We’re all familiar with the pressure of doing more with less, in less time. Few can escape it. Least of all PTC manufacturing customers with the added challenge of delivering “smart, connected products” — an industry term for products that use software and sensors to control complex functions and behaviors.
They look to PTC for solutions that help manage the complexity. Many use PTC’s Integrity Lifecycle Manager ALM (application lifecycle management) platform to support agile product design processes.
Integrity Lifecycle Manager gives manufacturers a holistic, tool-agnostic way to change-manage all the assets that comprise a system, system of systems or connectivity between systems. In doing so, it simplifies hardware and software integration; and also streamlines collaboration across product lines as well as software, electrical and mechanical engineering roles.
PTC is constantly building on the capabilities of Integrity Lifecycle Manager to enable manufacturers to improve these methodologies to control costs and be first to market with the advanced, software-driven features and conveniences customers want. I recently got some insight on the latest and most significant of these enhancements from PTC Vice President of Product Management, Doug Akers.
Our talk centered on improvements that debuted last fall in Integrity Lifecycle Manager v. 10.6 and will be extended this spring in version 10.7 and subsequent releases. Here are highlights from our conversation:
Karen: Let’s start with the big picture. What factors make the design and delivery of smart connected products more complex than products built with mostly mechanical components?
Doug: Building and releasing products made up of multiple systems and subsystems requires lots of code, lots of parts, and lots of people and partners across different business and engineering functions. All of this increases the potential for production bottlenecks and missteps that can affect schedules, quality and cost. Time is also a factor. The pressure to frequently push out new, more sophisticated features and functions is a constant.
Karen: What product design capabilities do PTC manufacturing customers look for to address these complexities?
Doug: Top priorities are maximizing developer productivity; reusing product development assets in smarter ways; and fully integrating all aspects of engineering to achieve what we call “continuous integration and release.” These are the factors that most impact cost, time to market, as well as product quality and performance.
Karen: How do these priorities fit into the Integrity Lifecycle Manager product roadmap?
Doug: They drive it. The latest enhancements in v. 10.6, and the new capabilities scheduled for release this spring in v. 10.7, are specifically designed to help our customers meet these priorities.
Karen: What are the most notable, new features in Integrity Lifecycle Manager?
Doug: Integrity Lifecycle Manager v. 10.6 features a number of new configuration management capabilities like time-based viewing and retrieval of source code and requirements. Other highlights are support for systems-based modeling through our recent acquisition of Atego; and performance and scalability improvements for end-users across the product lifecycle—from developers to systems engineers to business analysts.
Karen: Describe briefly how the configuration management improvements introduced in Integrity Lifecycle Manager v. 10.6 drive many of the gains achieved through continuous integration and higher productivity.
Doug: Integrity Lifecycle Manager v. 10.6 provides the ability to access, version, baseline and submit changes to requirements, test and other assets as one logical change — like has been done with source code for decades. This helps collaborators in different roles work more efficiently by raising the abstraction level of complex tasks. It also simplifies authoring and comparing versions of authored assets.
Karen: Give an example of how a PTC manufacturing customer is implementing the latest Integrity Lifecycle Manager enhancements to achieve a specific, tactical goal.
Doug: HUAWEI, a large global provider of connectivity devices and technology, is an example of a customer that’s implementing continuous integration and delivery to do more with the same amount of resources in less time. They perform software builds on an incredibly frequent basis, but don’t always want to identify them up front as a meaningful baseline within the repository. We’re working with them to implement new, time-based SCM capabilities that enable continuous access to any software configuration at any time—even configurations that are never progressed in the lifecycle. They can go “back in time” to baseline configurations, those that pass all build and validation processes, when that configuration becomes meaningful. We’re also helping them integrate new functionality to support private operations and better manage of work in progress.
Karen: How do the latest and upcoming releases of Integrity Lifecycle Manager address manufacturers’ cost and productivity challenges.
Doug: The bigger data repositories grow, the more costly they are to manage. Because not every change to an asset requires promotion to the repository, we’ve made a number of improvements to enable users to work more productively with data residing in the file system. These include support for storing and viewing bulk data in file systems and better allocation management tools. The goal is to make sure all contributors can work with code in a meaningful way without cluttering the repository — whether in isolation or in collaboration.
Karen: Beyond this spring, what will be the focus of future enhancements to the Integrity Lifecycle Manager ALM solution?
Doug: Going forward, our plan is to really focus on the needs of software engineers to help them better execute every-day tasks. Expect to see continued refinement of bulk operations, enhanced commands and utilities, and change and configuration management capabilities. Our priority is making sure that the improvements we make to Integrity Lifecycle Manager and all PTC solutions are in lockstep with customer needs to do more, faster, with less.
For more information on Integrity Lifecycle Manager, visit: PTC.com/go/Integrity