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prostep ivip Symposium 2023

Sustainability through digital transformation

Darmstadt, May 2023

The prostep ivip association celebrates its 30th birthday this year and the most beautiful present was the successful outcome of the prostep ivip symposium. More than 650 people came to the ICS in Stuttgart to learn more about the interaction between digital transformation and sustainability, to cultivate existing contacts or establish new ones. The accompanying exhibition was completely booked out with 41 software companies and service providers - evidence that the world's largest, vendor-independent meeting of the PLM industry has lost none of its appeal even after the pandemic. "Pioneering Digital Transformation for Sustainable Systems" was the motto of the symposium, which has long since moved beyond product lifecycle management. Four keynotes, 45 presentations and six workshops offered a wealth of information about the current trends in the field of digital product development, but also digital production. Several industry representatives reported on the challenges they face in setting up Digital Thread and Digital Twin, implementing Model-based Systems Engineering (MBSE), integrating software development into PLM processes, or using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in engineering.

One of the goals of the association's board is to provide more interaction for the audience to make the symposium more attractive especially for younger people. Among the innovations this year were four Expert Corners, where participants could discuss topics such as sustainability, artificial intelligence or software in the product with proven experts. In addition, the association presented a start-up award for the first time to young companies, which were able to introduce themselves to the audience in an "elevators pitch". The prize went with a clear majority to SPREAG GmbH, a company developing a solution for the intelligent linking of engineering data. Main sponsors of this year's symposium were automotive manufacturer VW and PLM manufacturer Siemens Digital Industries Software. In their compelling keynotes, they underscored the importance of digitization for the development of sustainable products and at the same time made it clear that the challenges cannot be mastered single-handedly. "Digitization across the product lifecycle is key to greater sustainability because 80 percent of the environmental impact is determined at the conceptual design stage," emphasized Joe Bohman, SVP Lifecycle Collaboration Software at Siemens. He used various examples to illustrate how customers could improve the carbon footprint of their products as early as at the product development stage.

Thomas Kamla, Head of Division R&D Strategy, Digitization, Compliance at VW and Abdallah Shanti, EVP & CIO IT Regions America, explained to participants the technological drivers behind the Group's comprehensive Systems Engineering initiative. The automaker is not only transforming the system architectures of its vehicles, but also its organization and process landscape in order to become faster in product development. "However, the whole thing cannot succeed without the help of our suppliers and software partners," Shanti said. "That's why we're here today."

Systems engineering is one of the "never ending stories" at the symposium. There were a number of presentations on this topic this year as well. Speakers from Mercedes-Benz and BHC, for example, explained to participants how far implementation has progressed in the organization and how the company measures the maturity of systems engineering. A representative of Daimler Truck reported about the benefits the commercial vehicle manufacturer expects from a function-oriented and system-supported development process. Also presented at the symposium was a study on SysML-based collaboration in cross-enterprise value networks, which found that the exchange of system models remains a major hurdle in MBSE. 

Some progress has been made in creating common usable data spaces for the automotive industry. In the presentations on Catena-X, for example, a semantic layer was introduced by which data to be shared can be made available in a form that is understandable to all, also allowing the data to be easily retrieved. Standardized data models that specify format and content for a particular use case also ensure that data owners retain sovereignty over their data.

For many years, Industry 4.0 and digital production have been set topics on the agenda of the symposium. This year, representatives from Läpple and ASCon, for example, gave an interesting presentation on AI-based optimization of production lines. As a result, the automaker has not only halved the scrap rate, but also significantly reduced maintenance requirements.

By tradition, the association's project groups give member companies an overview of their work progress at the symposium. Among others, the ICF (Integrated Collaboration Framework) project group presented its findings, which were included in the recommendations available to members on the association's homepage. In the future, the new CDT (Collaborative Digital Twin) project group will continue the work of the ICF project group.

During the festive evening event, the board of the association appointed Dr. Andreas Burkhardt (Küster) as honorary member. The association thus honored his many years of active role in the project work and his contributions to the SE checklist. In addition, Jean-Yves Delaunay (Airbus) was appointed honorary member. Jean-Yves has rendered outstanding services to the association's cooperation with the American PDES Inc. and the AFNeT Association in international standardization projects. Another highlight of the evening event was the presentation of the Scientific Awards to young scientists. The prize for the best master's thesis went to Niklas Hildebrandt, whose work searched for ways to produce parts and tasks lists more quickly. A Scientific Award for the best doctoral thesis was not presented this year. In return, two prizewinners should be selected next year. 

When and where the symposium will take place next year has not yet been decided. What is certain, however, is that PLM manufacturer PTC will be one of the two main sponsors and that the topic of sustainability will once again be high on the agenda.