GE’s Immelt says U.S. economy needs industrial renewal

We just read an article quoting GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt, who said on Friday, 26 June, that the United States needs to refocus its economy on manufacturing and exporting if it wishes to recover from a brutal recession. He went on to say “The world’s largest economy can no longer count on consumer spending to drive demand, nor can it rely on Wall Street financial wizardry if it wants its population to continue to enjoy a high standard of living. Our competitive edge has slipped away and this has hit the middle class hard.” He goes on to state that “manufacturing should represent about 20 percent of employment.” Which is about 10 percent now. Immelt agrees with what has been obvious to many of us in the CAD industry for years – that many U.S. companies have turned too many core technological procedures over to outside contractors and foreign operations.

The United States needs to increase its reliance on manufacturing and reduce its reliance on financial services and consumer spending to drive economic growth. GE shares have lost 58 percent of their value over the past year, largely the result of falling profit at its GE Capital finance unit [thus too heavy a reliance on its financial sector].

PTC’s new Windchill RequirementsLink application looks very promising

During the PTC/USER meeting in Florida, week before last, PTC announced a new Windchill application – Windchill RequirementsLink.

As one of my key interests is Systems Engineering, and the press info was a bit sketchy, I had a follow on interview with Michael Distler, Director, PTC Windchill Solutions Marketing.

Basically, this application uses a document or input to the requirements, typically a Word doc. A user interacts with the application to “slice up” the document into individual requirements. Each requirement become a separate requirement and then can be “connected to” the part, assembly, or BOM which acts in fulfilling that requirement, almost seeming like a requirements BOM. Interestingly, additional data can be input that provides verification specifications also.

Reports generated from RequirementsLink allow users to check for traceability (which parts or assemblies are related to a requirement), for satisfaction of that requirement and whether any related verification tests have been performed and approved.

My reaction: This is a terrific capability for all engineers, one that is sorely needed by designers, managers, and quality personnel for sharing and collaborating on how requirements are met. Similar capabilities are also available with Siemens PLM Teamcenter and Dassault Systemes SmarTeam (soon to be part of Enovia). RequirementsLink provides a free viewer; the authoring version costs about $2000 per named user. PDMLink is a prerequisite.

None of the mentioned requirements software are yet technologically advanced enough to actually connect requirements to specification driven design. Nor can any actually examine the connected part automatically to determine whether the requirement has been satisfied. This may be a distant goal for future CAD systems.


Teamcenter to operate within IBM’s PDIF (Product Development Integration Framework)

June 18, 2009: Lately we have been reviewing Windchill ProductPoint, a terrific solution based on SharePoint for small users. This announcement focuses on the other end – LARGE customers. We find this particularly interesting because it’s the first deployment on PDIF of a tightly integrated PLM application.

What makes PDIF so interesting? Because it’s an excellent example of IBM using its prowess in services, global clout, and middleware (software enablers) to aim at solutions for large, complex issues, one of which is integrating the multitude of engineering and other disciplines involved in bringing out new products.

IBM’s PDIF has been in the works for several years and under many executives. It finally looks like the technologies to accomplish this have finally enabled their vision to be able to be realized.

As for today’s announcement, Siemens PLM Software announced that it will use IBM’s Product Development Integration Framework (PDIF) as a development platform and integration environment, for a soon to be delivered ready-to-use solutions built on its Teamcenter PLM software portfolio and integrating tightly with IBM WebSphere and Information Management (DB2). PDIF also enables a richer integration between Siemens Teamcenter and Rational Software’s software development platform.

“Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter is the industry’s first PDIF-ready platform to deliver tightly integrated IBM middleware offerings that reduce PLM software acquisition and lifecycle costs,” said Michael Wheeler, vice president, IBM PLM and Supply Chain Solutions. “By using a flexible software environment, companies have a framework for marrying key PLM business processes to technology initiatives that offer a structured approach to managing the life of a product,” added Wheeler.

On the call today, Chuck Grindstaff, Siemens PLM EVP and Wheeler discussed the implications to potential customers. Wheeler extolled the virtues of Teamcenter working on their “blue stack”, adapting their SOA solution to PDIF, and altering Teamcenter so it now uses DB2. Grindstaff, in turn, was particularly complimentary of IBM’s DB2, Tivoli for secure controls and backups, and the overall performance. All they would say on pricing is that that the combination looks to be a good value for customers. Wow, when they pack on all the IBM middleware and TC I expect it may be a good value if you can get a lot of users on each system!