the field, these machine builders are learning to track your operational life data,” says Jaques Mostert

Therefore, machines-as-a-service doesn’t sell them the machine but the throughput of the machine. This new process is challenging the conventional operating models. Machine builders are addressing complicated scenarios, such as improving productivity through blended ETO and CTO and managing machine configurations to maximize use while remaining flexible to customer requirements.

The PLM system can do this; however, it can be complicated to implement, which is a hurdle for small- to medium-sized companies using the software. Therefore, cloud solutions enable small and medium-sized companies to access PLM systems to update, maintain and manage complexity. 

Furthermore, being Siemens developed the software, it’s easy to upgrade and maintain it, which is the basis of a Siemens’ solution. Thus, it allows these companies to begin their PLM journey. Subsequently, if the company grows and finds that machine builders are insufficient, you have Teamcenter as a basis, to grow more capabilities later.

Siemens Xcelerator, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software, helps companies of all sizes create and leverage a comprehensive digital twin that provides organizations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation.

For more information on Siemens Digital Industries Software products and services, visit or follow us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram. Siemens Digital Industries Software – where today meets tomorrow.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at