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PLM and ERP Connect the Digital Thread for Innovation

By Joe Bohman, Senior Vice President, Lifecycle Collaboration Software, Siemens Digital Industries Software

PLM vs ERP? For many years, manufacturers have debated where to draw the line between product lifecycle management (PLM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) – which system will play what role in connecting engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, asset management, and more. Recently, Siemens and SAP announced that we are joining forces to accelerate industrial transformation.  Through this new partnership, we will help our customers break down the silos in their companies with solutions that reflect the complementary relationship between PLM and ERP.

Siemens and SAP announced a new partnership to break down the silos between engineering and manufacturing with new solutions to connect the digital thread between PLM and ERP.

Increasing product complexity requires a seamless digital thread

The increasing product complexity across mechanical, electronic, and software domains has made it more important than ever for our customers to have a seamless digital thread connecting product information and processes across all the departments and disciplines throughout the product lifecycle.  For example, Konecranes, a leader in the global overhead crane industry, is already leveraging the synergy between PLM and ERP to create one integrated, cohesive system. Konecranes uses Teamcenter to capture and communicate the digital twin from engineering through all the downstream processes, including ERP, to help them deliver their range of products from mass-produced to custom lift products.

“Supplier side people like manufacturing engineering are working with Teamcenter data, getting data   from the actual designs and engineering departments and then leveraging that,” said Antti Venäläinen, Solution Architect, PLM Services, Konecranes. “Also for the supplier we are updating the manufacturing bill of materials in Teamcenter. For the service side we are managing our spare part kits, things like that with Teamcenter and so we try to integrate all of our data in a single system and manage it in a single system.”

“It benefits […] procurement so purchasers are able to find that information for example related to all the commercial components in one place,” said Antti Korhonen, Process Owner, Product Master Data, Konecranes. “Later in the lifecycle if there’s a need to do modernization, we can find the complete crane product structure.”

For companies like Konecranes, the partnership of Siemens and SAP will deliver better, more fully integrated end-to-end software solutions across product lifecycle, supply chain and asset management to provide people across the business with real-time access to product and business information.

SAP will offer Siemens' Teamcenter software as the core foundation for product lifecycle collaboration and product data management. Siemens will offer SAP Intelligent Asset Management solutions and SAP Project and Portfolio Management applications to maximize business value for customers over the entire product and service lifecycle and enable new collaborative processes between manufacturers and operators.

Customers of Teamcenter and SAP will no longer need to determine where to draw the line between PLM and ERP. Instead, they will be able to leverage the partnership’s investment in end-to-end solutions to more efficiently design and deliver innovative products productively, profitably, and sustainably.

Why this partnership, and why now?

For many manufacturers, Teamcenter and SAP have been the PLM and ERP systems of choice, and each customer has determined the strategy for how to connect those systems. Both Siemens and SAP offer solutions to connect Teamcenter and SAP, along with overlapping capabilities within each portfolio.

Today, the Teamcenter integration with SAP S/4HANA software offers an intuitive and flexible integration  between the product creation and manufacturing planning processes managed in Teamcenter with asset information and other enterprise business processes controlled by SAP S/4HANA. Teamcenter users can access all relevant data without having to leave the familiar work environment regardless of where the data resides. Processes become transparent to users as engineering changes or release workflows are no longer confined by system boundaries. Processes can start and end in Teamcenter or SAP S/4HANA.

Going forward, as the accelerating pace of this 4th industrial revolution necessitates a shift towards  digitalization, our customers are looking to their software vendors for new solutions. By teaming up, Siemens and SAP will go beyond just integration, and connect product information across the entire lifecycle through a true digital thread that connects product- processes with business operations asset management and supply chain

Both SAP and Siemens will soon offer new solutions that combine the best of Teamcenter and the best of SAP S/4HANA technologies to help companies shorten time to market leveraging Industry 4.0-enabled intelligent products and assets. This will also give organizations the benefit of incorporating customer experience into product development through a comprehensive solution, from product design through to service and asset management.

Why the Siemens-SAP partnership matters for manufacturers

Siemens and SAP are setting the direction for the future of our industry. Silos between engineering and the rest of the business have existed in companies for decades.  By coming together as partners, Siemens and SAP will help manufacturing professionals break down these siloes within their own companies so manufacturers, product design teams and service managers have the information needed to quickly create and manage customer-centric product and service offerings.