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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

PTC’s Vision of Mobile PLM Apps

March 7th, 2012 by Jeff Rowe

In early February I received some interesting information from PTC touting its plans for making some of its PLM offerings available to mobile users. At that time, PTC said:

“Mobility and mobile applications have a way of impinging on our daily lives – for better or worse – more so today than ever before. Whether it is keeping a global project moving during your time zone’s “off hours,” being able to access all the relevant data and product code while out in the field, or accessing product data on your mobile phone, there is just no denying the presence and impact of mobility.

In fact, according to IDC research, by 2014, 46% of employees will be mobile only. Which means that by 2014, vendors need to be able to supply reliable, scalable, affordable mobile applications that can support 46% demand and usage. Couple this with a workforce of young professionals who want, expect and need a modern, mobile infrastructure.

And then you can start to imagine these apps:

  • Mobile PLM for the engineer
  • Mobile PLM for the administrator
  • Mobile PLM for the service technician
  • Mobile Social Product Development
  • CAD creation mobile sketching tools

Interesting, but pretty broad strokes with not too much new or compelling, but apps for several of the scenarios above are in the works. For more detail on PTC’s mobility plans and PTC’s vision for mobile PLM and CAD apps, I arranged to speak with David Blair, VP of Product Management.

PTC’s social product development strategy (based on Web 2.0), including mobile apps and mobility are major parts of its ongoing new product trends.

PTC addressed social computing with Windchill SocialLink that can improve product development team interaction throughout the product development lifecycle. Its key advantage is that product data can be accessed and associated to communities and collaborative activities. Users can engage one another within the Windchill environment to ask questions, share information, solve problems, and stay in touch with team members.

Once a virtual team is assembled, real-time conferencing makes it possible to begin work on solving a problem at hand. As each member of the virtual team makes comments or adds information, the response appears in Windchill SocialLink.

Windchill SocialLink provides social computing capabilities such as microblogging, discussion forums and real-time activity feeds with connectivity to the product data in Windchill.

Although available on PCs, the next logical step was to make it available on mobile platforms. With the release of Windchill 10.1, it will be available as a mobile app for Apple’s iOS for iPad. In its first iteration as an iOS app, users will be able to search on and visualize product data (as 3D viewables), as well as access metadata, tasks and assignments. The first version is also supposed to allow users to explode an assembly by shaking the iPad. In other words, “shake to break.”

In the future, the plan is to support more platforms, such as Android (next release), enable more capabilities, and support more Windchill modules. Future releases will also support more use cases beyond end users to include others, such as administrators who want to check on Windchill servers and other more sophisticated tasks.

In the more distant future, look for Creo to be added to the mobile app mix, first as a viewer, and then as an authoring tool — probably with sketching first. Also look for an Arbortext app in the future for handling and serving up mobile service information.

Pricing is still being worked out, but the mobile apps will be licensed on the server side, although apps for viewing only will be free downloads.

Again, not a whole lot of detail yet, but PTC is definitely thinking along mobility lines. However, don’t take that to mean that the company is embracing so-called cloud technologies, because it’s not. There are some interesting possibilities here, though, and we’ll stay on top of them and evaluate them as they become available for review.

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