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Systems integrator Cideon, a Friedhelm Loh Group company and sister to Eplan, is seeing strong growth in demand for CAD integrations using SAP-ECTR (Engineering Control Center), according to Dr. Clemens Weis (Photo Cideon), who was appointed Managing Director in November. The integration does not require a PLM/ERP interface and offers direct access to engineering data from the ERP processes. Conversely, this means that SAP makes a separate PLM system superfluous for many companies.

Cideon – with currently a good 300 employees – develops integrations to the CAD systems Inventor, AutoCAD, SOLIDWORKS, Solid Edge and Eplan on behalf of SAP SE. Others are currently not mentioned by name. At the same time, the company is a project partner for the introduction of these integrations at user companies. Demand for this has apparently given Cideon a record year with 2020 – the crisis year of the Corona pandemic – and the trend looks set to continue in 2021.

The Engineering Control Center (ECTR) has been SAP’s standard integration platform since 2015 and has reached a mature stage of development, according to Cideon. With drag-and-drop data handling, a Windows-like look and feel, and search functions like major search engines, the platform offers very easy and intuitive use, it said. Viewing or collaboration scenarios with SAP EPD (Enterprise Product Development) are supported throughout. Cideon provides project-specific integration solutions for other authoring systems – such as Factory Design Utilities or Advance Steel from Autodesk. SAP ECTR is not only the standard for on-premise installations, but also the way forward for cloud applications under SAP S/4HANA.

Companies are increasingly moving to integrate PDM and PLM solutions directly into the ETO (engineering to order) or CPQ (configure, price, quote) process, according to Cideon. In contrast to common interface-based solutions and the PDM/ERP coupling that used to be standard for this purpose, ECTR full integration now involves direct, bidirectional data synchronization between SAP and CAD. This means that ECTR basically takes over the PLM/PDM functionality directly in SAP.

Anyone who had the impression in recent years that SAP was withdrawing more and more from the PLM environment and neglecting the SAP-PLM range of products and services is surprised to discover that the opposite is now happening. SAP did not have enough CAD connectivity for the large mass of small, midsize companies in discrete manufacturing. With ECTR integration, the problem is now solved for some users of widespread CAD systems.