Integrating PLM, ERP, MES behind the scenes

The wall is coming down between IT and manufacturing, and the result is more and better help from people who know both sides. Siemens IT Solutions & Services talks trends from the IT perspective.


With so much going on in shopfloor to top floor integration and product lifecycle management ( PLM ) software stretching down to interact with automation layer systems, it’s not a surprise that manufacturing companies are being courted by traditional IT services firms. The wall is coming down between IT and manufacturing, and the result is more and better help from people who know both sides.

Siemens, for example, is more than just its automation division. Siemens IT Solutions & Services is a $6.5 billion high-tech services company with 43,000 employees worldwide. And the impact of PLM on the IT business overall is “very significant,” according to managing director Scott McGurl.

Formed in 1995 to implement SAP across 200 internal IT organizations, Siemens IT Solutions & Services is now a full-blown horizontal services firm with about 4,300 employees at work in the U.S. McGurl spoke to Control Engineering in early January 2008 to discuss how IT services, and SAP applications at the enterprise level, are being integrated with manufacturing execution systems (MES).

“Siemens is a technology company. We [Siemens IT Solutions & Services] are a separate independent business unit with a strategic priority to integrate technologies from other Siemens technology departments,” McGurl explained. “I will help organizations with other MES solutions outside the scope of [Siemens’] Simatic. We go from ERP [enterprise resource planning] to shopfloor level. SAP is our focus; we don’t do any other enterprise-level systems.”

Manufacturing companies make up 38% of McGurl’s customers overall, but the company also has teams covering utilities, airports, medical facilities and other vertical markets. Within manufacturing, Siemens IT Solutions & Services teams are divided into four areas of expertise: automotive, chemicals/pharmaceuticals, general discrete industries, and general process industries.

“In the process environment, integration between shop floor and top floor is there,” McGurl said. “In discrete industries, it’s newer, but I’ve found a huge swell in demand.” Tooling systems and machines had disparate systems, but those standards are available now, he added: “The technologies are there to support integration.”

What McGurl calls “standard software”— in the form of SAP modules, MES modules and other tools—is being combined to cover a wide range of shop floor critical functions Using a best-practice automotive process as an example, he illustrated a range of functions and what solution elements were available for each (see illustration).

In general, the impact of PLM on the business overall has been “very significant,” McGurl said. “As the process market becomes more interested in the PLM market, we’ll be in the right place,” he added. “There’s not an integrated PLM, ERP, MES solution architecture out there now.” And that’s where the fact that his company is so closely aligned with Siemens technology divisions is going to benefit customers, he said.

“We have done integration between SAP and Simatic; there’s a strong solution footprint around that that we’ve implemented at other organizations,” McGurl said. And, since his corporate parent’s acquisition of UGS, “we are integrating PLM with MES.”

“I’m down in Orlando this week at Siemens PLM conference,” he said. “There’s active work going on, in excess of more than 100 people involved, and we’re linking it within ERP. We’re starting with discrete manufacturing and moving then into process manufacturing.”

--Renee Robbins, Control Engineering News Desk


No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Big plans for small nuclear reactors: Simpler, safer control designs; Smarter manufacturing; Industrial cloud; Mobile HMI; Controls convergence
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.