Touting what it calls the largest release in the product's
history, PTC released a major
upgrade to its Windchill Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform, featuring
a completely redesigned and more accessible user interface, a heightened focus
on process improvement along with new modules to support field service
requirements and product analytics.
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aims to help companies address the escalating complexity
surrounding product development, driven by a range of factors, including an
increased focus on product differentiation, mounting regulatory requirements,
quality pressures and attention to the environmental impact of product
development. "Our customers are facing far more complexity in their products
and it's a huge challenge," notes Michael Distler, product marketing director
for Windchill. "But the challenges go far beyond the traditional boundaries of
engineering. There are concerns about field service productivity, hardware and
software coordination, quality issues, issues around product cost and
environmental compliance. Appropriately, with the 10.0 release, the Windchill
tent has expanded and it's not just engineering, but other groups within the
product development ecosystem are now involved."
One of the primary themes of the new release is increasing
the type of content that Windchill can manage. For example, Windchill 10.0
unifies its ECAD data management capabilities, offering a common user
experience and single repository for managing ECAD data that is consistent with
its approach for handling MCAD data. In addition, there are new integrations
for supporting and managing embedded software data as part of the Windchill
10.0 repository, which will improve visibility and eliminate many of the
bottlenecks and miscues that erupt from having to manage software and hardware
components in separate systems. "It can be a real headache for our customers
making sure they get the right version of the software," Distler explains.
"This keeps the software guys in the loop and helps connect two worlds."
Windchill 10.0 also sets the stage to better connect the PLM
platform to the field service world. To ensure that the process of service and
spare parts planning is in sync with product development, PTC will buttress
future maintenance releases of Windchill 10.0 with capabilities for managing service
information and spare parts lists along the lines of a BOM (Bill of Materials)
for engineering or manufacturing, he says.
Process improvement is another area of focus in the upgrade.
To accommodate companies' push into top-down-design and configuration
management, Windchill 10.0 supports a number of optimizations for such business
processes as Detailed Design, Variant Design and Verification and Validation.
For example, a new Design in Context feature filters out the product structure
to deliver the right information depending on a user's need as opposed to
requiring them to download an entire product model. The new Windchill
Interference Management Service, which can be configured to run as needed,
automatically simulates moving parts in a model to check for interferences,
another boost for companies trying to optimize processes around designing many
variations of a single product.
Know More Through Analytics
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To help product development organizations "know more" about
what they're building, Windchill 10.0 draws heavily on prior PTC acquisitions
to build out a suite of capabilities in the area of product analytics. The new
Windchill Quality Solution, which builds on the former
Relex product line
, is designed to reduce the cost of
poor quality by helping engineers prevent repeat errors and build reliability
and risk management into the product lifecycle. New offerings under this
umbrella include a CAPA (Corrective Action Preventive Action) module for
helping to resolve problems by improved monitoring and root cause identification.
In the same vein, Windchill Product Analytics (formerly
known as the Insight products)
provides users with early knowledge of product performance in such
areas as cost and carbon footprint analysis. These new areas complement
Windchill Product Analytics' existing solutions for materials and substance
management, which helps companies meet their reporting requirements for
compliance with regulations like REACH and RoHS.
To better deliver all of these new areas of functionality,
Windchill 10.0 has been completely revamped with a new user interface intended
to both appeal to more casual users and make tasks more efficient for power
users. The ability to access menus and functions via right clicks as opposed to
pull-down menus, new wizards and customization capabilities are just a few of
the user interface enhancements that should broaden up use of Windchill to a
wider audience, according to Terry Gimbre, engineering manager at Thales Communications
a manufacturer of defense communications and software. Thales, a long-time
Windchill customer, currently has about 300 Windchill seats across a variety of
users and departments.
"We have users, from CAD engineers to the CEO," Gimbre says.
"Many have been reluctant to use the system, but with the new UI, it's very
user friendly." While Gimbre doesn't see the new UI necessarily attracting new
Windchill users, he believes the changes, in addition to tighter integration
with mainstream business tools like Microsoft Office, will increase usage of
Windchill 10.0 is available now, but some of the quality,
service and product analytics solutions will be released later this year.