Autodesk and Siemens PLM have reached an interoperability agreement aimed at helping manufacturers decrease the costs associated with incompatibility among product development software applications. The companies also want to help customers avoid potential data integrity problems. The common goal is to streamline data sharing and thus reduce costs for companies with multi-CAD environments.
The agreement sprang from customer requests to help reduce the expense of dealing with the incompatibility of the two systems. “In automotive we have mutual customers, and the industry’s OEMs have big supply chains with mixed CAD and PLM environments,” Lisa Campbell, VP of manufacturing strategy at Autodesk, told Design News. The OEMs came to us saying they didn’t want to spend their IT resources making sure our products worked with others. So we and Siemens said, ‘Let’s work together. Interoperability shouldn’t be our customers’ problem.’”
Ending the Babel of Multi-CAD Systems
Many Autodesk and Siemens customers operate in environments with multiple CAD software systems. Multi-CAD environments develop internally between departments or externally with supply chain partners. Thus, interoperability among CAD software has emerged as a critical issue for users of design and engineering software. Achieving interoperability can become a major challenge for manufacturers.
Exactly what systems get addressed in the move to interoperability depends on customer need. “What we address depends on what workflow problems we’re solving. If what we’re doing is compatible with an old release we’ll do it, but if the retrofit is older, we may not do it,” said Campbell. “Customers wouldn’t benefit if we worked on interoperability for a release from a few years ago.”
The interoperability agreement aims to decrease the overall effort and costs that are commonly associated with supporting these multiple CAD environments. According to Autodesk and Siemens, interoperability will significantly improve situations where a combination of their software currently exists. Under the agreement, both companies will share toolkit technology and exchange end user software applications to build and market interoperable products.
The Emerging World of Seamless Integration
This agreement is not the first among design software vendors or even the first between Autodesk and Siemens. “Some people framed this as the end of the Cold War. They think this is the first time Siemens and Autodesk have collaborated before. That’s wrong. We have agreements going back to 1997,” Stefan Jockusch, VP for strategy at Siemens PLM, told us. “What was in place before was data exchange. With the new agreement, we are able to build the interfaces inside the product instead of just offering data exchange.”
Now that the agreement is in place, the two companies will begin the process of developing the interoperability. “We have a legal basis that was driven by both companies. So now we will have to create the functionality. It will be some time before the integration is possible,” said Jockusch.
Siemens sees openness among systems to be the ultimate goal. A system that is compatible with other systems is more valuable to customers. “We’re doing this partially because an open software product is more attractive than one that is closed. Both companies have a strategy toward more openness,” said Jockusch. “We’re addressing a trend. The customer demand is strong. Openness is more attractive and gives the customer more confidence in the product.”[image via Autodesk/Siemens PLM]
Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.