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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Autodesk and Siemens Sign Interoperability Deal: Gateway To Open PLM?

March 10th, 2016 by Jeff Rowe

In a major move last week, Autodesk and Siemens announced an interoperability agreement aimed at helping manufacturers decrease the huge costs associated with incompatibility among product development software applications and avoid potential data integrity problems. Through this agreement, Autodesk and Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software business will take steps to improve the interoperability between their companies’ respective software offerings. The agreement brings together two CAD heavy hitters with the common goal of streamlining data sharing and reducing costs in organizations with multi-CAD environments (and these days, who doesn’t have a multi-CAD environment?).


The interoperability agreement aims to decrease the overall effort and costs commonly associated with supporting these environments. In particular, the companies are hoping that interoperability between the offerings from Siemens and Autodesk will significantly improve the many situations where a combination of each other’s software is used. Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will share toolkit technology and exchange end-user software applications to build and market interoperable products.

“Interoperability is a major challenge for customers across the manufacturing industry, and Autodesk has been working diligently to create an increasingly open environment throughout our technology platforms,” said Lisa Campbell, vice president of Manufacturing Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk. “We understand that our customers use a mix of products in their workflow and providing them with the flexibility they need to get their jobs done is our top priority.”

“Incompatibility among various CAD systems has been an ongoing issue that adversely affects manufacturers worldwide and can add to the cost of products from cars and airplanes to smart phones and golf clubs,” said Dr. Stefan Jockusch, Vice President, Strategy, Siemens PLM Software. “Siemens has been at the forefront in helping to resolve this incompatibility issue with a wide variety of open software offerings that significantly enhance interoperability. This partnership is another positive and important step in our drive to promote openness and interoperability and to help reduce costs for the global manufacturing industry by facilitating collaboration throughout their extended enterprises.”

For Siemens and Autodesk, what we’re talking about here are Teamcenter and PLM360, respectively. Interestingly, Siemens says its Teamcenter users number in the millions, whereas Autodesk has been very close-mouthed about the number of PLM360 users since its introduction four years ago.

On several fronts there is more here than meets the eye with this interoperability agreement.

First and foremost, the beginning of an air of data neutrality between these two companies is welcome, long overdue, and may portend good things with other PLM companies joining in the party. In other words, capturing and trapping data based on the whims and revenue hopes of vendors, may be coming to an end, although realistically that end right now is still nowhere in sight.

Anyway, this is hardly the first attempt of companies trying to make nice on PLM data interoperability and a more open environment. For example, starting in 2012, ProSTEP started the Code of PLM Openness (CPO) that combines business and technology requirements. The CPO is an initiative of the ProSTEP iViP Association to establish a uniform understanding of “openness“ in the context of PLM among IT customers, IT vendors and IT service providers. The CPO goes far beyond the demand to provide IT standards and appropriate IT interfaces. It comprises measurable criteria (mandatory, desired and optional) for the categories interoperability, infrastructures, extensibility, interfaces, standards, architectures and partner relationships.


This code primarily relates to the automotive and aerospace industries, but also extends across other industry segments such as aerospace.

The current members of CPO’s core team include:

  • Airbus
  • Atos
  • Autodesk
  • BMW
  • Dassault Systèmes
  • PTC
  • Siemens PLM
  • Toyota
  • T-Systems
  • Volkswagen
  • xPLM

I am surprised that there aren’t more open PLM systems on the market, although several have tried and failed, come and gone. However, a couple notable truly independent exceptions are Aras and Arena Solutions. Both of these companies are based on a fairly open architecture and can accept and exchange data from just any source.

Interestingly, it seems that the most innovative contemporary PLM choices are cloud based. In fact, PLM seems to have accepted and embraced the cloud as the way to go more so than the CAD community. IP is as big or bigger a deal with PLM than CAD, but you just don’t hear as many concerns about it for some reason.

PLM currently is a frontier with regard to interoperability, openness, and method of delivery, but this frontier is being settled and tamed by a wave of pioneers who are paving the way to a better future on the data front.

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One Response to “Autodesk and Siemens Sign Interoperability Deal: Gateway To Open PLM?”

  1. Phil Spreier says:

    These same two companies (Siemens bought UGS so it is “virtually” the same company) signed an extremely similar deal back in 2005. What is different and newsworthy about it now? Why didn’t the last agreement work well enough to end the two companies interoperability issues? They had 11 years to work on it. Seems like this is just posturing.

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