Executives check in for an update, promise more news for fall.
Siemens’ annual conference, Realize Live, served this year to enable Siemens Industrial Executives to communicate with users on a broad range of fronts. Siemens Industry Solutions CEO Tony Hemmelgarn talked about Siemens’s role in an industrial world that’s about systems, not applications.
Today, systems are fed by digitization, which may have been accelerated by the pandemic, but Hemmelgarn says most companies are in the early stages. “Only 11% of companies have a clear digitalization strategy,” he says.
For now and the foreseeable future, Siemens Industrial is consumed with EDA. Mentor is now Siemens EDA and represents a third of the company’s business. Siemens has a well-established rule book for assimilation of acquired companies and this played out for Mentor. It went through the gradual process of going from being almost autonomous within the Siemens organization to a flywheel within the Siemens machine for building new business. Now that Mentor is integrated into the Siemens Industrial Software group, EDA is intrinsic to the Siemens software identity.
Many of the major acquisitions talked about at this year’s conference involve EDA including the acquisition of Supply Frame for $0.7 billion. Supply Frame is SaaS tool for allowing companies to reduce costs and make better-informed decisions. It is used in the EDA industry and for printed circuit boards but Siemens says it will be incorporated in its digital twin technology products for other fields.
The company announced the acquisition of Fractal Technology for IP validation and it will become part of Siemens Xcelerator portfolio.
Around the same time as Realize Live was going on, Siemens EDA was also part of the TSMC 2021 Online Technology Symposium. There, Siemens Digital Industries Software announced that its Calibre nmPlatform tools and Analog FastSPICE platform are now both qualified for TSMC’s advanced N3 and N4 processes. In other words, Siemens EDA products in the Calibre and FastSPICE lines have been certified to design for TSMC’s 3 nm and 4 nm processes enabling parts with higher SRAM density and logic density with significant improvements in performance and or power consumption.
Siemens says their advantage comes from the breadth of their digital twin capabilities and that includes EDA, as well as simulation, design, edge technologies, flexibility, the ability to give customers control over their systems. Siemens says they have the ability to help their customers build comprehensive digital twins. In this, the company believes it is unique and it cites its experience as a manufacturer as well as a tools provider.
At the moment, EDA is a very compelling topic. One of the major unintended consequences of the pandemic and trade tensions between the US and China is the challenge to the semiconductor supply chain. Siemens had been challenging the automotive industry to take charge of their electrical supply chain with the ability to design their own electrical subsystem and define the components. That’s looking more and more like a really good idea.
Siemens introduced the idea of Xcelerators in 2019. They are tools, services, and skills that help companies knit together the capabilities they need to build their specific digital twins. As the company makes acquisitions, their technology often gets integrated into the Xcelerator chain as well. Hemmelgarn says Xcelerator allows customers to use complexity to their advantage.
The idea of the Xcelerator platform is to give control back to the customers when it comes to creating working digital twins that will enable them to manage and build their designs. The company described complex products such as electric vehicles, cargo ships that are in operation for decades and need parts now and into the future. Siemens is selling Teamcenter as the information backbone to enable an individual company’s design system and Xcelerator to enable the company to make that system work for them. Siemens Mendix low-code development tool is the glue.
Siemens didn’t really make announcements at its Realize Conference, but it did provide talks and demonstrations of products and technologies that Siemens is working on. Siemens demonstrated its new Simcenter Studio in the talk “Generative engineering for system architectures,” by product manager Mike Nikolai.
Simcenter Studio wraps up some of the complex design and decision-making tools that Siemens has been acquiring into a cloud-based package. This enables a team to take a systematic approach to a design problem in the early concept phase. Rather than narrowing down possibilities, Simcenter Studio works by first gathering all possible solutions. Hence the name generative engineering. The advantage is that a team can search through all possible solutions and, with the help of AI built into Simcenter Studio, identify the best solution.
It’s a patented approach that includes the use of Computational Notebooks to document the process so there’s no mystery as to how did we get here? During Realize Live, Nikolai demonstrated the process to design a power train and he revealed that the system is being tested by early users from the automotive fields and sees the approach being valuable for Marine and Aerospace applications as well. These are all situations where the evolution of hybrid power designs is adding complexity to the design process.
Where does Solid Edge come in?
The Realize Live conference was originally for Solid Edge but it has been changing as Siemens has been growing its Digital Industry Software group. This year, Solid Edge users are part of the larger system. Siemens adding on to Solid Edge to make it a portfolio of tools for startups, SMBs, and divisions of larger companies. The focus in 2021 is to offer these customers a tool that will help them digitalize their processes.
Dan Staples, Siemens VP mainstream engineering, says the company is focusing on its resources for education to help people step up to the challenges of digitalization. He says they’ve seen 200K downloads of Solid Edge Academic and 20% year over year growth.
The Solid Edge team has been mirroring NX with their use of Xcelerators and PDA tools but it has also kept its focus on the core user. The company says they have moved their release cadence to October, which is when Solid Edge 2022 is coming out, and it makes sense to look for a much broader line of capabilities to come with that release.
Staples said the Solid Edge team has been working on over 500+ customer-requested updates but the company only showed a few new changes in Solid Edge. They’re keeping their powder dry. The new reveal included radiate feature, equation-driven curves, subdivision offset and bridge, and convergent modeling to better allow mesh models and BREP models to co-exist. The quick demo is part of Dan Staples presentation in the Realize Live agenda.
The cloud, boss, the cloud!
The emphasis was also heavily on cloud workflows. Yes, in 2021, the emphasis is almost always on the cloud, but when the conversation turns to startups and SMB and complexity, the cloud is the answer for many companies. Siemens has introduced Teamcenter X and is currently rolling it out to customers on a trial basis. Tony Hemmelgarn told the audience at Realize Live that, in this case, Siemens can handle the complexity for you. Using cloud resources can make it easier for customers to choose how they want to take advantage of the cloud.
There are many ways the cloud will be useful in modern workflows and Siemens seems to be exploring all of them. Teamcenter X is one big step, that will also help bring more people into PLM and into Xcelerators.
Siemens has also been experimenting with different cloud approaches. Last year, the company introduced Teamcenter Share and had some promotions during the pandemic to enable free use of Teamcenter Share in conjunction with a Solid Edge license. It was introduced last year at Realize Live and it is still talked about on the Siemens site, but there wasn’t much about it this year.
Teamcenter Share is designed as a resource for designers who are collaborating on a design and it is an attempt to accommodate multiCAD situations. Teamcenter Share lets users synchronize product files and includes support for commonly used CAD applications.
This year, Siemens also talked about online trials for specific cloud-enabled NX workflows and online trials for NT itself but, clearly, the company is not taking anyone path to cloud-based and connected workflows, which makes sense. The benefits of the cloud are now very clear, but exactly how people will work in the cloud will probably differ depending on the jobs they do, the resources they need (and want to pay for), and even individual preferences.
This year, complexity is the message and the Siemens team definitely got that across. Their approach is to be prepared and to have a product for every contingency for the markets they’re serving. And, if there’s not a solution, be sure customers have the tools to create their own approach.
Tony Hemmelgarn told the audience, “There is not more important time in history to have a digitalization strategy.” That’s true, but also what’s coming out of the Realize Live conference is that there isn’t anyone’s digitalization strategy, it’s about picking the right approach for the people, the job, the tools, and the desired outcome. It’s about building systems.
What do we think?
Whew, don’t go looking to Siemens for easy answers. At the core of this year’s Realize Live is Siemens’ promise that customers can make complexity their competitive advantage because they can own the complexity via a comprehensive digital twin. It’s a crazy ambitious idea, but the company is demonstrating its commitment with all the work the company is doing on systems, multiCAD, Synchronous technology, and convergent modeling coupled within the context of an open ecosystem.
Siemens has been doing a lot to build on their vision of the comprehensive digital twin, but the acquisition and integration of Mentor to create Siemens EDA has been a defining move for the company.