Amidst the fanfare of a multimedia presentations and a completely
new brand strategy, PTC pulled back the covers
on its Project Lightening initiative announced earlier this year, revealing
details on a new scalable suite of interoperable design apps under the Creo
Described by CEO Jim Heppelmann as a "fresh start" and the next-generation mechanical tool platform for the next 20 years, PTC laid out its vision for Creo, which incorporates key elements in its existing product lineup along with a range of new patent-pending technologies. Creo, which companies executives insisted is not a simple repackaging of products, is specifically being architected to address the unsolved problems that have caused the mechanical CAD marketplace to remain stagnant: Usability, interoperability, vendor lock-in and assembly modeling. "If we take stock of what we have, we have a lot of the right elements to build a new solution that addresses those big problems," notes Brian Shepard, executive vice president of product development for PTC.
There are four principle components of the Creo architecture:
AnyRole Apps: This is a concept PTC describes as a right-size, role-based application as opposed to serving up a single, monolithic CAD platform that tries to be everything to everyone in the design chain. This strategy, designed to simplify CAD and make it more inclusive, would result in dozens, maybe even hundreds of "apps," built by PTC and a partner ecosystem, for specific roles within the design process. In this scenario, for example, there could be an industrial designer app that has select surfacing tools for that individual, an analyst app with functionality specific for simulation experts or a service platform app that might let those individuals easily create 2-D and 3-D technical illustrations. "These are purpose-built tools for specific roles," explains Mike Campbell, PTC's divisional vice president. "There's nothing extra and nothing missing."
AnyData Adoption: While AnyMode modeling addresses data sharing and interoperability between apps in the Creo suite, it doesn't account for data and models created in other CAD systems. Heterogeneous CAD is fact of life in today's design environment and sharing data between systems-and having it be useful-is a long-time challenge for customers. "One of the barriers for interoperability in CAD systems is that is been very difficult to share this recipe-based approach to geometry construction that is parametric modeling," Shepard said. "Creo adopts [data from third-party apps] as if it were created in the system."
AnyBOM Assembly: This design principle of Creo addresses the challenge of assembly modeling as companies struggle to create highly configurable products. Using the PTC's Windchill PLM software as the configuration kernel, Creo will enable a top-down approach to assembly modeling. Companies using Windchill will be able to push parts and assembly models into the CAD environment, enabling reuse and simplifying the design of new configurations. "Here to date, the integration between CAD and PLM has been around sophisticated document management and the vaulting and storing of CAD data," Shepard says. "This is the next level of integration between PLM and CAD tools, enabling business processes around configuration management."
Creo 1.0 will roll out in Summer 2011 with the first AnyRole Apps: Parametric; Direct modeling; Conceptual Engineering; Structural Simulation; Schematics; 3-D Technical Illustration; and Visualization. Creo 2.0 will follow up for release in the fall and will include AnyBOM Assembly. Pricing on the apps and modules has not yet been determined.
In addition to the new Creo platform, PTC has rebranded existing products. Pro/ENGINEER becomes Creo Elements/Pro; CoCreate becomes Creo Elements/Direct; and ProductView becomes Creo Elements/View.
Customers and industry analysts generally applauded PTC's efforts, particularly around the concept of AnyRole Apps, which they said would make CAD more accessible, and the idea of tackling the problems around configuration management. Execution, they said, would be PTC's biggest challenge. "The real truth of the matter comes when the software becomes available and gets tested by users," says John MacKrell, a senior consultant at CIMdata.