It’s official. PTC now has a strong mechatronics story to tell thanks to its acquisition of MKS Inc., which markets an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tool that will nicely extend the capabilities of PTC’s Windchill to manage embedded software development.
With the roughly $306 million acquisition of MKS, which closed this week, PTC gains access to the MKS Integrity platform, which provides both requirements management and system engineering support for software-intensive products. Just like PLM is used to manage what’s now primarily activities and information around the mechanical side of product development, MKS Integrity coordinates and manages all activities and data associated with developing software-intensive products, including requirements, models, code and test. By bringing MKS Integrity into the Windchill fold, PTC is aiming to deliver a full solution that unifies hardware and software development as opposed to having each discipline be managed and stored in separate systems.
In announcing the deal, Jim Heppelmann, PTC president and CEO, said that software engineering has become a fundamental backbone element in today’s product development process. As result, he believes companies are seeking a more comprehensive management approach to their product lifecycles and a way to establish a “single source of truth” around a unified product definition.
While PTC and other CAD vendors have stepped up the capabilities of their systems to manage electronics content along with MCAD data, embedded software development has really still remained on the sidelines as a separate system. As products across all categories–automotive, aerospace, even household appliances and children’s toys–gain in sophistication, embedded software is becoming an increasingly larger piece of the entire product definition. For example, cars rolling off the assembly line today have more than 100 million lines of embedded software code, on average, and nearly three quarters of all medical device innovation is attributed to software changes.
In its analysis on the acquisition, Gartner analysts said PTC’s customers will benefit from MKS Integrity, “enabling them to extend from electromechanical design to project definition and management, along with full management of the life cycle of the source and applications being delivered.”
By unifying PLM and ALM, companies can expect strong value in improving traceability and velocity–the result of having a single platform to manage an integrated product development process that includes software, mechanical design and electronics. PTC’s obviously not there yet, but they now have a jumpstart.