The Digital Supply Chain podcast

SAP And Siemens Teamcenter Integration...What's That All About? A Chat With Gareth Webb

October 18, 2021 Tom Raftery / Gareth Webb Season 1 Episode 170
The Digital Supply Chain podcast
SAP And Siemens Teamcenter Integration...What's That All About? A Chat With Gareth Webb
Show Notes Transcript

In the manufacturing world, many organisations use software solutions from SAP, and Siemens.

In July of this year, we in SAP announced our road map to integrating our  solutions with Siemens' Teamcenter which showed that Phase 1 of that road map would launch in October of this year (2021).

To find out how the integration is proceeding, I invited the solution owner Gareth Webb to come on the podcast.

We had a great conversation spanning the reasons why this integration is needed, how it differs from any previous 3rd party integrations,  and where to from here for this solution. 
I learned loads, I hope you do too...


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Gareth Webb:

This I think is the first time we're actually customers need to consider their entire business process and what this integration could enable because of the reasons that we we've outlined whether those are counter market sustainability changing business models. I think customers really need to look at this with a different pair of eyes.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening wherever you are in the world. This is the digital supply chain podcast, the number one podcast focusing on the digitization of supply chain. And I'm your host, global vice president of SAP. Tom Raftery. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the digital supply chain podcast. My name is Tom Raftery, with SAP and with me on the podcast today I have my special guest, Garreth. Garreth, would you like to introduce yourself?

Gareth Webb:

Hello, Tom. Very pleased to be here today. So yeah, my name is Gareth Webb, I work in the solution management team here at SAP. My direct responsibility is for all of our computer aided design product lifecycle management and erp integrations.

Tom Raftery:

What does that mean?

Gareth Webb:

So very good question. So I mean, obviously, the integration that I particularly support is to join together the two domains of sort of engineering design, with the the sort of manufacturing, SAP supply chain and procurement of the end to end lifecycle of a product's life basically.

Tom Raftery:

And what I mean, what kind of products are we thinking about here?

Gareth Webb:

Okay, well, principally, obviously, the the area of focus that we're concentrating on at the moment is the very strategic relationship that we've have developed with Siemens. So Siemens is the proprietor of a product called team center. And team Center is one of the preeminent product lifecycle management solutions on the market. And obviously, we formed this partnership to really drive a transformation in the industry to bring the manufacturing and engineering worlds together. And we need to do that on the basis of the ever increasing levels of complexity and products that are out there. You know, cars are getting even more complicated, I think we've moved away now from mechanical complexity, and we're into things like software complexity and, and high degrees of configuration in terms of customer's choice. And obviously, if you're going to make more complex products, you need to manufacture more complex products. And you need to understand how all of these components of vehicles or whatever it may be all come together to ultimately drive out of the factory and into our hands so that we can use them. And the purpose of this integration is to enable that richness of information that comes out of the engineers heads in terms of their creative processes, into something that can be made, manufactured, and then obviously, produced and supply to us as consumers. So the integrations are a key enabler in that lifecycle.

Tom Raftery:

And what does for let's say, I'm a manufacturer of, I don't know, maybe it's airplanes, maybe it's cars, some bit of hardware essentially, could be computed or something. And I'm interested in this, what do What benefits do I get from this integration that you're talking about?

Gareth Webb:

Well, the primary benefit is obviously, information flow. What's important to downstream processes is understanding and appreciating the richness of information. Sometimes it's about the the actual definition of a component in terms of what constitutes its makeup yet, what materials it's made of what specific alloys and materials, it's made of that that information needs to flow downstream. And other times it might be somebody needs to visually understand what a product looks like, in order to be able to produce assemble, or whatever. And the benefiting the king key benefit of the integration is about making sure that we get that richness of information into the hands of the right people who can make decisions at the right time, to overall reduce waste in the process of getting products from idea to actually in the hands of a consumer. So that's the principal benefit, you know, from time to market reduction of waste in the process, and officially making sure we're not sort of double entering data and in injecting human data inefficiency in that process.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, so enabling doing away with entering stuff from you know, clipboards, to tablets to the whole information flow being kind of like a, what they call it a digital thread. Is that the expression I'm looking for?

Gareth Webb:

Yeah, exactly. That Yeah. And that's the principle of the integration too. maintain that continuity of the of the digital thread. Now obviously one of the big transformative things in terms of what we're working on at the moment is most people's perception of the digital thread. is it's a uniform, one directional process. Well, obviously, that's not not the case. And clearly, what we're trying to do with this partnership with Siemens is break that kind of stereotypical flow and start to look at Well, what information can the integration support come in back upstream as well, in order to make our time to market even more efficient, and that could be the availability of certain materials that may be required to produce our products, whatever it may be, it may be the availability of components within the supply chain. I mean, things like the obviously, many companies at the moment are struggling to find semiconductor chips and things like that, you know, if those kinds of supply chain related problems are visible to an engineer through an integration from the kind of procurement end of the lifecycle, and supply chain management end of the lifecycle back into the product, as it's being designed, then clearly, the engineer can start to make different decisions, based on that information flow through that digital thread. In terms of what he might choose to do in his product, he might design an alternative, he might choose to go down a different route with his design. So yeah, the digital thread isn't is not just about flow in one direction. It's a it's a bi directional flow of information between these these two domains, if you like.

Tom Raftery:

And, I mean, we're talking now about design and manufacture. But does it assist beyond the life of well beyond the manufacturing time of whatever it is, we're manufacturing?

Gareth Webb:

Yes, I mean, this is one of the big shifts that we see in in many of our customers. Now, the concept of service Lifecycle Management creeping into products being manufactured, I think it was a very well known aircraft manufacturer kind of coined the phrase power by the hour, many moons ago, that that kind of concept is creeping into everybody's kind of conscious product design thoughts now, whether that be electrical car manufacturers that are thinking about getting into distribution of power, or, you know, returning power to the grids, and making revenue streams from those things, you need to understand how your product can support that kind of shift in business model, if you like. And therefore, you need to consider the product's whole life in in its design, and concept phase now. And yes, this this type of technology is designed to not only aid the process of getting the vehicle or whatever it may be out into the customers hands as quickly as possible. It's also designed to share the information about its operational life back through that that set of systems assuming that you obviously recording what's happening in with your product in the field, whether that's using IoT capabilities, or you've got some kind of kind of continuous connectivity of your product, that information can flow, right the way back into the hands of a product engineer, or from the field via, you know, field based data capturing techniques. All of this information is extremely valuable into designing the next generation of products, particularly in the concept of this service based lifecycle where the companies will make money not from selling the product anymore, by selling the service that the product provides. And that's the key, the key thing and we're working with a number of sort of tractor manufacturers thinking about servitization of tractors and harvesting, you know, those types of equipments through to aircraft engines, and pretty much, you know, any, anything on that spectrum can be served at ised if you've got the right capabilities and the understandings to what it takes in a product design to achieve that, and obviously, enabling that is this digital thread of information.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, I presume if it was agricultural equipment that would be powered by the flower. Absolutely. Okay, well, but going beyond that, so And what I mean by that is, there's a lot of talk now about, you know, enabling circular economy, is that something that this can help with as well?

Gareth Webb:

Yes. So understanding how a product is used in the field and the characteristics or operational thresholds within which that that product has been used as it is a key distinction and utter determination into what can happen with that product post its life, you know, if you understood how it's being used, if it's been maintained Well, you can then start to think about what, okay, within the construct of this product, what things become reusable, and therefore circular, maybe it's the housing have particular components, it just needs a new coat of paint or whatever, because it's been used within within the threshold of that product. Or maybe it's some sort of component within that product that actually has been truly exhausted in terms of its usable life. But because you've understood the component and the materials that are used within that product, once it has truly reached end of life, then you can begin to decompose it into constituent parts that can then be recycled or, you know, maybe repurposed into into other products. So completely understanding what's in the product down to every nut, bolt, washer, raw material, alloy of raw material, understanding how it's being used, will certainly aid that whole process of the kind of circular nature of products. And this helps us in in terms of society, in terms of our sustainability and impact on the planet.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. Fantastic. Now teamcenter has been around a while and so have we so, you know, people have integrated these two things before, what's different about this integration?

Gareth Webb:

Or what a fantastic question. So I think the principle difference now is we're living in a slightly different world, you know, customers are moving away from traditional on premise systems, where they have teams of people that are responsible for managing maintaining systems. And with also the, the advances that have been made in and around sort of cloud security customers are much more likely to transition their workloads to clouds on the basis of obviously, you know, flexible infrastructure and everything else that that can support peaks and troughs of performance. So the integration is really focused on enabling those types of architecture that support both on premise systems, cloud based systems. And, and therefore, we've had to fundamentally change the architecture as to how these two products communicate with each other, you know, legacy products, use API's to make distinct discrete calls, sending across individual parts, or material master information. And then they send across the end process and transact Billa material information. And that all takes time. And if you start to change the fundamental architecture solutions, where you're going from on premise to cloud based architectures, where you may have slightly increased latency of network, etc, that's gonna have an impact on your overall performance of the solution and your ability to transact. So one of the principal design changes that we've made within this new integration is to change that architecture, we've gone to a much more cloud, Future Proof technology platform. We're using bulk API's and the large volume transaction capabilities to speed up the process of integration. But also, as we've highlighted already, on today's podcast, with that increasing complexity, and increase in variations of products and formulations of products, the data volumes gone up. Therefore, fundamentally, we've had to change the architecture for performance. So that, for me is principally one of the key changes in our architecture of the new platform, but also a real emphasis around that, by directionality of integration, you know, we're now focusing much more to enable some of these processes that we've described, you know, servitization, the whole understanding of the supply chain in terms of speed to market that requires much more information to flow back in the other direction than has ever been undertaken before. And therefore, again, that's why this integration, that real hard focus around that digital thread, the bidirectionality of that digital thread, is very different to anything that's currently on the marketplace.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, do we have any outcomes that we can point to for people?

Gareth Webb:

Well, I mean, we can look at pure transaction times and things like that, in terms of the performance of the product, and based on some early analysis that we've done loading bulk data, we were estimating a sort of 20 to 30% more efficient process of transferring that information. But yes, this product is launched at the back end of October in 21. Whilst we've done as much testing as we as we possibly can, a lot of the proof points will be when we, when we really get customers in there and, and it's at that point that the integration from from our perspective becomes quite exciting because we feel that there's a real benefit to customers out there. And when we start to look at that end to end process as a whole, I think we can get way beyond the efficiencies of non functional performance of an integration into actual tangible process improvement benefits and time to market benefits that, you know, I think we really need a customer to kind of verify what that benefits going to be. I mean, we've got some estimates around a 20% kind of efficiency saving from cradle to grave, but those numbers are open to interpretation, and will be, I'm sure, much greater than that, based upon a complete transformation of the customers process that we can now enable through this integration. It's an exciting time, we urge customers to think outside the box now and stop considering unidirectional processes and start considering that that bidirectionality in terms of time to market, and are more efficient come.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Where to from here? I mean, you said the launches end of October, what happens after that?

Gareth Webb:

Yeah, so between the two organizations, we committed to an initial three phases of development. So phase one concludes, as of the end of October, early, early in November, we've already got a committed roadmap for the second phase coming out in quarter two of 22. And then the final phase of this agreed period coming out in the sort of fall q4 of 22. Beyond that, we're already looking at what the next phases of integration are. We've established six synergy areas as part of our partnership, those being visualization, service, Lifecycle Management, configuration management, portfolio, project management, supply chain collaboration, and systems engineering. So those are the key principles within which this this partnership has been established. And we've got a long way to go. And obviously, we're very excited about what the what those next steps look like, and where we can drive true transformation in our customer base. So it's to step step one, as I said, have a long journey and a very exciting partnership we're seeing

Tom Raftery:

today is getting those six out without having to look it up.

Gareth Webb:

ingrained in my memory.

Tom Raftery:

We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Gareth, is there any question I haven't asked that you wish I had, or any topic we've not touched on that you think it's important for people to think about?

Gareth Webb:

No, I think I've just re emphasize the fact that this integration is very different. You know, as you mentioned, already, you know, integration has been around for a long time between product lifecycle management and and the P manufacturing world. This I think is the first time we're actually customers need to consider their entire business process and what this integration could enable, because of the reasons that we we've outlined whether those are time to market sustainability, changing business models, I think customers really need to look at this with a different pair of eyes. So I think it's just a real emphasis of that point. Really.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic. Fantastic. Guys, if people want to know more about yourself, or about the integration, or any of the topics we touched on today, where would you have me direct them,

Gareth Webb:

what we've just launched our new SAP teamcenter, by Siemens web page, and that can be found and is available through sap.com. What you'll find on that page is a way of getting contact with us. And you'll also find the latest information about the integration as and when it becomes available post launch. And if you want to get in contact with me directly, then obviously the best way is either through my email address, which is Gareth web, three, Gareth dot web@sap.com. Or you can find me on LinkedIn

Tom Raftery:

superbe. And if you send me a link to that page, I'll put it in the show notes so people can have access to it. Absolutely. Great, Gary, fantastic. That's been really, really interesting. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Gareth Webb:

Thank you very much for having me. Much appreciated.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about digital supply chains, head on over to sa p.com slash digital supply chain or, or simply drop me an email to Tom Raftery at sa p.com. If you'd like to show, please don't forget to subscribe to it in your podcast app. of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.