PTC has inked what it's
calling the potentially biggest deal in its 24-year history, scoring a contract
with the European Aeronautic and Defense Space Co. EADS,
parent company of Airbus, to become the
sole provider of the giant's enterprise PLM platform.
The contract resulted from EADS' PLM Harmonized Enhanced
Innovation Excellence (PHENIX) initiative, launched in 2007 as a
cross-divisional program to achieve harmonization of enterprise PLM methods,
processes and tools between EADS business units, which include Airbus,
Eurocopter, the world's largest helicopter supplier and EADS Astrium, the
European leader in space programs from Ariane to Galileo. PTC competed in the
year-long request for proposal, beating out rival PLM vendors Siemens PLM Software, SAP and Dassault
With its PHENIX program, EADS is attempting to standardize
its PLM landscape, which like most big companies has consisted of a variety of
software platforms and tools from multiple vendors. The initiative is intended
to improve communications between divisions on a global level while reducing
time-to-market and increasing overall product quality. PTC Windchill will serve
as the foundation technology for PHEIXCHANGE, a common enterprise PLM backbone
for product development that will be deployed across all EADS divisions,
according to EADS officials.
PTC officials wouldn't comment on the value of the deal, but
did make hay about its potential to be the largest in the company's history.
"This has the opportunity to be one of the most, if not the most, significant
deals for PLM for PTC in our history," says Richard Prince, PTC's director of
vertical market strategy for aerospace and defense. "Getting selected was just
part of the challenge – now we have to be a great partner and deliver."
Prince said EADS has been a pre-existing customer of PTC's
for years, but the company was really able to differentiate itself for this
particular deal with its business process-focus for PLM. "In the last year,
we've really taken a process-centric approach to product development and that's
the way we engage the customer," Prince says. "We understand what their
strategic objectives are and then align those with key business initiatives. I
think that's a key thing EADS appreciated about PTC's approach to PLM."
The deal has particular significance to rival Dassault,
which counts Airbus among its key customers. When Airbus announced delays in
its much-anticipated A380 airplane in 2006 due to design snafus around its
wiring harness system, some pointed to incompatibilities among its CAD design
tools, including Dassault's CATIA, as partly to blame for the problems.
Dassault officials declined to comment on the EADS/PTC
contract, except to say their relationship with Airbus remains strong. "We
continue to be a strategic supplier to Airbus on all of its major products,"
says Jon Squire, Dassault's vice president of marketing for ENOVIA. Squire also
drew a distinction between the EADS PHENIX enterprise PLM platform and the
engineering data platform used by Airbus, which he says remains Dassault's
ENOVIA. In fact, in July 2006, shortly after the A380 wiring harness incident,
Airbus announced a deal whereby it was expanding the use of ENOVIA and CATIA
throughout the organization as a standard platform for digital markup for all
new programs. Squire says it did so to address the data incompatibility
problems that led to the wiring harness issues.
"One of the reasons for the problems was Airbus was using a
mismatch of tools," he says. "In addition, one of the things they weren't doing
at the time was pulling all the data from the different CAD systems into a
single digital mockup," he adds, saying that process is now done with ENOVIA.
Nevertheless, PLM experts say the deal is big news for PTC.
"PTC now has a strong position inside of EADS that could flow into Airbus," says Ken Amann, director of research for CIMdata
Inc., a consultancy specializing in PLM. "For Dassault, it means they're
going to have to collaborate with one of their competitors in one of their
premiere customers going forward."