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PROSTEP TECHDAY offered a diverse program

By Peter Pfalzgraf

Online conferences can be rather tedious affairs. PROSTEP proved that it doesn't have to be that way with its PROSTEP TECHDAY. The professionally moderated online sessions with short presentations about key new products and interesting presentations by customers offered participants a diverse and entertaining program. "The quality was almost as good as on TV," said one of the viewers.

With almost 150 participants, this year's PROSTEP TECHDAY was better "attended" than ever before. The response was extremely positive. Many of those participating congratulated us via e-mail on the "super event", the great format, the professional support provided by TV and event host Julia Bauer and the informative and professional presentations by the speakers.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's customary meeting of the PROSTEP community took place on screen, to some extent like a TV series with three episodes and different protagonists. Each session kicked off with a brief review of what has been achieved since the previous TECHDAY and how PROSTEP is positioning itself as a partner for the digital transformation. There is no way around the cloud. According to Gartner, 75 percent of companies are navigating their way to the cloud, which is why we, too, have made our software solutions cloud-ready.

In cooperation with the DARZ data center in Darmstadt, we are making our OpenDXM GlobalX data exchange platform available as a SaaS model – an offering that is already in productive use at customers like OSRAM Continental and Valeo Siemens. The cloud offering is soon to be expanded to include additional services such as the data conversion service OpenDESC.com. We also have plans to offer PLM integration to an increasing extent as a service based on our cloud-capable OpenPDM product suite. To facilitate the deployment of applications in different cloud infrastructures, the company is working intensively on integrating technologies like Docker, Kubernetes and OpenShift, said Udo Hering, head of Product Management.

Getting to grips with topics of the future is of strategic importance to PROSTEP, which is why we participate in numerous research projects. They play a key role in the context of developing new software products such as the OpenCLM traceability solution, which product manager Dr. Fabrice Mogo Nem presented to a wider audience for the first time at PROSTEP TECHDAY. As Dr. Mogo Nem pointed out, it is not merely another PDM/PLM system but a layer that makes the relationships between the information distributed across different data silos and domains transparent, thus reducing the amount of time and effort required to find information and ensure requirements regarding traceability are being met. OpenCLM will be available from July next year but can already be put to the test in a proof of concept.

Client for CAD data processing

OpenDXM GlobalX was the protagonist in the first session. In the current version 9.2, PROSTEP has expanded the new web interface to enable administrators to also perform all their essential tasks on the web, as Product Manager Daniel Wiegand explained. A new and powerful CAD client is now available to companies that want to use the data exchange platform without PDM/PLM integration. It analyzes the components stored in a directory and independently puts together the assemblies that are to be sent. The client also offers a convenient 3D preview function that allows the assemblies to be viewed prior to being sent. The OpenDXM Broker can be used to automate processes like data conversion.

We have expanded the range of PDM integrations offered to include a new plug-in for the 3D dashboard that is part of Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The plug-in makes it possible for multiple data sets to be sent in a single operation. The roadmap for the next version of OpenDXM GlobalX includes not only improving security functions using two-factor authentication but also another plug-in for the Teamcenter Active Workspace client.

Alexander Meier from the automotive supplier HBPO used the ECTR plug-in as an example to illustrate how quickly OpenDXM GlobalX can be integrated into the SAP landscape and how easy the solution is to use. HBPO develops and manufactures high-quality front-end modules, cockpits and center consoles for the automotive industry. Users at the company can not only create send jobs in their familiar interface but also receive feedback in SAP ECTR as to whether the job has been successfully transferred to the data exchange platform and the data delivered to the recipient.

Function for hollowing assemblies

TECHDAY's second session focused on the automated provision of product data from PLM and ERP systems to downstream processes in manufacturing, assembly and service. Product Manager Timo Trautmann explained the technological transformation of PDF Generator 3D, which has become a powerful platform for converting 2D and 3D data into a wide variety of formats, to participants. 

It not only allows 3D PDF documents to be created automatically but also makes it possible to publish 2D and 3D data in HTML5 format so that it can be displayed in a normal web browser. An agile release process ensures that customers are always able to use the latest CAD formats as input.

The session also provided participants with a brief overview of the standardization activities being conducted by the 3D PDF Consortium, of which PROSTEP is a member. Significant progress has been made, particularly with regard to ISO standardization of the PDF/ A-4e format as a standard for the long-term archiving of engineering data. The committee is also working on new topics such as the ability to embed native STEP data in 3D PDF documents so that it can be viewed directly with Adobe Reader. As Trautmann said, our roadmap includes support for this option as from version 10.1 of PDF Generator 3D.

One of the highlights of the current version is the new "hollowing" function, which makes it possible to automatically hollow out assemblies and remove components that cannot be seen when preparing them for spare parts catalogs. As Trautmann pointed out, this provides better protection for the know-how inherent in the assemblies. But PDF Generator 3D offers more than just the ability to generate product-specific spare parts catalogs at the touch of a button. The solution also supports change reporting when releasing new data sets by displaying changes made to the geometry or associated PMI information, e.g. tolerance specifications.

The presentation by André Hieke from Siemens Large Drives Applications (LDA) demonstrated just how versatile PDF Generator 3D is. The manufacturer of customized high-voltage motors and converters initially used our software to automate the creation of offer documents in the pre-sales phase. It is now also being used productively in housing manufacture. Siemens LDA thus provides both its own workers and external partners with manufacturing documents without any need for drawings. Unlike the JT technology, which was originally used for this purpose, the 3D PDF-based solution enjoys a high level of acceptance among users. It is therefore planned that it also be implemented in shaft manufacture and at other locations, as Hieke said.

OpenPDM with cloud-capable architecture

The highlight of the third session was the customer presentation given by Clifton Davies from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. The manufacturer of military aircraft uses our PLM integration platform OpenPDM in combination with Red Hat's service bus architecture Fuse to export part information, manufacturing BOMs and work schedules from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform or DELMIA to the SAP ERP system and the MES system Solumina from iBASEt. The timeframe for the integration project was very tight and was complicated by a changeover to a different version of 3DEXPERIENCE, which PROSTEP carried out in less than 24 hours, as Davies said in praise. Lockheed Martin wants to use the solution to integrate other PLM systems such as Teamcenter and enable bidirectional data exchange.

As of version 9, PROSTEP has placed the architecture of the PLM integration platform on a new technological footing to facilitate cloud deployment, as Product Manager Mirko Theiß explained. The new process engine is based on the open source software Camunda and makes the graphic modeling of integration processes possible. The connectors can be used independently of the platform and communicate with it via REST APIs. Even though the OpenPDM 8.x versions will to continue to be supported, in the future we intend to place primary focus on the cloud version and also want to develop additional connectors for integrating production planning processes, software development and application lifecycle management (ALM).

We consider our first online TECHDAY a resounding success, even though we sorely missed face-to-face contact with our customers and interested parties.

If you did not have the opportunity to participate online and would like to know more about our solutions, the three sessions are available for viewing.

You can find the records here.

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