By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader,
Covering PDM as your erstwhile, objective news guy in, say, 1998, bugged me: Some 60 companies hawked PDM and every one of them targeted and priced it for Fortune 100 manufacturers. I’d ask: What about the majority — small- and medium-sized manufacturers? SMBs have the same needs as the big guys: time to market, managing the process, and so forth. It’s just a matter of scale.
Times change and, over the last 10 years, PDM offerings for SMBs have flourished. Teamcenter Express from Siemens PLM Software is recognized as one of the leaders when it comes to PDM for engineering and manufacturing SMBs. And there’s a reason why: Teamcenter Express is a function-rich system designed to overcome typical SMB constraints: limited IT resources and cranky engineers.
Actually, Teamcenter Express is a cPDM system ("C" for collaborative) and it’s the hub of Siemens’ Velocity Series. Let’s start there. The Velocity Series is a set of integrated solutions that create a unified digital design, analysis, and manufacturing environment for SMBs — PLM. It offers full associativity between CAM and CAD, embedded CAE in CAD, and cPDM. The main modules are Solid Edge, Femap, CAM Express, and Teamcenter Express. And, yes, the Velocity Series is interoperable with, and scalable to, the full Siemens PLM portfolio and open to working with third-party applications. Siemens is, after all, the outfit that develops Parasolid and JT.
Teamcenter Express, now in version 4, brings you a single, shared source of secured data for your design-analysis-manufacturing process. It also offers embedded project and multiple program management and control. Better yet, an optional web-based client enables shop-floor folks — get this — to be a collaborative part of the process rather than an assemblage of isolated people trying to figure out who actually imagined that they could design cost-effectively and on time.
Teamcenter Express also has a flexible search capability that fosters design reuse as well as simple-to-use and understand design review, release workflow, and change-management procedures. A key characteristic for SMBs is that Teamcenter Express is built on Microsoft standards such as Windows 2003 and SQL Server, making IT resource demands, implementation, and maintenance migraines minimal. Even things like standard reports, dataset types, dataset forms, BOM formats, and lists of values come with installation.
Truth be told, engineers get grumpy over things like cPDM, perceiving them as some sort of evil business honcho plot intended to make life miserable by being difficult to learn and use. Teamcenter Express parries that by being easy to learn, using Windows standards, and by being designed to be as non-noxious as possible. Plus, features like 2D/3D document viewing/markup and analysis as well as the ability to integrate multi-CAD data into a single product structure — viewable and manageable as a complete assembly — are cool and always useful.
Teamcenter Express V4 gives SMBs the systems the big guys have but without the overhead. Today’s Pick of the Week write-up has the low-down on what’s new in Teamcenter Express V4. Then check out the links to its features and other interesting info (no registration!).
Thanks, Pal — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine