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Siemens Emphasizes Productivity with Teamcenter 8 Release

Touting a focus on productivity enhancements across three key areas and a message of helping manufacturers do more with less, Siemens PLM Software unwrapped Teamcenter 8, a major upgrade to the centerpiece of its PLM platform, along with an enhanced version of its Tecnomatix digital manufacturing software.

Teamcenter 8's user interface has been overhauled to support tighter integration with the Microsoft Office suite, enabling users to interact with the PLM platform from inside the tools and processes they are accustomed to using every day. The addition of new integrated modules for content and document management as well as formula, package and brand management promote application productivity while the integration of the IBM "blue stack" of technology along with support for IBM's Service-Oriented Architecture will make Teamcenter easier to support and integrate with other enterprise systems, easing the burden on IT, officials say.

The announcements come just a week after Siemens announced a major partnership around PLM with IBM. The pair have been collaborating for over a year to ensure the forthcoming Teamcenter 8 comes ready to use with IBM's Product Development Information Framework (PDIF), a set of extensions built on SOA for integrating multiple applications, and comes preconfigured with the WebSphere middleware software and DB2 database management system. Siemens and IBM officials claim Teamcenter 8 is the only PLM platform to be so tightly integrated with IBM's SOA and integration architecture, thus eliminating the need for customers to choose between the two environments.

Bill Boswell, Siemens PLM Software's senior director of Teamcenter product marketing, described the focus of the release as being all about enhancing productivity, especially when customers are tightening their belts and trying to do more with less. By expanding the Teamcenter solution with an end-to-end set of components throughout the product lifecycle and by helping reduce the integration and support issues around PLM, Siemens is hoping to remove many of the stumbling blocks that have been an obstacle for PLM adoption and to help companies position themselves for future growth. "Best-in-class companies are asking the question: How can we be sure we're ready with the right products when the economy starts to recover," Boswell says. "By balancing productivity ... that's what this release is all about."

On a individual level, Teamcenter 8 features a number of new enhancements, including extensive use of the Microsoft Outlook user interface and improved integration with Office 2007. Specifically, Teamcenter 8 adds a "ribbon" to the Office toolbar, making it easier to interact with product information directly from within Word, Excel or other members of the Office suite. In addition, there is now an embedded "Teamcenter To Do List" within Outlook to help engineers manage scheduling, workflow and engineering changes through their everyday office applications. "Teamcenter looks just like all the other Microsoft Office pieces and all the typical tasks you need to do from Teamcenter are available without leaving Office with live updates and live connections," Boswell says. Earlier Teamcenter versions had limited Office integration, only supporting some specific cases around Bill of Materials exports or edits, he added.

Teamcenter 8 also features much more robust integration with ECAD tools, to improve the information sharing and collaboration experience for teams developing mechatronics-based products. Teamcenter menus can be embedded in logic capture and physical layout tools from Mentor Graphics, Cadence, Intercept and Altium, and from within the ECAD applications, users can save native design files and perform check-in and check-out operations. For tools not supported in the Teamcenter 8 release, Siemens PLM Software is offering a new gateway integration application specifically for EDA tools. The upgrade is also integrated with software development tools, including IBM's Rational and ClearCase.

Teamcenter 8 also ushers in an expanded set of applications, including modules for Content and Document Management as well as Formula, Package and Brand Management. In addition to these new modules, the platform offers enhanced lightweight viewing capabilities for better supplier collaboration, advanced requirements and project management functions along with new industry-specific template solutions for aerospace and defense, CPG and medical devices.

In the area of enhanced IT productivity around PLM, Siemens PLM Software is turning to its new partnership with IBM. Teamcenter 8 is now available on the IBM technology stack, shipping to customers pre-configured with IBM DB2 Information Manager and the WebSphere Application Server. In addition, the software supports Tivoli Storage Manager and Access Manager along with Rational ClearCase and the partners will jointly offer consulting and services around PLM.

In a related move, Siemens PLM Software announced Tecnomatix 9, an upgrade to its digital manufacturing software that boasts new features for automating various planning tasks, including those around alternative product assembly/disassembly sequencing and human modeling. The software also offers tighter integration with Teamcenter, enabling improved manufacturing data collaboration between the Tecnomatix suite and Teamcenter PLM backbone.

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