Why PTC thinks that Smart, Connected Products will transform your business … and your PLM
Verdi Ogewell posted on December 09, 2014 |
Where is PTC heading? There's a lot of talk about Smart Connected Products, the Internet of Things, ...

Where is PTC heading? There's a lot of talk about Smart Connected Products, the Internet of Things, M2M, SLM and their new solutions ThingWorx and Servigistics. There is less talk about CAD and PLM. Have the priorities changed?

”On the contrary”, says Robert Gremley, PTC's Executive Vice President (EVP) in this TV report. Gremley is responsible for the IoT and Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) activities. He says, ”CAD and PLM are absolutely rock solid critical to PTC. What we've done is to add this paradigm-shifting dimension of Smart Connected Products to CAD and PLM.”

”You don't really have the true view of the lifecycle of a product unless you can continue to see it while it is in use”, asserts Gremley, explaining that PLM didn't ”afford us that opportunity until the IoT came along”. Gathering data from products while they are in use will allow product development teams to answer key questions such as, ”What features and functions that we designed are actually being used?” and ”Is the quality that we thought we designed into the product achieving results in the field?”

It's an elegant explanation and for the 1700+ participants who attended the recent PTC Live event in Stuttgart, Germany, the message was: information technology is revolutionizing products and these new smart products have unleashed a new era of competition. To help its customers, PTC aims to provide the IT tools needed to compete including solutions like Creo, Windchill, ThingWorx and Axeda.

None of the other PLM developers have so clearly committed to solutions for the Internet of Things and M2M (machine-to-machine) and linked those activities back to the engineering work flow in the way that PTC has done.

The reasoning from PTC goes something like this: Smart connected products and the Internet of Things (IoT) provide a shift that affects how products are produced, sold and used. Adding microprocessors, software, operating systems, and network switch ports to the traditional mechanical and electrical content changes not only the patterns of use, but also the way we organize product development processes.

”For many years M2M was a solution looking for a problem”, Robert Gremley said to the PLM TV News team. ”Then all of a sudden something happened and over the last couple of years companies have really started to get their products connected.”

It's no longer a vision, it isn't something about to happen tomorrow. It's already here. ”Our customers have started through either proofs of concept, pilot projects or now actually into production to get thousands of their products connected to the IoT.”

The three core elements, according to Heppelmann and Porter

So, what's the definition of Smart Connected Products? PTC's CEO, Jim Heppelman Heppelmann wrote a cover article in Harvard Business Review (November 2014, written together with Professor Michael E. Porter of the Biskop William Lawrence University) that explains the three core elements:

  • Physical components comprise the product's mechanical and electrical parts. In a car, for example, these include the engine block, tires, and batteries.
  • Smart components comprise the sensors, microprocessors, data storage, controls, software and, typically, an embedded operating system and enhanced user interface. In the car example it would include things like the engine control unit, anti-lock breaking system, rain-sensors with automated wipers, and touch screen displays.
  • The connectivity components comprise the ports, antennae, and protocols enabling wired or wireless connection with the product. There are three forms of connectivity: One-to-one – an individual product that connects to the user, the manufacturer or another product. One-to-many: A central system connected to many product simultaneously. Many-to many: Multiple products that connects to many other types of products.

PTC’s CEO and President, Jim Heppelmann

But the big news is really not the IoT in itself – that is simply a mechanism for transmitting the information, asserts Robert Gremley. The more fundamental fact is the changing nature of things, ”This term, IoT, is helpful when you break it apart a little bit. But the big step function change, where the real action is happening, is in the things, the products. That's also why the concept of Smart Connected products is so interesting to so many companies. It's their opportunity to be able to create brand new products, capabilities and business models.”

The feedback loops that revolutionize PTC's PLM and CAD business

The CAD and PLM tools still play significant roles. PTCs Mike Campbell, EVP of CAD, talks about closing the lifecycle management loop. ”True”, he says, ”the feedback loops are revolutionizing PTC's CAD and PLM business.” One example from CAD is about leveraging the Smart Connected Products that have been developed and deployed into the field. ”You know, when engineers design products they design to an idealization; they define requirements and then they use those to drive constraints on the design that they think are right. But many of us have experiences where they are not right. Now we are able to close the feedback loop back to engineering. Our vision is to bring that information from the field directly back to the engineer's desktops.”

Brian Shepherd, PTC’s EVP of PLM (to the left) and
Mike Campbell, EVP and responsible for

Another interesting fact according to Brian Shepherd, PTCs EVP of PLM, is the ability to orchestrate parallell development tracks for mechanical, electronical and software development using Windchill and the Integrity solution, ”This is a great solution for systems engineering, where we can provide an infrastructure that companies needs to coordinate the business processes of both hardware and software development.”


From the ThingWorx CASE BOOK: StreetScooter and Getinge Group

The CEO of German StreetScooter developer, Dr Peter Burggräf, says that the services and maintenance measures of their electrical logistics vehicle wouldn't be possible without the smart connected concept, ”We collect all data, like battery information, data from rain-sensors, temperatures e t c. Then we analyze the data and use them to provide services and remote maintenance. The great thing about tools like PTC's ThingWorx is that we do all of this in real time and act upon it directly”.


StreetScooters CEO, Dr Peter Burggräf:
"An electrical vehicle with real time connection"

Medical device developer and manufacturer, Geting Group's Sören Stakeman, agrees on the benefits, ”We've been working with ThingWorx and Axeda (a complementary Cloud based IoT solution, bought by PTC earlier this year) for several years in order to connect to the Cloud and develop services. It's been quite a journey where we've built customer portals, service portals, integration to our documentation systems, and now we're moving into the predictive world, where we for instance can say when a pump inside a piece of equipment will fail”. He adds that their customers, most of whom are hospitals ”are shouting for having connected produducts”. Why? Watch this 15 minute TV-report to find out.


In this report you'll meet:

* CASE STORY 1: Sören Stakemann, product Line Manager, Getinge Group (Medical Devices)

* CASE STORY 2: German developer of the Streetscooter electrical logistics vehicle, Dr Peter Burggräfer

* PTC ThingWorx's Thomas Svensson , Senior Vice President & General Manager, EMEA, who explains why business is developing well for ThingWorx

* Fredrik Östbye – Vice President Business Manager at Telenor Connexion, is a provider of SIM card technologies and solutions for connecting M2M via the Cloud.

* PTCs EVP of IoT and SLM, Robert Gremley

* Mike Campbell, PTC, EVP of CAD

* Brian Shepherd , PTC, EVP of PLM

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