The Inside Scoop on PTC Windchill 11

***By guest author Christa Prokos***

Recently, PTC introduced the next release of PTC Windchill. PTC Windchill 11 promises to be “the first PLM platform to deliver groundbreaking new technological advancements in smart, connected product development data and processes.”

But if you’re already using PTC to manage your product lifecycle data and processes, you are likely wondering what’s changed and how will PTC Windchill 11 impact your day-to-day business.

In this interview with Jill Newberg, senior director of PLM market development, I asked her to explain what PTC means by “smart and connected,” what major enhancements we’ll see, and whether you’ll need hardware upgrades to support it.

This is the first major release of PTC Windchill in several years. How important is it?

PTC Windchill 11 is such an important release because, as a product, it embodies our whole corporate strategy of taking a fresh look at solutions that our customers need to create products in today’s Internet of Things era.

We’ve enhanced PTC Windchill 11 with new features that enable Product Lifecycle Management that is smart, connected, complete and flexible—unlike any other PLM software in the marketplace. This means our customers now have access to the latest technology in PLM to succeed not only with their product development strategies today, but with their evolving product development strategies of tomorrow.

PTC Windchill 11 is prepared to leverage the IoT when our customers are ready to offer smart, connected products – if they don’t already.

What do you mean when you say PTC Windchill 11 PLM is “smart”?

When we say “smart” we’re referring to the new role-based apps now available in PTC Windchill 11. They’re like the apps that you use on your smartphone or tablet today: instant, intuitive apps that can be downloaded and used without training.

We built them because access to product data is important to our customers. It’s their most valuable asset. The role-based apps in PTC Windchill 11 “democratize” product information beyond just the users who create it. Any stakeholder who needs to access or impact product development data or processes can now do so with a role-based app designed specifically for the task they need to accomplish.

What do you mean when you say PTC Windchill 11 is “connected”? Hasn’t it always been networked? How is this different?

When we say PTC Windchill 11 is “connected”, we are referring to its IoT-enabled capabilities; “connected” PLM is another way to look at it. We’ve embedded our ThingWorx IoT technology into PTC Windchill 11.

It’s really a breakthrough in PLM because, in truth, traditional PLM has never fulfilled its promise of managing the complete “lifecycle” data from a product – since the product lifecycle includes use and service. Think of it this way: after a product is manufactured and leaves the factory, the longest phase of its lifecycle begins – the use phase. Information about its performance in the field is rarely accessible. Its detailed, evolving definition suddenly goes dark, and valuable insight about the product’s service and use rarely makes its way back into product development organizations to improve the work they do.

But all that changes with connected PLM in PTC Windchill 11. Connecting to the product’s data in the field – its performance, its quality, its failures and successes, how it was used, and all of the environmental and operational conditions influencing these factors – is now possible in today’s IoT era.

So with PTC Windchill 11, product stakeholders can receive complete lifecycle data – including data from the service and use phases. 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 better match usage patterns, and redesign parts or systems to improve product performance and quality. These are just some examples from a long list of benefits that also includes reductions in product development costs and time-to-market.

What other major enhancements made it into this release?

PTC Windchill 11 features a new user interface and improved product structure capabilities for BOM management and BOM transformation, including greater access to 3D information.

These enhancements are part of what we refer to as the “complete” aspect of PTC Windchill 11. Today, more and more companies need to manage a complete product definition, including electronic, mechanical, and software. And this definition needs to be understood across all disciplines contributing to a product’s development. Also, the product definition needs to be understood and viewed in all of its different available configurations and variants required for specific customers and markets. And it must be understood across the organization, by teams that include engineering, manufacturing, and services.

We took all of this into account when we made enhancements to PTC Windchill 11 so that users can manage the complete digital product definition with a multidimensional, multidisciplinary BOM that extends back into requirements management processes and out into service and use.

Can you describe what’s new in Search?

The best way to describe the user experience with our new search features is that it is more like today’s popular web, e-commerce style approach. Powerful, multifaceted new PTC Windchill Search combines PartsLink Classification search with traditional attribute searching for a seamless experience.

“Facets” are those slider bars and additional classification elements that appear on the left-hand side of the screen when you search on popular ecommerce websites. You use them to narrow down the results of a search – especially when there are too many for you to view all at once – so you can find just what you are looking for. These facets are extremely smart in PTC Windchill 11: they change based on how the search results are classified, so you can narrow your search down by the characteristics of the item you’re searching for.

Finally, they are extremely intuitive and interactive. Easy check boxes and sliders let you narrow down the results of your search interactively, just like a familiar e-commerce experience does, to narrow in on just the item you are looking for. Sometimes, you know just the things “around” that item – not the item itself – so you can see context now to understand if you’ve found the result you need or not.

How likely is it that users will need new hardware and servers for this release?

You probably don’t need any new hardware at all. This is where the “flexible” part of PTC Windchill 11 comes in. We are really excited to offer our customers flexibility in how they license the product and in how they deploy it. From a licensing perspective we now have the ability to provide subscription licensing, which allows our customers to either scale up or down depending upon their needs. And from a deployment perspective we now provide a managed services, cloud and true SaaS offering which is very impactful to not only our enterprise-size customers, but for small to mid-size businesses who have been looking for solutions like this.

To find out more about PTC Windchill 11, watch PTC’s recorded telecast. Hear what customers are saying about the new release, and learn how PTC Windchill benefits products across all industries, by watching the PTC Windchill 11 Launch Telecast event, originally broadcast December 15.