Since 2000, Siemens has been in active investment partnerships and/or acquisitions with more than 20 companies—all of which underpin the company’s digitalization strategy to support industry’s move toward the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0. At its annual Siemens Industry Analyst Conference held in Boston this week, the company unveiled two additional investments in this area.
The higher profile investment came via an expansion of Siemens' existing joint investment with Bentley Systems, a supplier of design, construction and infrastructure operations software. Siemens first invested 50 million euros in a partnership initiative with Bentley in 2016. A new investment round worth an additional 50 million euros gives Siemens a greater than 9 percent share of Bentley stock ownership.
During the conference in Boston, Dr. Jan Mrosik, CEO of the Siemens' Digital Factory Division, said the company is deepening its relationship with Bentley in a strategic alliance across all businesses. "[Since 2016] we have been working with them on plant data management; what’s been missing [in this alliance] is enterprise data management, and that's what we’re focusing on now by combining our technologies to create a unique, homogenous environment to encompass large projects in a holistic way,” Mrosik said.
Explaining the company’s vision of this integration of technologies, he added that Siemens wants a holistic approach to digitalization for process and discrete customers with an open, standards-based approach to integration with third-party technologies. To do this, Teamcenter will serve as the center, so that everyone has access to the latest data. Teamcenter data will be used to create digital twins across the mechanics, electronics and software aspects of a product and its production processes. Analytic insights across all these steps will be provided by Mindsphere, Siemens’ cloud-based IoT operating system.
The lower-profile but larger investment highlighted at the Boston Conference involved Siemens' acquisition of Mendix, a supplier of cloud-native, low-code application development software. Mendix technology will be used to ease end-user IIoT app development. Siemens will pay 600 million euros in cash to acquire the company.
Tony Hemmelgarn, president and CEO of Siemens PLM, said that Mendix will help his company break down the barriers for enterprises to more easily build IIoT apps, adding that Mendix technology enables the creation of apps 10 times faster than other app development technologies and requires 70 percent less resources. The capabilities Siemens gains through its Mendix acquisition will help it provide customers with the tools to pursue new business models. “You don't have to be a software developer to build apps with Mendix," said Hemmelgarn, who added that the knowledge of workers on the plant floor can be applied directly to app development.
Employing more than 400 people, Mendix was founded in 2005 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and is headquartered in Boston. According to the acquisition announcement, “Mendix will retain its distinct brand and culture and continue serving [its] customers. Siemens will continue to invest in Mendix's independent product roadmap. Mendix will be part of the software business of Siemens' Digital Factory Division, with the Mendix platform also deployed across other Siemens divisions.”