For the European industry in particular, I am very pleased that these two great companies are now cooperating with the aim of being able to offer end-to-end digitization solutions. This is one of the most interesting and best things that could happen.
For customers, this can be unique. For this to happen, however, the methodical, technical integration must be right. That's why I would like to explain the topic here from this perspective.
The question is how the connection between a PLM system and ERP system will and should be realized in the future.
This question must be answered both at the information object level and at the structure level. At the information object level, the question arises as to which object type is held where and who has the master for it and when. In concrete terms, this concerns the types CAx document and material. At the structure level, the question arises as to which of the central structures CAD-BOM, EBOM or MBOM are synchronized and where the respective master is located. Omitting topics such as configuration and the need for a uniform configuration engine, routing, assembly instructions, NC program supply, the digital twins as delivered and as maintained, and service bom, there are essentially two integration scenarios.
The PLM system acts as a management system for document data storage and for lifecycling the data from the authoring systems. Material creation and maturity development of the material then take place in the ERP. In this scenario, creating and holding the EBOM in PLM would be possible in the early phase of development.
As scenario I, whereby additional EBOMs and all plant-specific MBOMs are created in PLM and fully synchronized from there into ERP. The structure and maturity development of the material takes place in PLM, the maintenance of the attribution is then possible at any time due to the full synchronicity between the systems in both systems.
Scenario I is what can be implemented well today between ERP and most PLM systems. However, PLM would not act as PLM, but merely as a PDM/TDM system. In reality, the PLM layer would then be in ERP and would be based on the data model and functions of SAP ERP that exist today.
However, scenario I has the decisive disadvantage that precisely the added value that is to be achieved through cooperation cannot be achieved. This is due to the fact that PLM in this scenario would be disconnected from the downstream changes in the plants and the idea of the digital thread or the feedback loop approach would not work.
In my view, Scenario II is the option that should definitely be chosen. However, it is also the ideal case in terms of technical implementation in the PLM systems.
As already mentioned, the underlying problem here is that all of today's PLM systems, which are descended from PDM systems, cannot handle material very well. I know, some of our readers will object that PLM systems very well have the object type Part or Material and thus know material. However, those who are more deeply involved in the matter know that there are a number of question marks at this point, which I do not want to explain further here.
The real hurdle is the lack of ability of most PLM systems today to map plant views of the material, plant BOMs and BOM usages. An ERP that maps different plants can do this, of course.
It is possible to build up something comparable in PLM systems with on-board resources during an implementation, but then you have to live with quite painful restrictions. Mostly, the revision mechanism is used for this at the party level. However, this contradicts the actual application intention of this mechanism and therefore often has a very disruptive effect on the implementation. As a result, there is always the danger that the heavily customized data model will fly apart in the event of minor extensions to the PLM and that the gate to hell will open, so to speak.
In order to provide a real remedy here in the future, it will be necessary to build fundamental changes deep into the data models of the PLM systems so that true persistable plant views can be mapped there as well.
From my perspective, this is a homework for all PLM vendors on the market. I think the PLM vendor that solves it first and thus achieves full synchronicity of EBOM and the MBOM's between PLM and ERP creates an excellent market position for itself.
If, in addition, this provider succeeds in making customers understand the need for and the added value of this, it has a great chance of achieving resounding market success.
If Siemens were to tackle this in this depth together with SAP, I would be very excited. That would be a major step, and probably the decisive one, in the direction of digitization.