Tony Hemmelgarn, CEO and PresidentDuring the design and development phase of the Composite Crew Module (CCM)’s Pressure Vessel Pathfinder, NASA quickly realized the challenge of enhancing the veracity between the engineers’ projections and the wrinkles, ply angle, and flat patterns that resulted during the development stage. Juxtapose that with the involvement of nine out of the ten NASA sites across the U.S. and several other companies with expertise in design, manufacturing, tooling, and more in the aerospace industry, the complexity grew manifold. During the early development stages, Mike Kirsch, CCM Project Manager at NESC, NASA’s Langley Research Center, happened to see the presentation of “Fibersim”, a comprehensive composite material design and manufacturing workflow solution developed by Siemens PLM Software. Impressed by the presentation, NASA opted for Fibersim that offered benefits such as the ability to export to CNC systems, boundary projection on the tool and overall, the ability to collaborate over an integrated platform in a project involving a geographically dispersed team. Fibersim became an indispensible part of NASA’s CCM initiative, taking pride in closing the “fracture” between the virtual design and the prototype, as affirmed by Mike, “I don’t think it would be economical to construct something like the crew module without Fibersim.”
The quote from Mike is descriptive of solutions that comprehensively streamline and close the missing links of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Siemens PLM Software, with its recent acquisition of Mentor Graphics, plans to help companies “digitalize” (as opposed to just “digitize”) by stringing a virtual thread across each component of PLM, from the conception stage, all the way through prototyping, production, application, and usage analytics. “Sometimes I’m not sure that our customers truly understand what this really means,” says Tony Hemmelgarn, President and CEO, Siemens PLM Software, “It’s not about taking your existing processes and shoving them into the digital world. It’s not even about best practices; it’s about next practices.” The PLM software solutions provided are in-line with their vision of taking entire organizations along their journey to achieving an optimal Digital Enterprise Strategy.
It’s not about taking your existing processes and shoving them into the digital world. It’s not even about best practices; it’s about next practices
The journey itself begins with “Teamcenter”, the equivalent to the Master Production Schedule (MPS) of manufacturing, collating data from design frames, documents, Bill of Materials, and Material Requirements Planning, to create systematized workflows. The suite of design software solutions incorporates systems based development, that integrates mechanical, electrical, software, and electronics component designs. In addition, with Siemens PLM Software’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES), the user can leverage metrics monitoring, automation, 3D printing, and so on, enabled by a tight alignment of virtual and real world.
The simulation of the entire PLM cycle is based on creation of a “digital twin” of the product itself, and communication between the twins even beyond the shop floor, when the product is in use globally. Hemmelgarn says that this unique aspect allows design optimization on the fly, “Our software allows our customers to create a digital twin, an accurate virtual representation of the product and its manufacturing processes to predict and optimize performance in the physical world. We think we do this better than anyone in the industry.” In addition, the incorporation of data analytics, to provide insights on customer experience adds value back to the design stage, potentially creating space for the next idea— closing the loop of manufacturing and product development.
Siemens PLM Software concentrates primarily on the Industry 4.0 concept, and has honed its strategy around digitalizing enterprises and their product lifecycles. Hemmelgarn summarizes with enthusiasm, “This is a truly holistic, unique digitalization strategy for helping our customers transform their operations into a digital enterprise.”