Keynotes for the second day of PLM World, the Siemens PLM user event, focused on training the next generation workforce for technical positions.

Bill Boswell, newly appointed to a senior position to lead the company’s efforts in this area, termed the workforce situation as nothing less than a “crisis in manufacturing.” He first stated the problem that includes an estimated 10 million unfilled engineering jobs globally. He then explained that Siemens PLM contributes much to solving the problem including the GO PLM program, Siemens STEM Academy, partnering with a K-12 Discovery program, holding Science Days in schools and partnering with local community colleges to start a PLM degree program.

Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Dept. of Labor, gave what I’d term a “true” keynote in the sense that it was an evangelistic speech designed to get attendees motivated to helping with the problem. Her main point concerning government programs is the change made under the current administration to move the job training program in a direction of more relevancy. Training money must now go toward industry recognized credentials or degree program needed by business. She also addressed the power of conferences, citing the networking and enthusiasm shown during the reception on Monday evening in the exhibit hall. “I know that manufacturing is coming back,” Oates concluded.

CEO Interview

I was fortunate to obtain a private interview with Chuck Grindstaff, president and CEO of Siemens PLM. The last time I talked with him he was still CTO–that gives you an idea of his technical background. That plus the fact that he talks with a pen in his hand making drawings to help explain his points.

There are times I can be the poster child of tact, then other times when I decide to be a bit blunt. When the Siemens executive discussed the UGS acquisition with me five years ago, I pointed out to him the track record (not good) Siemens had in digesting acquisitions. He told me that they had learned and would do better with this one.

My observations have been that he was correct, so I asked Grindstaff from his point of view how the integration was going. His response, “Integration going well. Siemens gives us the ability to do more than we could have before.”

One of my areas of focus is how to move data from design to manufacturing engineering to operations and maintenance. This started a discussion of the need to be able to abstract data from the application. Vendors can do their thing within the application, but there is a need to be able to make some data available for other uses. One of the standards Siemens PLM emphasizes is JT.

Velocity, now Mainstream Engineering, update
Karsten Newbury, senior vice president and business leader of the Mainstream Engineering (Solid Edge, Velocity) group, explained the next advancement–Synchronous Technology. A customer described the new product as enabling designers to design the way they want to, not the way the software forces them to.

In fact, the customer, who was obviously an engineer not comfortable talking to editors and analysts, eloquently described moving his system from SolidWorks to SolidEdge (Siemens PLM) and how that enhanced the design process for his company.

Insight XT was introduced to the media–a Microsoft Sharepoint application for managing files and documents. It fills a spot that TeamCenter may not reach for collaboration.

During my “one on one” meeting with the Tecnomatix team (actually 4 on 1, but that’s OK) I asked about Digital Manufacturing. First, a little background. Six years ago I had a conversation with a Siemens executive about its concept of digital manufacturing. The next year, the company announced the acquisition of UGS (Unigraphics to EDS to UGS, and UGS had acquired Tecnomatix) and the creation of Siemens PLM which was seen as a major step toward realization of the DM goal.

The team was adamant that the vision of DM is still big, but that it needs culture change in addition to technology to bring the different disciplines of manufacturing together. That sounds like a constant theme I’ve sounded at Automation World in that we need both technology and people.

One of the cool projects Tecnomatix can do is production line simulation. They did the baggage line at the Bangalore airport, for example. Its data can feed TeamCenter Manufacturing and TeamCenter MRO.

The coolest quote of the day was this one the team gave me from Eli Goldratt (The Goal), “IT will add value if it diminishes a limitation.”

The group has also released an iPad app, available on iTunes, called Tecnomatix 360. It offers a “360 degree view” of manufacturing–not visually exactly, but offering fact sheets and case studies about different aspects of manufacturing.

Previous discussions

Here are a couple of my old posts on digital manufacturing and the acquisitions. Interesting that Siemens have continued to forge ahead while the Rockwell initiative has had starts and stops in its history.

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