It is not a secret that products are getting more complex. There are so many examples of complex products and systems around us. Product complexity creates challenges in different engineering disciplines. For mechanical engineering it is a challenge to design complex objects with sophisticated electro-mechanical behavior. Self-driving car is a great example. For PCB engineers – to create high performance electronic hardware with complex form factor. Think about all slick gadgets around us. Embedded system engineering and software engineering are developing control systems and compelling user interface for all devices. Finally, connected devices are demanding cloud software integration directly into mechanical products. My favorite example is electric bike with cloud-based connected software operated from mobile phone device.
But, engineers involved into the development of all these projects are not connected as well as we expect it to happen. Actually, I’d say that engineering tools involved into every step of the development are integrated very badly. Often, file sharing, spreadsheets and emails are the most widely used integration tools. Integration difficulties can create significant problems. PLM developers focused on mechatronics and multi-disciplinary product data management already for long time. But the integration is still bad and fragmented.
Engineering.com article Will EDA merge into PLM? raised the point about potential integration of two large domains – PLM and EDA. The article was triggered by Siemens PLM M&A activity – Siemens PLM announced their acquisition of Mentor Graphics. Engineering.com articles confirms all good reasons – financial and product related for the acquisition.
Looking at the acquisition in terms of financial growth, there is no doubt Siemens as a whole will see a revenue growth and margin expansion, but there are several benefits related to strategy, software portfolio and technical expertise that Siemens PLM will receive after Mentor Graphics becomes part of its portfolio. Strategically, this acquisition fits with Siemens 2020 vision, which is inline with the changing demands of the customers that need smart, connected products. Siemens PLM has been working for a few years to build and enhance its portfolio of products that address the issues that multidisciplinary manufacturers tackle.In 2012, Siemens PLM had acquired LMS International to enhance its simulation capabilities and extend its mechatronics portfolio. Its Mechatronics Concept Designer in NX also helps companies looking for systems engineering solution.
All these news are good for Siemens to expand its design tool coverage, but my attention was caught by the following passage:
Mentor Graphics is no stranger to PLM. Its Data Management Services (DMS) addresses the need for PLM integration. DMS part list management lets users manage ECAD bill of materials data related to designs directly from XpeditionxDX Designer.
Here is the thing… All EDA tools already have some data management tools. Some of them are generic and others are very sophisticated tailed to the specific needs of electronic design data management, collaboration, configurations, parts, components, bill of materials and others. Combining them together can be an interesting engineering and product task. Customers, obviously, will demand smooth integration, while development team will be challenged by removing of data management redundancies and integration workflows.
Getting back to the question asked by Engineering.com article about EDA+PLM merge, it made me think that merge can potentially eliminate unnecessarily data management redundancies and streamline processes. However, to achieve that goal, engineering team potentially will be requested to optimize, rationalize and cut existing infrastructure and products, which is typically not an easy task in every M&A scenario. An alternative to such aggressive approach will be yet another integration layer with tailored business logic and protocols.
What is my conclusion? EDA merge into PLM can create a potential to build a unified platform for electronic and mechanical design. “Unified” is not a new word in a lexicon of Siemens PLM created Teamcenter Unified just few years ago. However, merge might be a complex task and will require elimination of redundancies and expanding existing PLM infrastructure. It will be interesting to watch how Siemens PLM will approach it in the following years. Just my thoughts…
Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased