Get this: we’re using Teamcenter to visualize a car, trying to assess the impact of a design change. First, we zoom in on the components that are in a specific area a foot forward of the steering wheel. Then we shift from a location-based view to a system view, as we look at all of the components that make up the climate control system. Then CEO Chuck Grindstaff zooms out a bit, and a bit more, and more … and we see that we’re looking at the details of this car in the context of the cargo ship it’s on. It was very cool and I wish you could see it too, because it’s emblematic of Siemens’ vision for the next generation of PLM: a high-definition, immersive environment for decision-making about product design, simulation, manufacturing and service.

Siemens recently invited industry analysts and media to Boston, to tell us about HD PLM, what’s going on with its industry marketing programs, and what’s coming in its flagship brands (Fibersim, NX, Teamcenter, Tecnomatix and Velocity). Lots to cover, so let’s get going.

Siemens PLM says it’s doing well

Siemens PLM doesn’t publicly release financials, at the strong urging of its parent company. EVP Paul Vogel did share some heavily redacted information:

  • Like everyone, Siemens PLM’s revenue dipped in the recession. In fiscal 2011, total revenue finally returned to the level seen in 2008; license revenue is expected to exceed 2008’s level this fiscal year. But even in the downturn, the division was focusing on profitability, and the company says it now has its highest margin ever.
  • Siemens PLM says its organic license revenue growth beat out that of PTC and Dassault Systemes for 3 of the last 4 years, and that it believe its organic license growth is “#1 over last five years”.
  • Revenue from all countries is expected to grow in fiscal 2012 (ending this month), with the strongest growth seen in Germany, Canada, Korea, Russia and China. The top 3 markets remain the US, Germany and Japan.

Without numbers, it’s hard for an outsider to draw real conclusions. But even with this “data” it appears that Siemens PLM is growing, profitable and extending its reach.

Blurring the lines between PLM and the rest of Siemens

One of the most interesting take-aways from the session was how closely the PLM division is working with its Siemens siblings. The PLM team has access to people who design and build all sorts of devices and machines and can work with them to craft PLM solutions that are specifically targeted to their needs. The PLM developers can understand, from the inside, what those users need and have them help test and refine the solutions. The users, of course, get first access and an early adopter advantage.

Siemens’ customers will start seeing benefit, too. PLM’s ties with other divisions are manifesting in offerings that are combinations of a hardware item from Siemens Automation or some other division, plus software from Siemens PLM. In one such combo offering, a Siemens medical imaging device (CT-Scan or MRI) is paired with design and CNC solutions to customize a joint replacement implant. Siemens’ technology was used for pre-op planning, guided the surgeon to remove the right amount of bone to appropriately seat the implant, and was used to design, manufacture and QA an implant keyed to that particular patient’s need. From the surgeon’s portal to the imaging machine to the CAD and CNC software, all Siemens.

For many, Siemens’ acquisition of PLM (then UGS) was confusing, seeming to come out of left field. We’re now, 5 years in, starting to see the logic behind it all.

Serious about shipbuilding

Siemens PLM last year identified eight verticals that it wants to address — as SVP Industries Steve Bashada said, “You can’t do everything” — and gave an update on progress for automotive/transportation, electronics/semiconductors, industrial equipment/machinery, aero & defense, consumer products/retail, marine, energy/utilities and medical devices/pharmaceuticals. Each vertical has a lead who is charged with mobilizing resources across Siemens to go after the target market, creating a strategic roadmap of PLM and other products that can accelerate Siemens in those industries.

I spent a lot of time at the event with Bert Geisler, lead of the marine effort. Mr. Geisler offered me a glimpse into the offering for civilian and military ships — from small and specialized to very large. Siemens has been active in the marine industry for 125 years, selling propulsion, power, shipboard automation, water handling and waste heat recovery systems — and now, PLM software. Siemens PLM brings a lot to the party, from CAD to Tecnomatix (creating a “Digital Shipyard”) to Teamcenter for shipbuilding business and product management. I was not aware before the event how advanced NX’s ship structural design capabilities are. Designed for global military shipbuilding programs, it now offers a full structural design capability, from functional logic for the steel to automated detailed design, penetration lists and weld handling. I didn’t get a chance to talk with a user but Mr. Geisler’s list of features is impressive.

For the first time, shipbuilding was all over the program at an analyst event. It was mentioned in every executive presentation, and there was even a customer presentation to hammer home Siemens’ presence in the market. Kristin Fletcher of General Dynamics Electric Boat spoke about EB’s selection of the Siemens PLM product suite for a next-generation “Integrated Product Development Platform”, a critical component of EB’s intention to speed production and lower the cost of submarines in the Virginia and Ohio replacement class submarine programs. EB’s plans are ambitious: to cut the cost per sub from $2.5 billion to $2 billion while reducing the time to build each sub from 6 years to 5 years to even less. Ms. Fletcher said that Siemens’ solutions enable EB to efficiently manage data through the life cycle of the ship — which can be 40 t0 80 years. [She specifically highlighted Mr. Grindstaff’s motto of “leave no data behind” as  an important “philosophical alignment” with EB that led to the selection of Siemens PLM as the main product development vendor.]

There’s lots more to write about, but that’s it for today. If you can, watch The Helping Hand, a terrific video about how Rose-Hulman students used Solid Edge to help a little boy named Daniel live a more normal life. Also, try to catch any presentation given by Ricardo Espinosa, R&D Engineering Services manager at Kimball International, about why they use Solid Edge and Synchronous Technology in their furniture design business (this case is good, but his presentation was great).

One last thing: NASA’s Doug McCuistion was a keynote speaker at the event, and spoke eloquently about the design challenges of getting the Curiosity Science Lab to Mars. He mentioned that Curiosity is on Twitter; you really need to follow @MarsCuriosity for the latest news and photos. Just before I sat down to write this, @MarsCuriosity tweeted “I did a science! 1st contact science on rock target Jake. Here’s an action shot“. Not anthropomorphizing or anything — but how cute is that?! From Mars. “I did a science”. LOL.