PTC Focuses Manufacturing Strategy With Acquisition

At the 2005 PTC/USER World conference in Orlando, PTC unveiled its strategy to enable simultaneous product and process development through enhanced manufacturing process solutions. The strategy extends PTC's current solution offerings, including Pro/ENGINEER(R) and Windchill(R), with capabilities that deliver strong business benefits such as reduced time-to-market, streamlined change management, and reduced manufacturing costs. PTC will add many of these new capabilities through the acquisition and integration of Polyplan Technologies Inc., a technology leader in manufacturing planning.

The extended manufacturing strategy builds on PTC's mission to deliver simple, powerful, and connected tools for product development. PTC will focus its extended manufacturing strategy on providing an easy-to-use and affordable solution for use by mainstream manufacturing engineers who have traditionally shunned the complex, disconnected, specialist manufacturing process management (MPM) tools available today.

"Manufacturing companies face intense pressures to speed the process of developing and building products. But so often, the process is slowed down by weak communication between design and manufacturing engineers, lack of centralized access to current data, and the use of disconnected processes and tools at various points in the product lifecycle," said Jim Heppelmann, executive vice president and chief product officer of PTC. "Our expanded manufacturing solutions will enable customers to dramatically reduce time-to-market by breaking down the existing barriers between design and manufacturing, and by providing, for the first time, an integral system for product and process development."

"Manufacturing planning has emerged as a critical part of the overall product development lifecycle. Automating and integrating the manufacturing engineering process will provide significant benefits including reduced product costs and improved time to market," said Gisela Wilson, Analyst of PLM Solutions at international market research firm IDC. "PTC is taking the right approach by making manufacturing engineering an extension of their Windchill-based Product Development System. IDC predicts that the market for manufacturing process planning tools will grow to $1.45B by 2008," she continued. "Polyplan is a great choice for PTC. Their focus on innovative, Internet-based, easy-to-use, manufacturing process planning tools makes them a perfect fit for PTC's product line and customer base."

PTC's strategy for manufacturing includes:
  • Enabling design for manufacture and assembly by capturing and managing features directly within the Pro/ENGINEER model
  • Delivering advanced manufacturing engineering capabilities, including process plan creation, time and cost analysis, line balancing, and creation of associative operator work instructions and CNC tool paths, through the integration of Polyplan with Windchill
  • Leveraging Windchill collaboration tools to streamline and control communication with outsourced manufacturers and remote plants
  • Applying Windchill best-in-class configuration management and change management capabilities to manufacturing processes and resources
  • Enabling electronic shop floor delivery of visual work instructions and collection of operator feedback
  • Out-of-the-box ERP integration with key systems like SAP and Oracle
Polyplan has been part of the PTC software partner program for several years. Polyplan's clean technology architecture, based on the same modern J2EE and Web standards as Windchill, enables the rapid incorporation of manufacturing capabilities into PTC's product development system.

"Polyplan has taken a strategic and innovative approach to process planning," said Gilles B. Paul, asset optimization director of Bombardier Transportation, North America. "We have been working closely with Polyplan to ensure that their product meets our needs and it is now in use to address our manufacturing planning for new products. Using the Polyplan solution has enabled us to improve the collaborative work environment between product design and manufacturing engineers. This has led to early validation of product manufacturability and accelerates the design of the best solution. We look forward to working with PTC in the future as they advance the current offering."

Polyplan is a private company based in Montreal, Canada. The company was spun out of Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, an international leader in training and research in the field of engineering. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

This announcement should bode well for current and prospective PTC customers in that it illustrates the company's commitment to manufacturing that includes BOTH Pro/ENGINEER for design and engineering and Windchill for data and process management with an additional twist offered by Polyplan. I say both because for several years PTC's pendulum seemed to swing back and forth as it decided what it wanted to be — a predominantly CAD or PDM company — seemingly with no clear direction one way or the other. It's been only relatively recently that both sides of the house have received equal mind share and attention internally in terms of development, marketing, corporate philosophy, and the future direction of the company.

Through manufacturing process management, an increasingly important element of PLM, Polyplan is a company that bridges the gap that often exists between product design engineering, manufacturing engineering, and the factory floor. Polyplan's technology revolves around what it calls collaborative Manufacturing Process Management (cMPM). The company has been a prominent player in aerospace, heavy equipment, and transportation, and these are markets where PTC also has a presence. Some of the areas of expertise and technology that Polyplan brings to the party include configuration and change management, developing an integrated product development team environment, digital process design, manufacturing cost and time estimation, and producing visual shop floor work instructions. The goal of all this being to foster concurrent and collaborative product development.

The Polyplan announcement comes on the heels of new versions of Windchill and Pro/INTRALINK (8.0). With a new version of Pro/ENGINEER in the wings and these other announcements, PTC seems like it might once again have a focus and direction that it seemed to have lost, but has once again found.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

PTC Reduces Complexity Of Product Development Process With Release Of Windchill 8.0
PTC announced the availability of Windchill 8.0, a major release of PTC's data management and collaboration software. PTC says that Windchill 8.0 delivers significant enhancements that simplify product development, even as manufacturing companies find their processes becoming more complex. Major enhancements include network performance, improved heterogeneous data management, and engineering process improvements. PTC also introduced new Windchill modules that add capabilities to standard Windchill.

Informative Graphics Announces Low-Cost 3D CAD Viewer
Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC), announced Modelpress Desktop is in open beta release. ModelPress Desktop is a low cost, simple to use application that views a variety of 3D file formats in a common user interface. Formats supported include AutoCAD 3D DWF/DWG/DXF, Inventor, SolidWorks, Solid Edge, IGES, STL, VRML, OpenHSF, XGL, SAT, 3DS and IGC's content-secure 3DF format. The expected release date for the software is end of the Q3 2005. Pricing for ModelPress Desktop is scheduled at $99.00 US.

Dassault's "Cosmic Blobs" Launches Version 1.1 For PC And Mac
Dassault Systemes announced the launch of Cosmic Blobs software version 1.1 for Apple Macintosh and Windows PC systems. Available for the first time on the Mac computer, Cosmic Blobs is the world's most powerful 3D graphics creativity software ever invented for kids, and now includes a movie file capture feature, improved content graphics, and an expanded user interface. Cosmic Blobs acts like modeling clay on the computer, enabling users to design and animate creations in the style of today's computer-generated cartoons and movies.

UGS Delivers Parasolid Version 17.0, The Latest Release Of Its Geometric Modeling Software
UGS Corp. announced the availability of Parasolid version 17.0 (V17.0) software, the latest release of its geometric modeling component software. Parasolid V17.0 includes new capabilities for product design and design-for-manufacture, enhanced modeling automation, and end-user productivity.

Boeing Projects $2.1 Trillion Market For New Commercial Airplanes During Next 20 Years
Boeing sees a $2.1 trillion market for new commercial airplanes during the next 20 years. Market demands will more than double the world's commercial airplane fleet by 2024 and accommodate a forecasted 4.8% annual increase in passenger traffic growth. Boeing projects a need for approximately 25,700 new commercial airplanes (passenger and freighter) during the next 20 years, more than 80% of which will be in the single-aisle and mid-size twin-aisle categories. This compares with last year's projection of a 25,000 commercial airplane market, worth $2.0 trillion. In terms of delivery dollars, the largest market is projected to be the Asia-Pacific region, with 36% of the $2.1 trillion total.

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