Most large PLM companies deal with three groups of people that are necessary for survival – employees, customers, and investors. Every company regards and treats the three groups differently, but most of the successful ones acknowledge the importance of all three – although some companies are better at it than others and some companies regard one or more of the groups as necessary evils.
Each of the groups gets the information it needs to make decisions from different sources, such as press releases, news feeds, whitepapers, eBooks, financial reports, and so on. Financial reports for tech companies are especially interesting not only because of what they say, but what they might imply. And, while some companies try to report “alternative facts,” financial figures don’t lie, and some things are obvious, but there are always numbers subject to speculative interpretation.
That brings me to PTC’s most recent financial report that was made public last week. There were some surprises, some good, some not so good, but in many ways reinforced and reflected the direction of the company, namely IoT. Admittedly, IoT was not the biggest source of revenue for PTC, but it’t clear that it is increasingly important to the health and wealth of the company.
I read a lot of books, mostly non-fiction and technical in both hardcopy and digital formats. Although I get through most of them, there are some I don’t even try to finish, and a few become favorites that I keep for future reading and reference. I recently read a book entitled Re-Use Your CAD: The ModelCHECK Handbook by Rosemary Astheimer. When I saw Handbook in the title, I thought it would be another dry reference book, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more than that — it’s a good learning and reference resource.
The book’s author, Rosemary L. Astheimer, is an application engineer for Action Engineering, as well as a Continuing Lecturer for the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. She received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and her Masters of Software Engineering from Brandeis University. Before joining the faculty in 2014, Ms. Astheimer spent over 15 years working in the CAD software industry. She began her career in software support, transitioned into a pre-sales application engineer focusing on business development of new products and was most recently a product manager.
What a difference a few days make. Last week I was in Denver teaching math to middle schoolers and this week I was in Boston with about 4,000 others attending PTC’s LiveWorx 16. The spotlight at the conference shone on the Internet of Things (IoT) and PTC’s commitment to it.
So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) thing is still just a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 16 in Boston this week, IoT is becoming an increasingly big part of the future – not only for PTC, but for all of us.
Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over the past couple might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (~2,300 attendees); LiveWorx 16 (~4,000 attendees). Attendance numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT. (more…)
About a month ago I spent a few days in Boston at PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 event. It was an eye opener for me and a brief look into the future of PTC with its growing emphasis and dependence on the Internet of Things (IoT).
Beyond the technologies and business strategies presented, what struck me was the relatively young crowd attending with relatively young PTC PR people pushing the IoT platform. Sold out with over 2,300 attendees (up from ~350 in 2014), the draw was similar or maybe more than this year’s PTC Live Global user event. Although Creo and Windchill were certainly present at LiveWorx, they took a back seat to IoT offerings, such as ThingWorx, Axeda, and others.
So what does IoT really mean? I don’t know either because it’s evolving so rapidly and all participating vendors define it so that it accommodates what they offer best. In other words, until standards are established, the definition continues to evolve. I will admit, however, that PTC currently has a leg up on virtually all of the competition for IoT in its traditional design, engineering, and manufacturing space.
A standard definition is in the works, however, and IoT generally refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999, although the concept has been discussed since 1991, so it’s not exactly brand new.
According to PTC, the Internet of Things has the potential to create trillions of dollars of new economic value in the coming decade. To capture this value, manufacturers will rely on new applications that enable the creation of smart, connected products, thus PTC’s interest and commitment, as shown in the brief video below.
PTC’s Vision for Smart, Connected Products (more…)
So, you think that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a fad? Based on my experience at PTC’s LiveWorx 2015 in Boston this week, IoT is a big part of the future, not only for PTC, but for all of us.
Still not convinced? Just the attendance figures alone from this year over last might help convince you – LiveWorx 2014 (~350 attendees); LiveWorx 2015 (>2,300 attendees). Numbers don’t lie and that shows the growing interest in IoT.
Because of the amount of material covered in just a couple of days, and the major implications surrounding IoT and PTC, I’ll be writing about some the major (and some minor) technology and business announcements, as well as how this all fits together and might shape PTC’s strategy going forward, including:
The benefits and advantages of IoT from PTC’s perspective
Problematic IoT concerns that persist, including security and safety
PTC’s partnership with ServiceMax for connected field service management
PTC’s ThingWorx Converge as an IoT integration hub
The ColdLight acquisition for handling big data and predictive analytics
The ThingWorx Marketplace that has apps and related tools for IoT
For many years, all of the major CAD vendors have been stressing the importance of managing the design and manufacturing data created using their software. Surprisingly though, still relatively few design and manufacturing companies, especially SMBs, have a formal PDM system of any type in place beyond Windows Explorer or Excel. Some of the reasons we hear for PDM not being employed include the perceptions (and experiences) that PDM is time consuming and expensive to implement.
While most SMBs have made the transition from 2D to 3D, many are finally exploring how to manage the mountains of CAD and associated product development and project data. These companies are seeking solutions that are more capable and scalable than just files, folders, Excel spreadsheets, and Windows Explorer.
Along with about 1,900 attendees, we just returned this week from the 2013 edition of the PTC Live Global conference and exhibition in Anaheim, CA. We saw and heard several interesting things from PTC employees, partners, and customers.
Let’s start off on Day 1. After a short introduction, PTC’s president and CEO, Jim Heppelmann took the stage with the song “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath blasting. What’s that about? The early focus of his address was the focus of not only PTC, but just about every other software vendor – mobility.
This dramatic change of tune comes just a couple of years after Heppelmann derided the notion of software as a service and cloud computing as nothing more than “vapor.” Today, mobility to PTC, according to Heppelmann, consists of products being delivered as a service, with the line blurred between product and service.
He then introduced the concept of reverse innovation to accommodate different unique requirements for different customers. Interesting concept, but I need to get more details on exactly what this means.
He went on to say that for products in general, value is shifting away from hardware to software, especially embedded software. Increasingly, products are defined, upgraded, and updated via software. Traditional hardware manufacturers are beginning to employ more software engineers than mechanical engineers. As handy as these software innovations might seem, do they offer too many choices and ultimately frustrate customers and drive up costs? The verdict on this remains to be seen, but I tend to say, “yes,” too many choices can be overwhelming, especially for products that are meant to be simple.
What he was getting at, though, is that increasing numbers of CPUs and software mean “smart” products connected to the Internet. In other words, an “Internet of things,” thanks largely to increasing connectivity.
With 10 Creo apps currently available, and although the next release of Creo (3.0) won’t be available until early next year (Q1?), a few hints were given about what it might look like. Think scalability and interoperability – more on that later, though. PTC says that today, one in four Pro/ENGINEER users has upgraded to Creo, but sees adoption rate at 50% uptake by the end of this year. That seems just a bit optimistic, but potentially doable.
I’ve just begun with the highest of highlights about the conference and the future as PTC sees it. Over the few weeks I’ll discuss some of the most significant announcements coming out of PTC’s user conference with regard to new products/technologies, corporate direction, and customers’ reactions. From what I witnessed this week, PTC’s future looks brighter than it has for quite some time.
Rendering has entered the mainstream of the product development process with this capability being part of many CAD applications. However, there is still plenty of room for specialized products that optimize rendering and take it to a higher level. One of our favorites is Keyshot from Luxion, who just announced KeyShot 4, the next generation of its rendering and animation package.
Luxion continues to develop its rendering technology to bring speed and improvements to KeyShot, making it an integral part of the product development process, from concept through sales and marketing.
KeyShot 4 adds new approaches to features and improved rendering enhancements that make KeyShot an accurate 3D rendering animation system for the product visual workflow.
The new “Live Linking'”capability lets Creo, SolidWorks, and Rhinoceros users maintain all part and feature updates made to their models without having to redo any of their work inside KeyShot. This capability requires a separate plugin that is available free of charge from the KeyShot website.
Keyshot 4 introduces a new method for applying physical lights, with the ability to turn any object in the scene into a point, area, or light source. Improved import options give you more flexibility when importing 3D geometry and the ability to work with the actual units of CAD software.
Check out the Keyshot 4 overview video presentation:
More material options come courtesy of a new partnership with Mold-tech, introducing accurate representations of Mold-Tech textures.
Improved algorithms provide more realism for subsurface light scattering within translucent materials.
KeyShot Pro users now have the ability to apply render layers to objects and create Model or View Sets to explore different configurations of product appearances, camera views, and environments. Pro users will also experience enhanced HDR editing capability with dynamic environment highlighting and options to tilt and blur HDRI’s. The KeyShot user interface now has the ability to dock project, library, and animation windows. Optionally, models can now be viewed in full stereoscopic 3D on supported 3D monitors.
Increased control over the model and environment is provided with the ability to apply rounded edges to sharp corners, multi-select objects in the real-time window and create ground planes.
Speeding the time it takes to add detail to 3D geometry and reducing the files size of imported models has been addressed with the new Rounded edge feature. With this option, you can apply a small radius to sharp edges creating a more realistic look. This option is a a visual enhancement to the rendered graphics without increasing file size or render times.
KeyShot 4 pricing starts at $995. As with previous versions, animation capabilities can be added to KeyShot 4 for $500 and interactive KeyShotVR capabilities can be added for $1000.
We have watched Keyshot evolve and mature as one of the best rendering packages in the marketplace, regardless of price, and Keyshot 4 continues this positive evolution.
For almost 100 years, Aston Martin has been an icon of automotive speed and sophistication, winning the most distinctive races in the world throughout the 1920s (French Grand Prix), 1930s (Biennial Cup at Le Mans), and 1940s, as well as the 1950s (Le Mans 24 Hours).
But, for more than 45 years, Aston Martin stayed away from the racetrack.
In 2005, however, the company resurrected its racing heritage when it returned to the world circuit as Aston Martin Racing (AMR). That first year out, AMR’s DBR9 gained a CT1 class victory. Two years later, Aston Martin triumphed at Le Mans. Based on the Aston Martin DB9 road car, the DBR9 retains the chassis, engine block, and cylinder heads of the road car’s V12 engine. The rest of the car was re-engineered for high performance competition use. The DBR9’s bodywork is a blend of optimum aerodynamic performance and the styling of the DB9 road car.
More recently, AMR has geared up with some extra digital technology in its pocket. For a car company like Aston Martin, where prestige and precision have been part of its heritage since 1913, going digital for design and engineering was a big step forward.
After an extensive benchmarking process, AMR chose PTC Creo and PTC Windchill in 2011 for 3D CAD design of its racing vehicles and for PLM in its racecar division.
With the Creo suite, Aston Martin can start with simple sketched designs, refine them in Creo Parametric, and make them work on the track. AMR performs CFD analysis in Creo early on, and designers can make designs more aerodynamic. Instead of waiting for expensive prototypes, problematic areas are now digitally tested and corrected early in the design process using Creo.
In a three-minute video, PTC interviews Rick Simpson, Design Engineer at Aston Martin Racing. He explains the specifics of how PTC’s Creo design toolset helps them reduce lead times from design and fix design issues before going into manufacturing.
Interesting stuff from a company with a large legacy, long period away, and resurrection on the racetrack.
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.