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Joseph Lopez
Joseph Lopez
Joseph is an experienced marketing professional with a demonstrated history of working in the engineering and information technology and services industry. He is skilled in marketing strategy, search engine optimization (SEO), copywriting and web design. With a Master of Computer Information … More »

Digitizing existing plants more efficiently with artificial intelligence

September 27th, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

Plants usually no longer fully correspond with the planning status when they are commissioned, and they are subject to further changes during operation. Modernization, however, requires up-to-date as-is documentation. Together with a partner, PROSTEP offers plant engineering companies an AI-based service that allows an automated digitization of existing plants.

The documentation of the state of a plant is not only crucial when it comes to modernization measures. It also enables the use of 3D models for applications such as virtual operation or training purposes. Identified plant components also facilitate the use of augmented reality to support maintenance activities. For these purposes, the 3D models must correspond to the as-is-status, which in practice is often only the case with new plants.

Plant engineering companies today have to go to considerable lengths to digitize existing plants. A manually remodeling on the basis of 3D scan data is necessary. The piping systems of large plants alone can consist of several thousand pipe sections. Accordingly, digitization becomes time-consuming and cost-intensive. A particular challenge in this context is the correct identification and assignment of the piping and other equipment, such as pumps. The logic of the plant structure and the meta-information are stored in the corresponding P&ID-diagrams and must be linked to the 3D models.

PROSTEP’s new 3DigitalTwin solution offers an elegant, faster and economical alternative to the manual digitization of plants. The core of the solution is an AI-based software that generates a digital twin from a point cloud in a three-stage process. It is capable to automatically recognize object structures, such as piping and equipment, and convert them into 3D models. The model of the plant is then enriched with the process knowledge from the P&ID.

PROSTEP developed the 3DigitalTwin solution together with the Digital Asset Experts from SCHULLER & Company, who support companies in a wide range of industries in managing their plant data. Based on the knowledge gained in the DigiTwin research project about the AI-based evaluation of scan data from production systems, PROSTEP and SCHULLER further developed the solution to meet plant engineering specific-requirements.

You can find out more about the new solution and its benefits in our new brochure  and on our 3DigitalTwin website.

By Johannes Lützenberger

OpenPDM 9.3 with tighter links to the ALM and ERP world

September 26th, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

With version 9.3, PROSTEP will be presenting the second major release of its OpenPDM platform for PLM integration, migration and collaboration this year. The main focus of its further development was, on the one hand, placed on improving connectivity to the ALM and ERP world and, on the other hand, enhancing the user-friendliness of the interfaces and reporting functions.

PROSTEP is currently developing a new connector to the application lifecycle management (ALM) platform codebeamer – the result of close collaboration between the ALM vendor Intland and our subsidiary BHC, which specializes in ALM/PLM solutions for electronics and software development. It is intended that the connector be released for OpenPDM 9.3 this year. The new version also includes connectors to the ALM solutions Polarion from Siemens and PTC Windchill RV&S (formerly known as PTC Integrity), to the ERP system from IFS, to the Primavera P6 software from Oracle, and to Cameo Teamwork Cloud from Dassault Systèmes. The Windchill connector has been extended and now also supports PTC Windchill’s REST interface.

New and further developments include further improvement of the export functions and the logic of the connectors to ensure that large data structures can be exported more easily and with a higher level of performance. It is also easier for users to respond to infrastructure problems and trigger automatic retry without administrator support. The mechanism can be managed more finely.

The new semantic check for Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) offers developers much better support when it comes to defining processes for data synchronization. If inconsistencies are identified, they are alerted to potential problems before the first test run with test data.

The representation of the process history has also been significantly improved, which is especially helpful when dealing with a large number of processes. They are displayed in the process report in graphical form, thus making it easier for developers to navigate the graphs and interact with the processes.

The file service in OpenPDM 9.3 now also supports the integration of cloud-native solutions such as AWS S3 buckets. In the context of Infrastructure as Code deployment, new and improved templates are available for automatically rolling out OpenPDM in an AWS or MS Azure virtual private cloud. Support is provided for the container solutions Elastic Container Services (ECS) and Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS) from AWS, as well as Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS). Deployment can be carried out with proprietary languages like CDK as well as with Terraform.

By Mirko Theiß

Downstream processes in shipbuilding require early PDM-ERP integration

September 26th, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

Downstream processes in shipbuilding require early and bidirectional integration between the PDM and ERP systems used in product development, production planning and production. This was one of the key messages of the third episode of our PROSTEP SHIPBUILDING PLM INSIGHTS webinar series, in which we presented different PDM-ERP integration scenarios to participants.

Product development and realization requirements differ in all industries, which is why companies generally use different IT systems to manage product structures, 3D models, drawings, etc., and material data, routings and manufacturing bills of material. Shipyards are no exception. However, they have special requirements for the adaptability of PDM-ERP integrations because manufacturing processes vary from shipyard to shipyard and sometimes from site to site. In addition, many shipyards use homegrown ERP systems because commercial solutions did not initially cover all their needs.

The main challenge in PDM-ERP integration in shipbuilding is to synchronize the different structures of engineering and manufacturing BOM (Bill of Material) in parallel and bidirectionally, as PLM Consultant Nils Sonnenberg said. He explained the different integration requirements to participants, using the example of purchased and in-house manufactured parts. “We need the development data early in the ERP system to use it for supplier communication, for example, and to better estimate delivery times.” Design options for parts manufactured in-house would also need to be regularly checked against the master record in the ERP system to ensure that the user is only using approved parts.

How shipyards should handle the challenge of needing multiple MBOMs for different locations was one of the interesting questions in the webinar’s closing Q&A session. In other industries, companies use the option of creating a generic MBOM already in the PDM system and only then transferring it to the sites’ ERP systems, Sonnenberg said. But there can be no general answer to the question because it depends, among other things, on whether the company in question has the MBOMs created at the sites on site or at a central location.

On the other hand, the question posed by another participant as to what the ideal combination of PDM and ERP systems for shipbuilding is, and whether shipyards and their design partners should use the same systems, could be answered clearly: There is no such thing as the ideal combination. More important than the question of which systems to use is how to integrate them so that collaboration works. Thanks to powerful integration platforms, this is no longer a technical problem. Helping companies integrate their heterogeneous IT system landscapes is one of our core competencies.

In total, more than 50 interested parties attended the two live presentations on PDM-ERP integration. If you missed the third episode of the webinar, you can watch the recording here. In the fourth episode, at the request of the participants, we will hold a demo session about episode 1-3 topics. We will inform you about the date and agenda in time if you register right here.

By Matthias Grau

PROSTEP presents OpenCLM – THE solution for the digital thread

September 25th, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

PROSTEP is bringing a lean, smart web application for generating digital threads to market: OpenCLM ensures data transparency across domain boundaries and makes it possible for everyone involved to trace deliverables and decisions. This makes it easier for companies to get to grips with complex development projects and respond agilely to new requirements.

Ensuring end-to-end digitalization (digital thread) across different domains involves a considerable amount of effort on the part of those responsible in companies today. Data is typically distributed across a large number of data silos and has to be collated and linked manually. OpenCLM significantly reduces the amount of time and effort this involves. The software creates a directed web of relationships between the information objects in the individual domains. This makes it possible to locate information in heterogeneous system landscapes, record and analyze correlations and statuses, generate reports automatically and meet compliance requirements.

OpenCLM creates digital threads throughout the entire product lifecycle, providing support for a variety of different use cases. Looking forward, the application is used to manage project progress, monitor the quality and compliance of the project results, and communicate changes across domains. Looking backwards, it allows impact analyses, defect management and helps meet traceability requirements in the context of audits.

With OpenCLM, we are not offering our customers a new super PDM but rather a lightweight web application that merely links the information objects in the domain systems and provides users with the information they need to perform their work. We want to help them exploit the potential of the digital thread without them having to change their IT landscapes or processes.”

Our new digital thread application connects heterogeneous system landscapes (PDM/PLM, ERP, ALM (Application Lifecycle Management), etc.) via our proven OpenPDM integration platform and supplements them with additional integration and function modules. Its core functions include the integration of process and project management, maturity validation, the planning of milestones and deliverables (tasks), the coordination of cross-domain changes, and the generation and management of trace links and configurations.

OpenCLM makes it possible to link data and documents from different source systems instead of replicating them while at the same time giving due consideration to process requirements. The links are independent of the IT systems used and remain unchanged even when switching to a new system. The linked data objects are displayed with metadata such as status, change date, owner, etc. in a clear and concise cockpit, so that they can be easily compared with other data statuses.

So-called baselines can be created for milestones, given points in time, etc. in order to record certain information. If required, they can also be exported, exchanged or archived in standardized formats. Reusable project and process templates ensure consistent and compliant project and product documentation, as required for certification purposes for example.

More information about OpenCLM and the supported use cases can be found on our homepage or in the new white paper.

By Steven Vettermann

Fast Data Transfer for fast Vessels

September 24th, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

OpenPDM supports AUSTAL Shipyard’s PLM Integration – AUSTAL, Australia`s global shipbuilder and one of the world’s leading shipyards for naval and commercial high-speed vessels, is currently undertaking a modernization of their IT-landscape. After jointly developing AUSTAL’s PLM strategy and roadmap in 2020, AUSTAL and PROSTEP continue their collaboration and launched a new project in June 2021 to develop AUSTAL’s future digital enterprise platform based on PROSTEP’s OpenPDM.

In order to achieve seamless information flow between AUSTAL´s enterprise data management systems including PDM/PLM, ERP, DWH, and PPS, AUSTAL and PROSTEP jointly launched an integration project in June 2021. AUSTAL’s digital transformation already includes the implementation of a new ERP system and has just started the improvement of existing PDM capabilities. Therefore, the call for traceable and robust connection of the various databases as part of AUSTAL’s digitalization activities was just a consequent next step to consider.

The Australian shipbuilding experts were looking for a suitable solution providing data federation across company borders, IT systems and domains while supporting transaction, security, and status monitoring according to their needs. The OpenPDM platform together with its marine & offshore specific spin-off OpenPDM SHIP addresses these requirements and provides built-in PLM semantics optimized for shipyard processes on top. For AUSTAL it is crucial to have a scalable and robust integration solution that can be operated and maintained by their own IT department. Therefore, they decided to start building their digital enterprise platform based on OpenPDM.

Following the principle “think big, start small, scale fast” the first step on the way to AUSTAL’s future digital enterprise platform is the implementation of use cases addressing data exchange between design and resource management.

This approach has several advantages for AUSTAL. The new capabilities can be used productively right away, robustness of processes is ensured and by involving AUSTAL´s IT experts in an early stage, they will get trained to run, maintain and enhance the integration platform afterwards.

As an example, purchase parts currently stored in a legacy system will be transferred to the new ERP system. During the transfer from the legacy system into ERP, the purchase parts get augmented with meta-information from an inhouse developed data warehouse system. Successfully transferred to the ERP system, the enriched part data will be used by several downstream processes including material requisition and procurement or internal disposition as stock parts.

To specify the future development stages in according to the shipyard needs, PROSTEP will drive the implementation in close collaboration with AUSTAL during the whole project. After the successful integration of the PDM and ERP systems, the implementation of drawing transfer, product-structure transfer or operating cutting work orders are in scope. Further on, the integration of additional systems is envisaged. From enterprise planning to payroll systems various solutions are in focus to be integrated into AUSTAL´s new digital enterprise platform.

Andrew Malcolm, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at AUSTAL said: “With OpenPDM we found the integration solution that meets our requirements today and enables us to scale as we go and adopt to future needs as they arise. In this way we are prepared for the challenges to come, enabling AUSTAL to successfully master the digital transformation.”

By Nils Sonnenberg

Mars Rover now supports an even greater number of use cases

September 24th, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

PROSTEP first presented the Mars Rover as a demonstrator of its wide range of software and services at its 25th anniversary celebration. Since then, for example, the chassis and housing of the vehicle originally designed by NASA have been further developed and the physical Mars Rover has been linked to the digital Mars Rover in order to map use cases like the digital thread.

New PLM technologies and concepts such as the digital thread, traceability, model-based systems engineering (MBSE) and the digital twin can be very abstract. With the aim of making them easier to experience at events, PROSTEP has built several models of the Mars Rover based on NASA’s design documents. The argument in favor of the all-terrain vehicle was the fact that it is a complex mechatronic product and as such is ideal for demonstrating new technologies and methods. The model can be used universally and, because it is “rocket science”, it can be presented to the media and the public particularly effectively.

The Mars Rovers were used for the first time at PROSTEP’s 25th anniversary celebration in early 2019, and they subsequently also caused quite a stir at the Hanover trade fair (HMI), the prostep ivip Symposium, the IoT Solutions World Congress held in Barcelona and other events. The coronavirus pandemic has only interrupted their career as a major public attraction. We intend to be back on tour with the new generation of Mars Rovers by the first half of 2022 at the latest.

We have used this forced break for a major “pit stop” and have equipped the Mars Rovers with more powerful steering and drive motors. In two student projects, the rocker bogie was optimized using a hybrid (plastic/sheet metal) construction and plastic components manufactured using additive manufacturing processes. This has made the physical model of the Mars Rovers much more robust, which means that it now requires less maintenance after being used. A positive side effect is that the new Mars Rover variant can be used to demonstrate the PLM capabilities of variant management.

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An agile culture helps with the digital transformation

September 23rd, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

A few months ago, André Radon succeeded Sebastian Grams as chief information officer (CIO) of SEAT S.A. and the CUPRA motorsports brand. In an interview with the PROSTEP newsletter, he explains the IT strategy that the VW subsidiary is using to master the digital transformation from a classic carmaker to a software-driven mobility provider.

Question: Why does SEAT need a CIO or, to put it another way, how much freedom does the subsidiary have in defining its IT strategy?

Radon: IT at SEAT is firmly integrated in the Volkswagen Group’s IT. We help define the strategy and even take the lead here and there. We use services that our colleagues at Audi or Volkswagen provide, just as they use services that we provide. But you still need someone who is responsible for IT locally to ensure that you’re able to respond to the specifics of the markets. Staffing policies and distribution channels in Spain are a bit different to those in Germany, and then there is also a factory where a lot of cars are manufactured, and which has to run reliably. You need someone to take care of IT on site, especially when, as in the pandemic, you suddenly have to upgrade the entire IT infrastructure within a week to ensure that, from one day to the next, over 6,000 employees can continue work in the same way as usual, but from home.

Question: How does restructuring the Group’s IT impact on SEAT and CUPRA?

Radon: We define shared system landscapes or “platforms”, to use a word that is very popular right now. Our company is well known for this in terms of vehicles. But there is also a platform strategy in the context of IT. We currently hold a prominent position here with DPP, our digital production platform, which we are developing together with AWS and other partners, and which is intended to link all the factories that manufacture vehicles. Again, you have to tailor it to the individual factories with their legacy systems. At the same time, there will also be a global engineering platform that we’ll help shape with our specific requirements.

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PROSTEP and Intland are working together on ALM integration

September 22nd, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

PROSTEP is collaborating with Intland Software, the company that developed the application lifecycle management (ALM) platform codebeamer, on developing a new OpenPDM connector. It will make it possible for Intland customers to easily and quickly connect their ALM solution to PLM systems or other enterprise applications using our integration platform OpenPDM.

The motivation behind the partnership between the two companies is the increasing proportion of software in smart products and the customers’ need to better integrate software developers and their tools in the overall product development process. Tighter links between ALM and PLM systems is required to achieve end-to-end digitalization across different domains. PROSTEP is taking account of this fact by expanding its OpenPDM integration platform to include standard connectors to leading ALM platforms such as codebeamer. The ALM solution is becoming increasingly popular in, for example, the automotive industry.

The OpenPDM product suite and preconfigured solution packages make it possible for users to implement use cases and application scenarios for the digital thread with a manageable effort. The integration platform already has connectors to all leading PLM and ERP systems and to other enterprise applications, e.g. for requirements management. At the same time, it provides the basis for OpenCLM, our new solution for establishing end-to-end digitalization across domains. In combination with the market leading ALM solution, it lays the foundation for integrating the PLM backbone, requirements management, systems engineering modeling and software repository in one central platform.

Read the rest of PROSTEP and Intland are working together on ALM integration

The Digital Thread makes complexity manageable

September 22nd, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

Nowadays, manufacturing industry uses highly complex IT systems to develop equally highly complex products that include an increasing number of electronic and software components. However, the attempt to cast out the devil of complexity with complex PLM solutions is increasingly being stretched to the limit. If users are to get to grips with this complexity, they need applications that are as innovative as they are easy to use.

The key to mastering complexity is end-to-end digitalization from development to manufacturing through to operation and back again. This means that the operational data that is normally collected and evaluated on IoT platforms needs to be linked to the development objects and manufacturing information. Only then can the interrelationships and dependencies be made transparent for all the domains involved at all times.

The ability to weave this digital thread without allowing it to break during the product lifecycle is an essential prerequisite for the traceability of deliverables and development processes. Without this traceability, companies are unable to respond agilely to new market and customer requirements. This means that the digital thread is becoming key driver of competition in times of global unpredictability, which is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Manufacturing companies must position themselves strategically if they are to master the digital thread. To succeed, they need a strategic overall concept for ensuring end-to-end digitalization, which is or should be an integral part of any sustainable PLM strategy.

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OpenPDM MIGRATE supports Windchill Bulk Migrator

July 1st, 2021 by Joseph Lopez

With the presentation of Release 9.2 of OpenPDM, PROSTEP has also converted and released the special migration solution OpenPDM MIGRATE to the cloud-enabled technology. Thanks to microservices architecture and the separation of mapping engine and connectors, external migration tools from PLM vendors such as PTC’s Windchill Bulk Migrator can now be flexibly integrated.

OpenPDM MIGRATE is our toolset for data migration that has proven itself in numerous projects. With the new release, we are putting our proven methods and tools on a new technological footing. They enable loss-free migration from older PLM systems to the latest releases of PTC Windchill, Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE or Siemens PLM Teamcenter.

In the development of the new release, we have consistently focused on microservices, offering the full flexibility of the new software architecture to our customers. This makes it even easier, for example, to integrate migration tools from PLM vendors into our tool suite. One such tool is PTC’s Windchill Bulk Manager (WBM), which can be used to import user data into Windchill or export it from Windchill in one fell swoop using a variety of scripts.

In almost every migration, our customers have the requirement not only to move the data from the legacy system to the new one; they also want to enrich it with additional information from external sources such as a file or ERP system. We have built on this strength of OpenPDM in the new release. The software prepares this data, merges it, filters out unimportant information and thereby improves the data quality.

The prepared data can then be initially imported into a new Windchill system with high performance as a “big bang shot” via the Windchill Bulk Migrator. Subsequent updates and delta migrations continue to be performed using the familiar strategies with the proven OpenPDM connectors. The target system does not have to be shut down for these delta supplies or even later migrations of individual assemblies.

OpenPDM MIGRATE basically supports various migration strategies, from migration on demand to selective or step-by-step migration of specific subsets of the data to migration of the entire dataset in one fell swoop. With this extension the customer gets even more options to define his migration strategy. With the integration of WBM, we are significantly expanding the strategic options in the area of big bang migrations. Our goal is to always migrate users and data together in order to achieve maximum performance.

OpenPDM Migrate - Windchill Bulk Migrator Support
By Michael Buchholz

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