This week Siemens PLM announced – "Daimler AG has selected CAD Software from Siemens as their standard for their worldwide vehicle development". The event of such size is notable in the PLM space and generated a significant amount of buzz and publications. Despite the fact most of publications talked about what was a decision base for Daimler AG, my favorite quote was from Graphic Speak article:
All the MCAD/PLM vendors want the major automotive manufacturers as their customers, for both the bragging rights and the additional sales to the supply chain. But automotive is not the big story in the next few years for PLM. Recently PTC disclosed to business analysts information on their current competitive campaigns. They listed the number of targeted customers by existing PLM platforms. “In-house or home-grown” was in second place, with Siemens PLM the only vendor with more installations in the PTC cross-hairs. Real market growth is not coming from a few large vendors who have been using PLM for years, but from the thousands of smaller manufacturers who will leap-frog from a “PLM system” based on AutoCAD, Excel, email, and Windows Explorer to state-of-the-art engineering IT. This larger market is wide-open.
CAD and PDM History
For many years, CAD system was a leading software component in the overall strategy related to the design and engineering world. The decision about CAD was always one that set up the agenda to work with a vendor. At the same time, PDM was an appendix to a CAD kingdom. PDM integration with CAD system was considered as strategically important. The ability of PDM to be connected and used together with CAD environment was one of the key decision points for many companies. The importance of CAD (design) data was absolutely undoubted.
New Horizons of Product Data
In my view, last 10 years, introduced some changes in the priorities of engineering IT. The importance of "integrated solutions" raised significantly. The driver behind that is the understanding of manufacturing companies about how to control cost. The importance of product data management beyond CAD and design became clear for large OEMs and even smaller companies. The amount of product data outside of design environment outgrows the amount of CAD data. The introduction of lightweight data formats like JT, XVL and others decreased the dependencies of people outside of the design department on CAD data. Today, PDM system is a platform used to support expanded product data scope. Most of these systems are heavily customized. In includes the complication of CAD-PDM integration. However, the importance of the global product data management is growing.
PLM Platforms and Cost of Change
CAD/PLM vendors noticed the importance of vertical integration in the beginning of 2000s. This factor led them to decisions about the future platform strategies. All PLM vendors spent significant resources over the past decade to modernize and re-architecture their platforms – TeamCenter Unified, Enovia V6, Windchill. Lots of money was spent to introduce modern backbones, expanded portfolios and integration strategies. However, the reality in the field is heterogeneous software landscape. It leads to a question of "change cost" as the most important element of the future PLM decision.
What is my conclusion? Cost is important. In 2000s , the decision CAD vs. PDM was almost always CAD + any PDM Integration. Which means – CAD First. We learned something new this week. PDM and Data Management becomes more and more important. The cost of global product data platform change and potential IT disruption is much bigger compared to the cost switching to another CAD. So, in 2010s, the math CAD <or> PDM is different and the answer is probably PDM change + IT cost. Which means PDM and product data backbone first. This is an important difference, which will have an implication on engineering and manufacturing software decisions of the current decade. PDM system position can give some advantages in the PLM giant wars for large automotive and aerospace OEM accounts. Questions about cost of change and untapped PLM markets are more interesting, in my view.