Sharing CAD and other design-related data across a network of dispersed suppliers has always been a major burden for OEMs, despite the promises of increased collaboration through product lifecycle management (PLM) platforms. In recognition of that still-acute pain point within its traditional customer base, Siemens PLM Software is offering a way to facilitate the exchange of CAD design data between OEMs and their suppliers that don't run the Teamcenter PLM platform.
The new Briefcase Browser builds on the PLM platform's Briefcase functionality and opens it up to suppliers that don't have access to the main system. The idea behind the Briefcase is to package all the information required to complete a task: the CAD design data (in this case, Siemens' NX or JT file formats) and related documents providing the 3D CAD data and related meta data, which could include specific properties, descriptions, and other forms of context.
Teamcenter users already could exchange such packages, but they previously could not be offered to suppliers that were not part of the core PLM platform, according to Kerri Doyle, Siemens PLM Software's product marketing manager of supplier integration for Teamcenter.
Doyle told us that between 70 and 90 percent of suppliers still collaborate with OEMs using asynchronous methods. That staggering statistic highlights the need for a solution like Briefcase Browser, which can facilitate data exchange by providing a more efficient means of sharing design data among a distended supplier network. "This provides an efficient way for OEMs to package up their data for export and share it with suppliers."
Briefcase Browser, which Siemens officials call a low-overhead, low-installation tool, is more than a lightweight viewing package. In addition to packaging additional content like part structures, specifications, and properties, the tool brings automation to the mix. It simplifies the import and export process and reduces the administrative overhead for OEMs, which no longer need to dedicate bodies to overseeing CAD file data exchange.
"In the package, along with the design, there is a fully described exchange," Dale Peterson, Siemens PLM Software's product manager for supplier integration, told us. As a result, suppliers understand exactly what they need to do, and all the relevant information is available to them in an easily consumable format.
The need to streamline supplier collaboration has been one of the main areas of focus for new PLM alternatives. We've reported previously on platforms like Kenesto, Vuuch, and Sunglass, which are leveraging new paradigms to address the longstanding challenges of getting an extended supply chain to collaborate on designs using the most up-to-date information and streamlined processes.
"This is our way of addressing some of these concerns," Peterson said.