CONTACT Elements is an excellent example of a sustainable digital platform.Peter Bilello
Energizing your digital business
This was the motto of Open World 2019. The two-day conference impressively demonstrated how companies can successfully implement their digitization strategies along the digital thread. More than 300 participants discussed about digital business models and the novelties that CONTACT Software presented for the development of smart products and services in Munich.
In addition to numerous customers, many partners from Asia, America and Europe took part. The CONTACT Global Ecosystem is growing strongly, which was impressively underlined by the Open World Expo with Bosch, Cadenas, Eurotech, Isko, Prostep, T-Systems, Zuken and numerous other partners. A special eye-catcher was provided by the TUfast racing team of the Technical University Munich: They presented one of its cars for the Formular Student Competitions.
Seize the opportunities
The public discussion about digitization is too much characterized by fears, emphasized CONTACT’s founder and Managing Director Karl Heinz Zachries at the beginning of the event. He encouraged the participants to see it as an opportunity and to explore the potentials for their organization under the motto "Yes we can". With smart products as "anchors" they are well positioned for digitization. Zachries underpinned his appeal with figures from a recent PwC study on Industry 4.0: According to the market analysis, the share of sales accounted for by digital products will increase by 22 percent until 2023 and investments in new technologies will generate additional sales of 276 billion for German companies.
Digitalization is nothing new and groundbreaking, especially in an industrial environment, said Zachries. "What is new is the consistent and partly even autonomous control of digital processes, which offers the industry great value creation potential”. Weidmüller Interface demonstrated this: The specialist for industrial connection technology has completely automated order processing for some customer-specific products with CIM Database PLM. Instead of hours or days, the configuration and calculation of an offer only takes seconds, explained PLM Project Manager Dr. Martin Dräxler.
Consider the use phase
With smart products, the manufacturing industry must master ever more complex tasks - especially with a view to the later use phase. CONTACT's answer are new methods and tools with which mechanical, electronic and software developers can achieve the right results faster.
Model-based systems engineering aims at close cooperation between the various engineering disciplines. Closed-loop engineering enables companies to achieve precisely tailored product improvements based on usage data. Uniformly designed, intuitively executable applications based on the CONTACT Elements Design System and agile methods underline these approaches at the operating level.
Udo Leischner, Product Manager Project Office, introduced the new Task Boards. They support agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban along iterative planning units such as sprints. The CONTACT Elements Design System provides project teams with a common interface in the browser and in the cloud in order to clearly set the tasks of a backlog in motion.
The combination of more agile with conventional planning methods in hybrid project management makes companies much more flexible. For example, important deadlines and quality gates can be planned centrally and bindingly at an early stage, while the tasks themselves are detailed locally and self-organized along iterative steps.
Task Boards are one of the most innovative developments for a long time, says Harald Kurz, who is responsible for IT in research and development at MANN + HUMMEL. At the Open World, the manager explained how the world market leader in the field of filtration helped to shape the new solution and how it is used today. "The key to the successful implementation of agile methods is the organization's mindset," he told his audience.
The new CIM Database release
Dr. Patrick Müller reflected the evolution of PLM into a technology for the digital enterprise. The Product Manager used numerous examples to illustrate how the new CIM Database release 11.4 makes the development of mechatronic products more consistent.
These include ALM integration based on the industry standard OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration) with variant and change management in the PLM system. Or EAI integration, which makes it easier to link ERP data to the Digital Twin.
CONTACT has also extended the Elements component Universal Classification by features for the compliance-relevant assessment of functional security. Users can visualize relationships between requirements and articles with a graph. The new version supports the virtual validation process using Digital Mock-Up with additional functions, such as the comparison of CAD materials and DMU features for rendering.
A lot has also happened in the field of industrialization. The xBOM Manager can now compare the development parts list not only with the production parts list, but also with other views such as the service parts list.
Best of Open World 2019
Highlights, impressions and comments from Munich
Digital Twin in practice
CONTACT provides powerful Element modules for the industrial Internet of Things, which support the product life cycle up to the operating phase and the service. Stefan Gregorzik, who is responsible for CONTACT's cross departmental IoT activities, said that Elements for IoT has a significantly higher degree of maturity than other known IoT platforms in interaction with further established components of the Elements portfolio.
Matthias Tölle, Managing Director of MIXACO, presented a practical example: The mechanical engineering company networks its industrial mixers via CONTACT's IoT platform in order to continuously monitor their condition and optimize their performance.
CONTACT's claim is a no code environment for IoT applications in which specialist departments themselves can map their data-driven processes much faster. According to Gregorzik, it is not enough to capture and visualize the data. Only the connection to the Digital Twin and open interfaces to other systems such as ERP make smart business processes possible, for example for predictive maintenance, continuous delivery and so on.
With the next version, CONTACT's universal solution for multi-CAD data management shows the consistent and comprehensive further development of CONTACT's Workspaces technology, emphasized Thomas König, Head of Product Management, at the Open World. Workspaces 4, now also based on the CONTACT Elements Design System, relieves users of routine tasks and simplifies teamwork with colleagues, partners and suppliers.
New server services now automate and accelerate complex CAD operations, such as the creation or modification of assemblies.
"With Workspaces 4.0, we do not only want to replace the existing CAD couplings. We want to put our processes based on classic coupling to the test and generate an additional benefit for our company," says Henning Schewe, Head of Engineering IT at KOSTAL.
New customer and partner portal
Based on Elements and the Elements Design System, CONTACT develops an attractive, easy-to-use portal for customers and partners with the project title ALOHA. On the one hand, it provides forums for the experience exchange, online tutorials and product information. On the other hand, customers and partners can download software, create hotline tickets and manage joint projects.
What makes ALOHA so special is the technology behind it. Instead of a conventional CMS system, the portal uses essential components of the Elements platform and supplements them with new ones, for example for fast on-boarding with different roles. In the future, the solution will be available to all Elements applications, for example to implement a customer portal as part of an IoT solution.
Elements in the Cloud
"The Web is the blueprint for business applications," explained Frank Patz-Brockmann, CONTACT's Head of Development, at the presentation of the technology roadmap. CONTACT Elements is already an "Internet Citizen", which provides all services in the browser, he emphasized. T-Systems' presentation about CIM Database in the Cloud showed where the journey is going.
With Release 16, CONTACT Elements will be cloud-ready in total, said Patz-Brockmann. This also includes further automating software deployment under the "DevOps" guideline and rolling out changes much faster and more reliably.
Consistent digital thread
According to the motto "The world's best platform to design and operate smart products", CONTACT Software positions Elements as a platform for the entire product lifecycle, which is characterized by the carefully orchestrated interaction of own technologies, services and specialized applications, leading partner solutions and open source components.
CONTACT Elements is a highly modular “Product Innovation Platform” that supports the development and operation of smart products with the help of an integrated digital thread and the resulting Digital Twins, CIMdata CEO Peter Bilello stated at the end of the event.