In 2017, Schaeffler announced that despite many years as a user of PTC software, it was moving to a company-specific “Engineering Cockpit” with Aras for the purpose of integration and consistency of data. On Jan. 25, 2022, Schaeffler and PTC now announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a strategic partnership. There is no mention of Aras and no one at Schaeffler to talk to about Aras.

Signing of the strategic alliance via video link. f.l.: Jim Heppelmann, CEO, PTC; Kevin Wrenn, Executive Vice President Products at PTC; Uwe Wagner, Member of the Board of Schaeffler AG responsible for Research and Development; Rainer Eidloth, Head of R&D Processes, Methods & Tools at Schaeffler (photo Schaeffler)

Schaeffler is not an unknown quantity in engineering. As an important supplier for the automotive industry as well as for other industries, and also as a manufacturer of precision components and bearings of various types that play an important role in connected mobility, for example, specialists in other companies often see Schaeffler as a role model for their processes and their digitalization. That is why decisions for PLM or ALM, for example, for product lifecycle management (hardware) or application lifecycle management (software), make many people sit up and take notice.

The press release states that under the new alliance, Schaeffler will “standardize on PTC solutions to implement an integrated, end-to-end IT landscape.” That means a clear move back to standard software: “Schaeffler wants to leverage PTC’s experience and robust end-to-end solutions to move from a custom engineering IT environment to the use of standard applications across the enterprise.” Obviously, then, this move is expected to simultaneously significantly extend digitalization to other areas of the company where engineering software is not used.

The integration of software system development with overall product development, i.e. ALM with PLM, is given particular weight: “The goal is to integrate software and system development solutions (Application Lifecycle Management and Model-Based Systems Engineering) throughout the company.”

Schaeffler will simultaneously and in the long term “support PTC in the further development of market-specific standard solutions to better meet the requirements of automotive and industrial companies.” That sounds like a mutually beneficial collaboration.

One would like to know more about the exact reasons for the change in strategy. But, as usual, there is nothing about this in the announcement. My impression is: It remains difficult for the manufacturing industry to find “the” solution in terms of the most suitable tools to their very complex requirements.

Standardization and modularization combined with an increase in the use of cloud services is a clear trend. But it doesn’t take the possibility of simple customization and additions off the table. You can’t have one without the other. Perhaps the renewed alliance between Schaeffler and PTC will help move beyond the previous either/or.