The iPad Army’s Latest Conquest: Teamcenter

A screenshot of Teamcenter Mobility, now available for iPad.

A screenshot of Teamcenter Mobility, now available for iPad.

Teamcenter Mobility promises easy access to PLM data from mobile devices.

Teamcenter Mobility promises easy access to PLM data from mobile devices.

The iPad army has knocked down the walls of PLM (product lifecycle management), guarded for years by Windows firewalls and desktop PCs. The mobile workforce has already left its footprint in the portfolios of Autodesk and Dassault Systemes, spawning AutoCAD WS Mobile, SketchBook Mobile, and 3DVIA Mobile, among others. This week, Siemens PLM Software opened its gates, offering up Teamcenter Mobility as its tribute.

In January, in my interview with the company’s president Chuck Grindstaff, he said, “You’ll be happy to learn that we’re just in the final phase of testing and releasing some applications for the iPad that reaches into our data stores and provide real-time feedback.”

This week, in the official announcement of Teamcenter Mobility, he said, “By making up-to-the-minute Teamcenter data available at the necessary point of activity, our customers can act immediately on accurate information and further reduce their design and production cycle times. This is entirely consistent with the vision of HD-PLM to help our customers make smarter decisions that result in better products, thus enabling them to establish the competitive advantage of being the first to deliver innovative solutions the market will embrace.”

The application, now available for the iPad at Apple app store, comes in two versions: Teamcenter Mobility ($19.95) and Teamcenter Mobility Free ($0.00). The free license is intended as an evaluation copy. It allows you to connect to Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter server, allowing you to examine the application’s features. The fee-based version lets you connect to your own Teamcenter server (version 8.3).

The application will let you:

  • perform Teamcenter searches, filter, and sort to clarify your view;
  • access the change-management dashboard to view changes and issues in pie-chart format;
  • view task-lists, workflows, and related documents (drawings and 3D JT models, for instance);
  • view 3D JT models directly from a web page;
  • view revisions and related items for each selected revision;auto-populate forms with user information;
  • review and sign of on pending approvals

The app connects to Teamcenter data store through secure socket layer (SSL) and WiFi. It also comes with an off-line mode, allowing you to download content and work where you may not have a WiFi connection. But once you’re connected to the network, the app will synchronize your updates with the server.

While computing-intense functions such as 3D modeling and sophisticated finite element analyses (FEA) are expected to remain on the desktop, many peripheral functions like data management, markup, annotation, and presentation are swiftly moving into the mobile devices.

NEi’s mobile FEA application, previewed earlier this year, is now available for download for free. Though it’s not meant for complex FEA jobs, it lets users perform quick calculations based on load, stress, and primitive shapes, making it ideal for field use.

Ted Schadler, a Forrester analyst who specializes in content and collaboration, advised, “To keep your workforce loving your business applications as they go mobile, you will have to redesign the fundamental architecture for delivering apps. The architecture of Client-Server (and Browser-Server) is inadequate. You will need to build from an architecture of devices and services.  The mobile app Internet is that architecture: local apps (including HTML5 browsers) on smart mobile devices and cloud-hosted interactions and data.” (“The Mobile App Internet Wags The IT Dog: A Post For Content & Collaboration Professionals,” February 28, 2011.)

Charles Curtis, another Forrester analyst, observed, “Five years from now, six in 10 U.S. workers — about a quarter of a billion people — will work virtually … The mobile workforce is not just about shiny new devices like smartphones, tablets, and apps. It’s about delivering your workplace experience — across social, content, and collaboration technologies — to employees and customers when and where they need it” (Forrester’s Content and Collaboration Forum 2011 announcement).

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