The challenge of IoT and its attendant big data represents a transformational inflection point for design companies—for the first time companies enabling digital models are faced with incorporating real world data and managing that data. Likewise, their customers are being thrust into the world of big data, and the major CAD companies are scrambling to give customers useful tools before their competitors do or before interlopers take over from HPC (high performance computing).
PTC has been early into the IoT. The company has built a new division from its acquisition of ThingWorx in 2013, and it has built out a service business for support and maintenance. Now, with the latest version of their product lifecycle management (PLM) product, Windchill 11, PTC says they are offering the first “smart, connected” PLM.
As PTC rolled out their latest version of Windchill, they also provided a deeper look into the technology they’ve gained from ThingWorx and talked about how they are expanding the role of PLM beyond its traditional position behind the walls of the engineering department.
Kevin Wrenn, PTC’s GM of PLM says that with ThingWorx, PTC got technology that enables them to connect data from objects and from other information systems such as ERP, MES, etc. and to create mashups. In addition, the ability to gather relevant information is backwards compatible with earlier versions of Windchill so information can be gathered from versions back to 10.1.40 or later. For Windchill 11 PTC has created role based apps that can feed essential information to the people who need it, and nothing more. Wrenn said customers tell him that they’ve spent years inputting information into PLM systems, and the only people who use that information are the people who put the information into the system in the first place. The idea of this version is to give people a tool that’s easy enough to use and is relevant for users outside engineering and design processes.