Prostep | Newsletter

To stand still is no option for us

By Karsten Theis

It is an oft-cited piece of wisdom going back to Confucius that to stand still is to go backwards. But not all movement represents progress: It all depends on the direction. And identifying the direction is far from easy for companies in a new age characterized by a global lack of certainty. The difficulties facing the management of companies are often described with the acronym VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). And agility is the key to mastering these difficulties.

There are plenty of examples of companies that failed to heed the signs of the times and have as a result either lost their supremacy or even disappeared from the market completely. Success often leads to sluggishness. At PROSTEP, we have learned that we constantly have to reinvent ourselves if we are to remain successful. Without neglecting our existing solutions and services, we have continuously updated our service portfolio and will probably have to do so even more frequently in the future, as digital transformation is inexorably piling on the pressure to change. And we, too, must respond with even greater agility.

Some 80 percent of our current portfolio of services has been built from scratch over the past ten years, and the process has not always been entirely smooth. Developing new services such as PLM strategy consulting and launching them on the market takes time, especially if they are aimed at new customers. We have now also made a name for ourselves as a competent PLM think tank in the fields of mechanical and plant engineering and have been able to acquire big-name customers such as Trumpf and Festo for our consulting services. We can and intend to build on these successes.

In software development projects for major customers in the automotive industry, we now take on different and more demanding tasks than we did a few years ago. We use agile software development methods to support Daimler and others as they restructure their PLM landscapes. These methods enable a fast and flexible response to new requirements. The acquisition of our new subsidiary, BHC, means that we are expanding our range of services to include PLM integration of E/E (electrics/electronics) and software development. Here too, we now offer the full range of services from strategy consulting, through the design of concepts and architectures and right up to the implementation of the technical solution.

In order to be able to react swiftly to the constantly changing requirements, we have to be right at the forefront of new developments and fully attuned to our customer’s needs. Our close collaboration with the prostep ivip Association and our active participation in standardization bodies such as the ASAM (Association for Standardization of Automation and Measuring Systems) help us to understand the challenges companies face and how we can help them to respond. We are involved in numerous sponsored projects on relevant topics that will shape the future, and these give us important impetuses for the further development of our range of solutions. For example, as part of the recently launched ProProS project, we are working together with the Lürssen shipyard group and RWTH University in Aachen to develop a digital twin for proactive production control in shipbuilding.

Research and development provide us with an important source of new ideas for products and services. This is why our colleague Martin Holland, as member of PROSTEP's executive board, takes explicit responsibility for R&D and ensuring technology transfer to our company when research findings are available. This clear commitment did not only lead to our leading role in the SAMPL project, which led to the development of a blockchain-capable platform for the forgery-proof exchange of 3D print data, but also to our active participation in the current sponsored projects for the digital validation of autonomous driving functions V&V and SET Level 4to5. Within the scope of these projects, we are among other things developing a demonstrator for a solution that is intended to ensure traceability during the simulation and homologation of automated and autonomous vehicles.

For us, the sponsored projects represent a massive investment in the development and expansion of our expertise in areas that we consider essential for our future business development. They also ensure that PROSTEP is perceived by the market as a competent partner for the issues that arise in the context of digitalization. We are also investing in the further development of our existing range of solutions, for example by making it possible to use our proven PLM integration platform OpenPDM in hybrid cloud scenarios. To stand still is no option for us, because the digital transformation of industry demands new answers. And we want to continue to keep abreast of these changing demands in future.