PTC announced the release of Windchill 10.0, the newest version of PTC’s product lifecycle management (PLM) software. With the latest release of Windchill, PTC is enabling manufacturers to do more throughout the product lifecycle, know more about product performance and get more value from PLM.
Users managing product structures in Windchill 10.0 can edit across multiple levels, easily reference which product uses a particular component and take advantage of embedded visualization.
“Customers are constantly telling us about the escalating complexity of product development driven by manufacturers’ focus on increased product differentiation, an explosion in the volume of regulatory constraints, continual quality pressures, the realization of service operations as a significant profit center, and heightened sensitivity to the environmental impact of product operations,” said Brian Shepherd, executive vice president, product development, PTC.
With new capabilities that focus on product analytics and quality management, Windchill 10.0 allows customers to more effectively define, manage, and validate complete bills of material (BOMs), providing linkages across domain-specific views of product structures throughout the entire lifecycle. Windchill 10.0 also includes a new user experience and improved system administration, making it easier than ever to use and maintain and enabling broad adoption.
Windchill centrally manages all product deliverables including MCAD, ECAD, documentation and service information. Windchill 10.0 unifies its ECAD data management capabilities to offer a common user experience, consistent with its existing approach for MCAD data management.
For many companies, significant business value is derived from aftermarket services and parts. To ensure highly profitable maintenance, repair, and overhaul organizations, the processes of service and spare parts planning must be concurrent with product development. When combined with Creo™ for 3D illustrated and animated service instructions and parts lists, and Arbortext for technical communications creation and delivery, Windchill will support a complete, integral service information solution.
PTC has long advocated that business improvement is enabled by process excellence. With advances in top-down-design and configuration management, and efficiencies in interference management, Windchill 10.0 supports business process optimization in many areas, but most notably for Detailed Design, Variant Design and Generation, and Verification and Validation.
“The many new configuration capabilities in Windchill 10.0 will give our users much more power and flexibility in managing products,” said Terry Gimbre, Engineering Manager, Thales Communications, Inc. “This supports our commitment to continuous process improvement and enhances our ability to deliver high quality mission critical products on which lives literally depend.”
With Windchill 10.0, PTC’s Relex and Insight product lines have been rebranded as part of the Windchill product family to better reflect their availability as both a stand-alone offering as well as part of a comprehensive Windchill solution.
Windchill Quality Solutions (including the former Relex products) help improve next-generation products and reduce the cost of poor quality by preventing repeat errors and building reliability and risk management into the product development lifecycle. New offerings include solutions for CAPA (Corrective Action Preventive Action) to accelerate problem resolution through improved monitoring and root cause identification.
Equally important, Windchill Product Analytics (formerly InSight) provides early knowledge of product performance and includes new solutions for cost visibility and carbon footprint analysis. These enhancements bolster an already rich solution for materials and substance management, which includes reporting against compliance specifications such as REACH and RoHS. Collectively, these solutions help companies understand environmental impacts and address potential points of failure before they occur.
Windchill 10.0 enables customers to derive significantly more value from their PLM investment by providing a dramatically improved user experience along with several administrative process improvements. The approachable user experience results in a quick learning curve and expands adoption among casual users. For experienced users, the modern and pleasing user experience drives productivity and satisfaction. For IT professionals, easier upgrades, enhanced administrative support, and robust new system monitoring tools improve maintainability and lower the total cost of ownership.
“Windchill 10.0 represents a sea change in usability. The amount of user research that PTC did was prodigious and impressive. And clearly, they successfully applied what they had learned,” noted Steve Krug, usability expert and author of Don’t Make Me Think – A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.
“Windchill 10.0, the largest software release in company history, extends PTC’s PLM leadership through new capabilities designed to help product organizations thrive today and prosper tomorrow,” said Shepherd. “Specifically, Windchill allows business leaders to achieve their goals through product excellence: delivering innovative offerings to the market that exceed customer demands, adhere to regulatory and quality requirements, and will support aftermarket service efficiency. With its breadth of capabilities, Windchill 10.0 delivers more out-of-the-box capabilities than ever while its intuitive user experience and upgradeability will enable accelerated adoption.”
Windchill 10.0 is available now. Certain quality, service, and product analytics solutions will be delivered throughout calendar 2011. The timing of any product release, and any features or functionality thereof, is subject to change at PTC’s discretion.
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
From what I can gather, the most significant enhancements to Windchill 10 PLM software are for defining, managing, and validating comprehensive bills of material (BOMs). Beyond that, Windchill 10 also provides linkages across domain-specific views of product structures throughout the entire product lifecycle.
In addition, Windchill 10 includes an improved UI and system administration capabilities, making it easier to use and maintain, while enabling broader adoption, at least according to PTC.
Windchill 10.0, theoretically, can centrally manage all product deliverables including: MCAD, ECAD, documentation and service information; unifies its ECAD data management capabilities to offer a common user experience, consistent with its existing approach for MCAD data management. In addition, with the acquisition of MKS (See item below in “The Week’s Top Stories”), embedded software will also be able to be more effectively managed. This is especially significant because there are fewer and fewer products that are truly 100% mechanical. Increasingly, “mechanical” products are actually an agglomeration of mechanical, electronic, and software components that have to work flawlessly together for a product to work as planned.
According to PTC, when combined with Creo for 3D illustrated and animated service instructions and parts lists, and Arbortext for technical communications creation and delivery, Windchill 10 supports a complete, integrated service information package.
Windchill 10.0 also supports business process optimization in areas including Detailed Design, Variant Design and Generation, and Verification and Validation, which is expanding the PLM realm to ERP. This is a complex expansion, but one that PTC feels it needs to get to a higher plane in the crowded and competitive PLM space.
What we see today in Windchill 10 really began a couple of years ago.
In 2008, PTC introduced a couple of new members to the Windchill family -- ProductPoint and Product View. At about the same time, I found PTC’s foray into employing Microsoft’s SharePoint Server interesting because it is entering territory that an unnamed competitor trailblazed, but as far as I could tell, never really caught on as they had hoped. PTC, however, seems to have had better luck and greater acceptance because of its Windchill customer base and the way the technology is implemented.
SharePoint, specifically Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), is Microsoft’s infrastructure for collaboration. It is an application and also a technology platform for the developingWeb-based applications such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). WSS is bundled with Windows Server, and Microsoft positions WSS, the base SharePoint offering, as a team-based collaboration environment that enables users to create workspaces and then author, publish, store, share, and keep track of information. WSS also supports integration with and offline synchronization through Outlook. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) is a secondary offering that enhances WSS to enable it to act as a document management system for Microsoft Office.
PTC realized, as did a lot of others, that SharePoint by itself was not very effective for PLM since it is based on a simple model of individual data files. Unfortunately, the complex file structures and configurations which are at the heart of mechanical and electrical CAD systems, as well as technical documentation tools and other applications related to product development are not understood by SharePoint, so most product developers found that SharePoint didn’t not work well with the core product development tools they use every day. Of course, SharePoint offers none of the more advanced PLM concepts like BOM management, configuration and change management, component and supplier management, or visualization and digital mockup, and others.
Analogous to how MOSS enhances WSS functionality to meet the document management requirements of more sophisticated Office users, Windchill ProductPoint enhances Microsoft SharePoint with richer capabilities that enable teams to manage and share complex and structured product development information. Examples of complex structured data common in product development include MCAD, ECAD, technical publishing, embedded software, and math and simulation tools.
Last year, PTC expanded Windchill, its family of PLM solutions, with the announcement of several new and enhanced solutions built on the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 collaboration platform, including:
- Windchill PPMLink - A program portfolio manager that couples stage-gate methods with unique capabilities to aggregate program and product-related metrics, improving visibility and decision-making
- Windchill SocialLink - Utilizing social computing capabilities to bring the collective wisdom of communities to bear on product development challenges
- Windchill Web Parts for SharePoint – A consolidation of critical information from Windchill and other enterprise systems for presentation in a familiar Microsoft SharePoint 2010 environment for easier, extended information access
- Windchill ProductPoint - Addressing the specific CAD data management needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMB).
On many levels, PTC is still undergoing a massive transition, primarily with the changing product lineup and branding, but most of the concerns and complaints we had experienced in the past with the company and its products, services, and direction continue to be addressed in a positive way.
As I did last year when he ascended to the top at PTC, I continue to think that Heppelmann at the helm is a good thing because he is a “product guy” with an engaging personality (no BS), as well as a good perception and attitude toward his customers. On the whole, though, it looks as if PTC is working to achieve a 50/50 balanced split on CAD and PLM, and not favoring one over the other like a swinging pendulum, as has been the case the past several years.
Speaking of attitude, that's another big change company-wide that I experienced. Whereas before, PTC had a transactional, tactical approach with customers; this attitude and way of doing business has evolved to more of a strategic, partnership relationship. The former arrogant attitude and stance has been replaced by one of confidence. All good things when trying to win the hearts, minds, and budgets of current and prospective customers. Heppelmann said that going forward, “Winning the big relationship is more important than just winning the big deal.”
Since becoming president and CEO, Heppelmann has said that PTC will continue to help customers with software and services for product development, as well as process improvement. It is this process aspect that he says distinguishes PTC from the competition, whom he said have a narrower product focus. He also said that there is a continuing and pressing need for new fundamental design and engineering approaches - changing and improving such things as the UI on software products is incremental, not monumental.
On the PLM front, Heppelmann said that he believed for investment and ROI considerations, PLM has significant advantages of ERP systems. In fact, he said, “PLM has gotten as big and strategic as ERP.” PLM is obviously one of the big dogs at PTC, especially knowing that the company (by its own admission) has spent more than $100,000,000 on Windchill R&D in a little over a decade since acquiring it.
On the CAD side, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, now known as Creo Elements/Pro has not really been discussed all that much, but I expect that to turn 180° as launch time approaches.
Then there is the mandatory/obligatory compute cloud discussion and PTC's plans. As it turns out, Windchill has been “cloud-ready” for a while now because it can be accessed and used with a browser. However, when asked directly, Heppelmann has had some interesting thoughts on cloud computing and pulls no punches. For example, he has said such things as, “As far as cloud computing goes, I'm not pro or anti - I'm ambivalent, ambiguous, and neutral on it. While I'm not anti-cloud, I am anti-hype regarding the cloud and clouds are made of vapor. What problems does cloud computing truly solve and how do you address the performance problems it introduces? Windchill is available via public and private clouds but we currently (June 2010) have no plans for CAD, primarily because there is no demand.” Obviously, PTC is venturing carefully into the cloud.
Windchill 10 is one of the first big product announcements from PTC this year, and we are anticipating more big things to come as the Creo line takes shape and launches.
The Week’s Top Stories
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the news items that were the most viewed during last week.
Autodesk Brings AutoCAD WS Mobile App to Android
Autodesk, Inc. announced the AutoCAD WS mobile application on the Android platform. A free web and mobile application, AutoCAD WS uses cloud computing technology to enable Autodesk software users to view, edit and share their designs through web browsers and mobile devices. AutoCAD WS for Android has features such as a simplified, intuitive set of viewing, editing, and markup tools so users can work on their designs while on the go. Users can open drawings from email attachments, sync files from the web, or upload drawings directly from AutoCAD software through the integrated online tab. Drawings can also be saved locally for use in the field when an Internet connection is unavailable. One feature unique to Android version of AutoCAD WS is the text annotation tool supports integrated voice commands available on devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) or above. Now Android users can insert comments and notations on a drawing by speaking rather than typing them into the text edit box. AutoCAD WS for Android will be available for download on the Android Market beginning April 20, 2011.
PROSTEP packages the whole world of engineering in a 3D PDF document
PROSTEP AG unveiled PROSTEP PDF Generator 3D that allows 3D models from most CAD systems to be combined with PDM metadata, such as product structures, material data and BOMs from ERP systems, and other engineering information in a 3D PDF document and distributed. This can be done automatically, for example, when there is a change in status. All a recipient needs to visualize 3D models and 2D data is Adobe Reader. At the same time, a multi-level security concept provides maximum protection for the content communicated in the 3D PDF documents. PROSTEP PDF Generator 3D is the successor to Adobe LiveCycle PDF Generator 3D ES2. Several months ago, PROSTEP took over responsibility for its continued development, support, and sales from Adobe System Inc. An important step is the integration of the technology in a companys’ PLM and ERP solutions for automating 3D PDF documents. To do this, PROSTEP has developed a special PDF2PLM connector that is based on the OpenPDM technology.
LMS Solidifies Acoustic Simulation with Automatically Matched Layer (AML)
LMS has released LMS Virtual.Lab Acoustics Rev 10 for acoustic simulation. The most significant feature of this release is AML (Automatically Matched Layer), an advanced FEM acoustics technique. Additionally, there are a variety of other new features that accelerate the acoustic simulation process, including a highly performant MUMPS Solver (Multi-Frontal Massively Parallel Sparse Direct Solver) and a new range of modeling tools dedicated to duct acoustics. There is no need to model the absorbing PML layer, as AML automatically creates the absorbing PML layers. The new MUMPS FEM solver solves equations much faster than any other technique. A direct solver, MUMPS can handle different load cases, for example, multiple engine RPMs. Duct acoustics, or more specifically the efficient attenuation of noise inside ducts, represents a major application in the acoustic simulation field, for example, for turbo-machinery, aero-engines or intake and exhaust systems. LMS Virtual.Lab Rev 10 embeds dedicated functionality for duct acoustics, including powerful duct mode propagation, including efficiently handling of temperature distribution within ducts, including effects of flow and more. AML provides fast simulation of exterior radiated noise and very accurate modeling of non-reflective duct terminations up to high frequencies.
PTC to Unify Management of Product Hardware and Software Development Lifecycles with Acquisition of MKS
PTC and MKS Inc., an application lifecycle management (ALM) technology developer, announced that they have entered into a definitive acquisition agreement pursuant to which PTC has agreed to acquire MKS for CDN$26.20 per share for an aggregate purchase price of approximately CDN$292.5 million in an all cash transaction. MKS Integrity coordinates and manages all activities and artifacts associated with developing software intensive products, including requirements, models, code and test, ensuring comprehensive lifecycle traceability. By unifying MKS’s ALM solutions with PTC’s PLM solutions, PTC will enable manufacturers to better align the management of a product’s hardware components and related software. Although software is considered a critical source of product innovation, software development is often managed separately from the hardware into which it is embedded. This can lead to reduced product quality and increased total service costs. By unifying the management of the hardware and software development lifecycles, PTC will foster greater collaboration between disparate engineering and development teams, enabling improved requirements management and system engineering.