Smart and Connected: A Breakthrough in Product Lifecycle Management

Written By: Christa Prokos
  • 11/18/2015

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The Internet of Things is capturing the attention of manufacturers across all industries. Not only does it open the way to new competitive business models and product differentiation, but it shakes up the very foundation of traditional approaches to product development.

What’s needed now is a modern approach to product lifecycle management

Traditional PLM can only support the early phases of the product lifecycle – design and development. Without IoT connectivity, this is all that can really be expected. It allows teams to collaborate on a digital version of the product (CAD, Bill of Materials, and other valuable data) that gets handed over to a factory to become a physical product. But the management of the product’s lifecycle stops there.

After the product is sold, the longest phase of the lifecycle begins – the use phase. During a time when tremendous insights could be gathered, the manufacturer can’t “see” how the product is doing out in the hands of the customer.

There’s a visibility gap between the digital world and the physical world. A customer has to call, or feedback has to come in for the manufacturer to gain knowledge about the product’s real-world performance and quality. This limitation impacts stakeholders across the company in product design and development, manufacturing, sales and marketing, customer operations, and after-sales services.

In today’s connected world there has to be a better way

And this is where PTC comes in. At PTC LiveWorx Europe this week, the company announced the release of PTC Windchill 11, the industry’s first PLM system purpose-built for the IoT era.

Windchill is used by more than 1.5 million users around the world to manage and optimize their product development and lifecycle processes. Now Windchill 11 offers a PLM system that can bridge the digital world and the physical world. It introduces new connectivity between products and the people who design, develop, test, build and service them, effectively closing the lifecycle loop with IoT data captured in real time during the use phase of products.

ThingWorx is the IoT platform that enables Windchill 11 to integrate data from physical products, web-based resources, and enterprise software systems to deliver valuable insights.

By gathering data from products while they are in use, manufacturers can answer important questions such as, ”What features and functions are actually being used?” and “Is the product performing up to par with our quality standards?”

“We are tremendously excited about the release of PTC Windchill 11 that combines IoT connectivity with improved PLM capabilities,” said Kevin Wrenn to an audience at PTC LiveWorx Europe. “For our customers this means that your product data, arguably the most valuable asset in your company, is now accessible to more roles across the organization in a way that is easier and more intuitive to use, to drive better decisions and get your products to market faster.”

Wrenn, who is the divisional general manager of the PLM segment at PTC, took the audience through an overview of Windchill 11.

“Designing, managing, and leveraging smart, connected products is quickly becoming a reality for so many of the customers PTC works with,” said Wrenn. “With this release we wanted to address the key requirements for today’s PLM initiatives.”

Windchill 11 is smart, connected, complete, and flexible

In summary, it delivers new technological advancements in product development data and processes, including:

  • Smart – Role-based apps that provide access to relevant product information based on who you are and what you need to accomplish; new multi-faceted search capabilities that allow you to quickly filter and find specific product information; and PTC has incorporated OSLC standards for greater collaboration and connection to other systems.
  • Connected – IoT data can be captured in real time when products are in use to close the lifecycle loop. Product planning, design, and quality teams can now learn from a product’s operational behavior to improve features that customers use most, configure offerings to usage patterns, and redesign parts or systems to improve quality, for example.
  • Complete – Users can manage the complete digital product definition with a complete, multidimensional Bill of Materials that extends back into requirements processes and out into service.
  • Flexible – New deployment offerings that include SaaS and fully hosted PLM Cloud, and a subscription model that enables you to scale up or down as program and project needs change.

Product lifecycle management no longer has to end with the engineering team. PTC Windchill 11 extends valuable product data to more of the organization. And, in an industry first, PLM can now manage smart, connected product data from the field to drive better, faster improvements to a product’s quality and design.

“Our customers can create smart, connected products, put them out in the marketplace and truly achieve the idea of closed-loop lifecycle management,” concluded Wrenn. “It’s a breakthrough in PLM.”

  • CAD
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • PLM
  • Connected Devices

About the Author

Christa Prokos

Christa Prokos is a marketing manager at PTC. She researches and writes about the latest business trends and technologies impacting manufacturers, including the Internet of Things and Product Lifecycle Management. Christa has worked as a high tech marketing and communications professional since 2000. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChristaProkos.