By Pia Banasch
As you may already know, Cideon develops and implements integration solutions between market-leading MCAD and ECAD systems, as well as the SAP PLM system. But what is behind it? With the SAP Engineering Control Center (ECTR) Interfaces you can “uniformly integrate all types of authoring tools into SAP PLM and thereby create a central repository for locally created product data” Reno Staschinski, Managing Director at Cideon, says. In general, the SAP Engineering Control Center Interface is an integration platform for authoring tools into the SAP PLM system.
This means in detail that users from every company division – from development to manufacturing, sales and marketing and even service – can quickly and dependably access structured, logically related data that is consistent across the entire company. In addition they have an overview of everything – including contexts, change histories and development progress.
We currently have integration solutions available for AutoCAD, Inventor, Solid Edge, SOLIDWORKS and, within the ECAD segment, for Eplan Electric P8 and AutoCAD Electrical; so we handle both worlds: mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD) and electronic computer-aided design (ECAD). This allows modules, parts and drawings, including the associated documents, to be seamlessly managed as structures within SAP PLM. The major benefits of the SAP ECTR Integration are error reduction, data availability, and new process dynamics along the product life cycle, as well as the automated and process-secure creation of bill of materials for manufacturing. Drawings and design data is directly available in SAP and links to commercial/logistical content– for instance questions from suppliers or information on manufacturing orders.
The Integration is easily made through creation of prototypes, definition of use cases, usage of agile methods for integration and draw on best-practice tools. “This isn’t a high-risk project, and the Investment quickly pays off” says Staschinski. Agile methods are all about reacting flexibly to changes when they first appear overtime. Also, if we take an iterative approach, it quickly leads to meaningful results. This step-by-step principle is one that we also recommend for future developments. Speaking about the future, the Cideon integrations have a secure future because the new SAP S/4HANA business suite supports SAP ECTR, which our solutions are based on.
Furthermore, Cideon has newly launched a SOLIDWORKS integration, with new functionalities and a completely new data model for managing SOLIDWORKS configurations and variants with SAP ECTR. The Integration will also ensure digital end-to-end processes for 2025 and beyond, for example in machine and plant engineering, medical technology and consumer products. Our customers benefit enormously from the creation of material bills. As an example, we could take the CAD model of a screw. “Nominal length, thread, spanner size, screw head diameter – numerous variants of a parts group or a component group model can be represented in a single document in a SOLIDWORKS configuration. The integration between SOLIDWORKS and SAP ECTR takes this variance into account and automatically derives multilevel SAP bill of materials” Rolf Lisse, Head of Development at Cideon.
A more fundamental point would be what defines the difference between a direct integration of the CAD systems to SAP PLM, or an external interface solution? The benefit of a direct integration is, for example, the media break. The quality risk for data transmission and the wait times increase, not to mention what is sometimes complex interface maintenance between decentralized systems. Working with true integration means having physically identical information; a “single source of truth”. This undoubtedly is the strongest argument in terms of data consistency and continuity.
Also, interfaces are de facto obsolete. The division of labor in IT, as in other departments, must be organized as compared to modern processes, as interdisciplinary teamwork rather than successively in separate sequences. When many experts are working simultaneously on one and the same project using integrative processes, you need integrated systems. That’s our job.