Streamlines Design-Data Exchange Using Standards Based on Service-Oriented Architecture and Technology from PROSTEP and IBM
MAGNA STEYR, the world's leading, brand-independent engineering and manufacturing partner to automakers, today announced the creation of dynamic new processes for the exchange of automotive design information between customers and suppliers worldwide. The processes, which are based on an innovative mix of three important industry standards and the use of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and technology from PROSTEP and IBM, have already demonstrated their abilities to lower costs, improve productivity and enhance MAGNA STEYR's marketplace competitiveness.
MAGNA STEYR is a subsidiary of MAGNA International, the world's most diversified automotive supplier and the largest manufacturer of complete vehicles for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Until the development of the new processes, MAGNA STEYR's exchange of car- and part-design information between OEMs and suppliers had been increasingly frustrated by the use of individual and proprietary data formats by each OEM. As a result, MAGNA STEYR's data-exchange methodologies had to be tailored for each client, leading to multiple implementations. The plurality of data formats and applications involved in such exchanges also prevented the automation of data-exchange processes, forcing the use of error-prone manual practices and resulting in costly losses in productivity.
"We had a huge challenge, since working with the world's leading automakers means we must rely upon vast amounts of data that historically has been exchanged using proprietary interfaces and partly manual processes," said Helmut Ritter, Chief Engineer, Information Management Engineering at MAGNA STEYR. "The dramatic reduction in development times throughout the automotive industry now makes it essential for the development partner to connect quickly and efficiently to any needed PLM system landscape. Therefore, we saw the critical importance of creating new systems that could surmount our partners' uses of different data formats and unique data-access interfaces."
The new solution pioneered by MAGNA STEYR in collaboration with PROSTEP and IBM is based upon the ground-breaking adoption of three important industry standards: STEP (Standard for Exchange of Product Model Data), PLM Services (Product Lifecycle Management Services) and WS-BPEL (Business Process Execution Language for Web Services).
As recognized by the International Standards Organization (ISO), STEP facilitates the critically needed exchange of design information from multiple and diverse sources. However, to define universal access interfaces to data represented in the STEP formats, MAGNA STEYR called upon interfaces recently defined by the ProSTEP iViP association, whose members include some of the world's leading automakers and software vendors. The ProSTEP iViP association played a key role in defining the PLM Services interfaces leading to a new standard now released in its version 1.0 by the Object Management Group (OMG). The PLM Services interfaces are now available in a new product called OpenPDM and offered by PROSTEP AG, a PLM integration specialist owned by German car makers and suppliers.
"The OpenPDM software provides a universal access interface to design data stored in any brand of Product Data Management (PDM) system," said Bernd Paetzold, CEO of PROSTEP. "It acts as a universal translator that transforms the many proprietary protocols currently in use around the world into a standard-based universal interface, thus enabling a direct PDM integration. This integration can support internal data exchange processes as well as OEM-supplier collaboration processes."
In addition to providing this interface, the OpenPDM product has the advantage of providing Web Services interface support. The OpenPDM software can be deployed in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and is compatible with leading business process integration software, IBM WebSphere Process Server(TM).
SOA is a way of viewing business processes as a set of linked, reusable services; it is an approach that uses open standards to make a company's business operations more efficient, effective and collaborative.
WebSphere Process Server, a core product in IBM's SOA foundation, is a single, integrated platform that combines the industry's top application server and integration capabilities, supports the latest generation of the Business Process Execution Language for Web Services, WS-BPEL. WS-BPEL, which is recognized by OASIS, is the third of the open standards involved in MAGNA STEYR's new exchange processes. Teaming with IBM, MAGNA STEYR used WebSphere to provide advanced capabilities required to construct complex business process workflows as well as to monitor their execution.
"The deployment of the OpenPDM product on the WebSphere Process Server platform delivers on the standards-based Service Oriented Architecture that IBM has advocated for so many years," said Janette Beauchamp, General Manager, IBM Automotive and Aerospace Industries. "It leverages three standards that are important to the automotive sector: STEP, PLM Services and WS-BPEL and, through collaborative innovation between MAGNA STEYR, PROSTEP and IBM, has enabled the creation of automated business-process workflows that are virtually platform independent."
MAGNA STEYR has recently tested its new innovative solution to combine these three standards. Using the OpenPDM product and the IBM WebSphere Process Server platform, MAGNA STEYR succeeded in the complete automation of design data in an exchange process with a major automaker. The project helped MAGNA STEYR to reduce exchange efforts dramatically, thereby providing higher quality data to engineering significantly earlier in the process. Results yielded lower costs and improved productivity that is translating into increased competitiveness for MAGNA STEYR, its customers and its suppliers.