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PTC Fleshes out Product Analytics Platform

DN Staff

February 12, 2010

3 Min Read
PTC Fleshes out Product Analytics Platform

PTC's announcement thisweek that it acquiredthe Planet Metrics environmental analytics application added more meat toits emerging product analytics strategy intended to help companies develop moresustainable products while avoiding the risks and high costs associated withproduct failures.

According to Andrew Wertkin, PTC's vice president of Insightproducts and technology, the product analytics strategy is designed to helpcompanies better manage risk, avoid costs and protect revenue. "We're trying tohelp companies measure things that could cause a product launch to fail, revenueforecasts to not be met or (that might) impact margins," he explains. "We wantto move any indications of these events up as early as possible in the designprocess so engineers can make informed decisions."

Step one in PTC's fulfillment of this strategy was its December2008 acquisition of Synapsis, which delivered a rules-based engine and architecturefor analyzing product data in addition to a patented solution for trackingproduct compliance at the substance, material and parts levels. The Synapsistechnology, which was repositioned under the InSight brand, serves as the corefoundation for the emerging product analytics line, as well as the initialenvironmental compliance component. The software helps companies align theirproduct development efforts with regulatory compliance requirements aroundRestriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste from Electrical andElectronic Equipment (WEEE), as well as with the European Union's Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction ofChemicals (REACH), for example. It also helps them alignregulatory efforts with individual customer requirements, Wertkin says.

PTC's acquisition of RelexSoftware Corp. was part two of the plan. This component provides qualityand reliability analytics, giving engineers early insight into potential riskand reliability issues in addition to helping them predict and trackreliability performance throughout the development lifecycle. Unlike othercomponents, which have been or will be rebuilt on the InSight platform, PTC hasopted not to rewrite the Relex software. The company will offer strategic integrationsso this data is not off in some silo, but rather, connected to the rest of theenterprise. "We don't see the benefit of rewriting Relex to the InSightplatform - some of its capabilities are just not well-suited to an enterpriseanalytics platform," explains Wertkin. "Our short-term strategy is to connect itto the enterprise and get the data in WindChill to make sure the process ofreliability engineering is part of the key engineering practices."

This week's Planet Metrics acquisition continues the story.The new technology, which will be made available on the InSight platform withinthe next few months, allows manufacturers and retailers to model, analyze andoptimize carbon emissions and energy use throughout the entire value chain,from concept to end-of-life. PTC is also planning a cost analytics module forInSight, that it is developing internally, which will allow manufacturers topredict the costs of building products and to do trade-off analysis to optimizetheir decision making. Trade compliance and sourcing compliance are otherpossible component additions for the InSight product analytics platform.

Doing trade-off analysis to determine the impact of changesis an area where engineers could certainly use some help, according to MonicaSchnitger, president of Schnitger Corp.,a market research firm specializing in CAD/PLM software and engineering."Reducing weight or switching materials may seem like the right answer, butdoing trade-off studies if very difficult," she says. "Planet Metrics modelscarbon footprint and energy use from cradle to grave, which as I understand it,allows for easier testing of assumptions around substitute materials,packaging, suppliers etc. It allows a designer to try out multiple scenarios."

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