This year’s LiveWorx conference, the definitive event for digital transformation, came in as a tour de force of transformative technology, bringing together 6,500+ of the industry’s greatest minds for four days of tech activations, interactive workshops, facilitated industry networking, cutting-edge demos, and more.
PTC’s President & CEO Jim Heppelmann kicked off this year’s show with a clear message for industrial enterprises: A unique combination of capabilities from CAD, PLM, IoT, and AR is required to drive innovation across enterprises' products, processes, and people.
Heppelmann’s LiveWorx keynote focused on applying these three pillars of digital transformation – products, processes, and people – across the industrial enterprise, spanning engineering, manufacturing, and operations to unleash opportunities across the enterprise. Through a series of live demos, Heppelmann took the audience on a virtual tour of what digital transformation looks like in practice.
“Our goal at LiveWorx is to fill you up with big ideas about innovation in the digital world that will help you think about better ways to get work done,” said Heppelmann. “We want you to be able to take these ideas home with you and transform them into more capable products, more capable people, and more capable processes.”
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from Heppelmann’s keynote – and explore the ways these ideas are being put into practice to drive digital transformation and innovation across the industrial enterprise:
PTC began as a CAD company more than three decades ago – and has, since then, continually folded in new technologies to allow engineers to become more innovative, productive, and efficient in product design. This so-called “CAD Renaissance” includes AI-driven generative design, real-time simulations, 3D printing of optimized parts, and much more.
Heppelmann used the Volvo Group as an example of how new CAD technologies can create business value from engineering to manufacturing.
In an effort to realize potential efficiency savings, Volvo needed to reimagine the design of their SuperTruck, a state-of-the-art tractor + trailer combination; the weight of the engine mount bracket needed to be reduced, without compromising the performance of the vehicle.
Using PTC’s new generative design capabilities, designers can evaluate hundreds of design options, including design variants specifically optimized for additive manufacturing, casting, forging, and machining processes.
But the key, Heppelmann explained, is being able to build on new, innovative technologies to imagine what has previously been impossible.
“When I look in the digital toolbox, I see that we could use AI to generate an optimized design, then iterate using real-time simulation to ensure that each change moves us in in the right direction, and finally validate with a full high-fidelity simulation to ensure we’ve balanced the objectives of weight and strength,” said Heppelmann. The power to generate, iterate, validate is all available in Creo.
To that end, Heppelmann went on to describe the important role product lifecycle management (PLM) plays in driving digital transformation. Specifically, PLM is the digital backbone that understands product configurations across the dimension of time, customer choice, and business role.
A company like Volvo is swimming in this complexity. In fact, there are 10 to the 80th power number of hypothetically possible configurations of their trucks across their product lines. In 2018, Volvo built nearly 260,000 trucks, and nearly every truck they produced was unique. Throughout the manufacturing process, Volvo performs 40 distinct quality checks and has more than 200 possible QA variations to choose from based on how the engines are configured.
All of this requires a strong system that can manage this complex digital thread from engineering all the way through to manufacturing. It’s PLM that that has the recipe, that unique combination of data managed, so that the digital thread can:
“PTC brings in a strong knowledge and experience on CAD-PLM and also stands as one of the world’s leading experts on IoT and AR,” said Bertrand Felix, Senior Research and Technology Development Manager, Volvo Group. “This is a huge differentiation: the digital continuity and connection with our own systems is possible only with the PTC value chain.”
The renaissance of design and the digital thread from engineering processes, to generate, iterate, and validate, through configuration management and manufacturing instructions is the foundation of digital transformation for leading discrete manufacturers like Volvo Group.
While this concept of a digital thread is not new, it’s emerging for entire operational environments and processes, driven by technologies like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and augmented reality (AR).
To that end, Vuforia Expert Capture is enabling industrial enterprises to rapidly capture work procedures from the expert’s point-of-view, allowing companies to capitalize on workforce efficiency while combating the growing manufacturing skills shortage. With Vuforia Expert Capture, the experience of expert employees becomes the standard operating procedure for everyone.
“Put simply, AR is doing for humans what the concept of the “Internet of Things” has done for machines,” said Heppelmann. “This means the same boost in capabilities that were made possible with smart, connected products is now possible in a world of AR-enabled smart, connected people.”
Blake Moret, Chairman & CEO, Rockwell Automation, joined Heppelmann on stage to discuss how data about people is being aggregated with data from products and processes, enabling analytical tools to generate a new level of insight that reflects a complete understanding of the business.
Rockwell and PTC’s collaborative offering, FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, Powered by PTC, allows industrial enterprises to optimize factory operations and enhance worker productivity by leveraging powerful data and insights.
“One capability that is key to enable digital transformation is analytics,” said Moret. “Creating systems of intelligence requires leveraging innovative capabilities and automation under the hood in a way that orchestrates intelligence seamlessly into trusted insights that can be easily consumed.”
For industrial enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation journeys, Heppelmann explained, they need to bring the right technologies – IoT, AR, AI – together to address the right business challenges.
Heppelmann invited Dr. Maria Wilson, Global Leader of Data Driven Advantage at Howden, to discuss the digital twin strategy for their innovative product, a diaphragm compressor, used in hydrogen production for fuel cell electric vehicles.
Wilson explained that augmented reality extends the value of Howden's IoT data and digital twin model and is completely reshaping their customers' experience of owning and operating Howden equipment.
“At Howden we are leveraging the most powerful industrial IoT platform in the world, ThingWorx," said Wilson. "We integrate the equipment expertise built into our digital twin models with powerful machine learning capabilities, all seamlessly built into Microsoft Azure.”
As Heppelmann’s keynote drew to a close, he left the audience with a series of key takeaways, namely that industrial enterprises must capitalize on the right digital technologies to defend and advance their competitive advantage. To succeed in digital transformation and innovation, industrial companies must leverage what they already have, adopt the best of what's new, and apply that to drive innovation across their products, processes, and people.
Stay tuned for additional LiveWorx 2019 recaps!