Improved integration with Microsoft Outlook and Office, new content- and document-management capabilities and new support for IBM software are among the hundreds of upgrades that Siemens PLM Software has made to Teamcenter 8, its flagship product lifecycle management (PLM) software.

The improvements in the latest release of Teamcenter focus on the theme of productivity, "because that's top of mind for our customers right now," says Bill Boswell, senior director of Teamcenter product marketing for Siemens PLM Software.

"[Best-in-class] companies are figuring out how to set themselves up to be more efficient and more productive while cutting costs and having the right products in the pipeline for when the economy recovers," Boswell says. "We've had some great conversations with customers regarding how Teamcenter 8 can help them reach these goals."

Boswell cites a recent Aberdeen Group study concluding that best-in-class companies are three times more likely than others to have implemented strategies and tools that enable cross-department collaboration on product development. The latest release of Teamcenter features a number of upgrades that are designed to encourage such collaboration and wider implementation of PLM across the company, including a Teamcenter ribbon added to the Microsoft Office toolbar that better assimilates product information into Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint.

Also new is a Microsoft Outlook interface that enables users to access Teamcenter data without leaving their Outlook client. Thanks to the new interface, users can extract data from the PLM system and place it directly into an Outlook new-message window; save PLM-related e-mails as objects in Teamcenter; and synchronize the Teamcenter inbox into Microsoft Outlook as tasks, according to Boswell.

"People don't have to hop from tool to tool to participate in the workflows. They can now use Teamcenter inside the desktop tools they use every day," Boswell says. "We're making Microsoft tools live front ends and clients of the PLM system."

Other upgrades include:

  • Integration with logic capture and physical layout tools from Mentor Graphics, Cadence, Intercept and Altium via embedded Teamcenter menus in these electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) systems. From within the respective ECAD application, users can save native design files and perform check-in and check-out operations.
  • New support for IBM software, including DB2 Information Manager, WebSphere Application Server, Tivoli Access Manager and Rational ClearCase.
  • The introduction of formula-, package- and brand-management tools to help eliminate inconsistent branding, improve brand communication and enable brand growth.

Moving to a Unified Platform

Ken Amann, director of research for the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based PLM consulting firm CIMdata, asserts that Teamcenter's move toward a unified architecture "continues to be a big story" for Siemens.

"They are continuing to move all their functional modules onto a unified platform, so you truly have sitting underneath more and more of the overall suite a common data model, a common database and a common infrastructure," Amann says. "Information is shared across the modules. It's not re-entered; it's not redundant."

Amann also points to new content- and document-management capabilities (such as support for templates, embedded PLM menus and automatic rendering) as one area where Siemens "really made some jumps."

Ken Amann, director of research, CIMdata

"It's really going to improve the ability of companies to automate the whole technical documentation and publication process and tie it into the product development process so as you make changes, it can happen automatically," he says.

As for future releases of Teamcenter, Amann asserts that Siemens needs to extend "the depth and breadth of [its] industry solutions" beyond the aerospace, automotive, high-tech and other sectors.

He also expects Siemens to build on Teamcenter's current capabilities in the area of social networking. "[Siemens] probably has one of the broadest product suites in the industry, but they've got some things that they need to do, and I think that's one of them," Amann says.

Coinciding with the release of Teamcenter 8, Siemens unveiled Tecnomatix 9, the latest version of the company's digital manufacturing suite. The release features numerous enhancements as well as new features in areas such as process planning, robotics simulation and commissioning, according to the company.

See Also