PLM This Week: Dassault Systèmes and HTC Bring VR into Product Development

Plus other PLM news from IFS, Centric, SAP and PTC.

Dassault Systèmes and HTC Bring VR into Product Development

While virtual reality (VR) has been redefining the way we look entertainment for a while, this technology is now also starting to find its uses in product development.

Dassault Systèmes, which prides itself on always being on the cutting edge, recently announced that users of the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform now can strap on the HTC Vive Business Edition and interact with the system in a virtual reality environment.

In a press release, Dassault states that users such as industrial designers, mechanical engineers, marketers, project managers, and manufacturing planners can plug into an HTC Vive head-mounted display and work at their desktop with natural navigation in a stereoscopic virtual reality environment.

This new method of accessing, viewing and exploring a native virtual model on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform makes it easier to understand an object’s depth, solidness and design in a way that cannot be achieved with a computer screen alone.

“The Vive Business Edition allows Dassault Systèmes’ customers to use virtual reality at a large scale at low cost,” said Hervé Fontaine, vice president of virtual reality enterprise and business development at HTC. “With the Vive’s unique laser tracking system providing sub-millimeter precision and very low latency, it is an ideal fit for Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA application users who can now check their work in real time as they modify their design.”

IFS Completes MXI Acquisition

Swedish business software developer IFS announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Canadian aviation maintenance specialist MXI Technologies.

The company’s solutions are primarily used within commercial airline and defense companies for third party maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations. MXI’s software is touted as a “best-of-breed solution” when it comes to support and services.

According to IFS, the software will continue to be sold and marketed as a stand-alone solution, but it will also be integrated as a module in the IFS Applications ERP suite.

“IFS combined with MXI will be consolidated as world-leading aviation maintenance among operators, MROs and OEMs,” said Alastair Sorbie, CEO of IFS.

IFS, which was acquired by private equity firm IQT last year, has stepped up its own pace of acquisitions. The MXI deal was announced on December 13 of last year, and while the amount is undisclosed, IFS acquisitions and strategy chief Fredrik vom Hofe stated in an interview with Reuters that this was the largest deal since 2003.

MXI operates globally, but is based in Ottawa, Canada, and has over 265 employees. Its software suite, Maintenix, is designed to help companies in the aviation industry take maximum advantage of their assets through standardized, optimized and predictive maintenance.

MXI’s global customer base includes everything from small and medium sized businesses to large, global corporations with several thousand users. The company’s most well-known customers include Southwest Airlines, Air France, KLM, Qantas, China Airlines, LATAM, Icelandair, NetJets, Boeing, BAE Systems, Saab, Pratt & Whitney and a number of air forces around the world.

“By taking advantage of MXI’s deep industry knowledge, IFS supports new and existing customers to streamline their operations. The acquisition is in line with IFS’s growth strategy and goal to become the world’s leading provider of business solutions to global clients in the construction, service and product-focused industries,” said Sorbie.

Centric Releases Version 6 of PLM Suite

Silicon Valley-based PLM developer Centric Software has released a large upgrade to its cloud-hosted PLM solution for retail and fashion companies. Version 6.0 includes major, broad-sweeping innovations, with more than 100 new features being added in the last six months.

The new version focuses on three areas: scalability and performance, decision making analytics and personalization of the interface.

Some of the new features include:

  • Radically improved performance scaling, which makes it possible to manage more than 10,000 users on the system, while also storing terabytes of active data in the cloud — reportedly without negative effects on performance or user experience.
  • A new analytics tool called “Slicer,” which lets users analyze seasons’ or years’ worth of information to answer questions about financial and supplier performance, costs or other complex queries requiring significant “what-iffing” and number crunching.
  • An interface makeover that changes the solution’s look and feel, adding in new branding and personalization options, dashboards with widgets and charts to digest information at a glance, mass editing features to minimize clicks and many other improvements that make the solution easier to use.

“All innovations to Centric PLM are driven by interactions with our customers,” explained Ron Watson, VP of products at Centric Software. “Our Customer Advisory Board gives us insight into their strategic and operational challenges and, along with input from our customer innovation partners, we use this valuable feedback to guide our roadmap. We are proud to say that our new release was recently given their enthusiastic stamp of approval.”

SAP Launches Quick-Start Program for IoT

As previously reported, enterprise software giant SAP is investing heavily in the Internet of Things (IoT) — and we’re not talking about pocket change.

According to SAP, two billion euros will be spent on helping companies and the public sector take advantage of sensors, smart devices and large amounts of data, which can be turned into new business opportunities with the Internet of Things.

As part of this effort, SAP has launched “Leonardo,” which is a quick-start program meant to connect people and processes with intelligent devices.

“Leonardo,” the company said in a statement, “makes it easy and profitable for businesses of all types to get started with creating innovations for the Internet of Things.”

The background to the SAP initiative is the explosive growth of data resulting from IoT and Industry 4.0 ventures in the world’s industries. This is a train that the German ERP giant does not intend to miss.

The company has therefore put up a five-year budget for large investments in innovation, acquisitions, and a network of SAP research labs focused on the IoT. The plan is to accelerate the pace of innovation in the SAP solution portfolio, increase sales and marketing and to expand the service, support and interaction. With this venture, SAP also hopes to expand its network of IoT partners and start-ups – a market with an estimated turnover of 250 billion Euros by 2020.

“With billions of connected devices, we can transform society, economy and the environment, and SAP HANA is the computer platform that opens these possibilities of the Internet of Things. Today, we have an extensive investment that allows our customers to benefit from being connected in real time,” said SAP’s CEO, Bill McDermott.

This project has already resulted in a few changes to SAP’s existing IoT portfolio. This includes several packages combining adaptive applications with applications for the analysis of large amounts of data, as well as connectivity for a variety of business and industry scenarios – everything from products, devices and infrastructures that communicate among themselves to fleets, markets and even humans.

Full Forklift Integration

An interesting example is a case coordinated by the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), which incorporates positioning data and forklifts.

In a test project called “Track and Trace,”, forklifts could be followed in real-time – with a precision measured in centimeters – while recording their position in large warehouses, airplane hangars and industrial premises.

The Bosch-founded start-up, “Zeno Track,” follows the trucks with the help of cameras, GPS, laser scanners, radio and connected motion sensors. Data on the current location is supplied through Bosch’s IoT cloud to the SAP “Insight Vehicle Application,” which is a control system for vehicle fleets.

The bottom line is that with the help of this battery of products, software platforms and services, it is possible to intelligently manage the trucks in accordance with plans and maintenance schedules. According to SAP, this will reduce costs and increases efficiency.

Leonardo Set to Capture Smaller, Agile Actors

While SAP has traditionally been seen as a vendor focused on large enterprise solutions, Leonardo is being touted as something completely different.

The idea is to lower the barriers to entry to the IoT market, making it easier for companies to take the first steps towards implementing IoT technology. The solution can be described as an introductory offer for a quick-start program with ready scenarios, all at fixed costs.

With prototypes containing complete business cases for full-scale IoT strategies, and further proliferation and transparent fixed costs for software and service during the first year, Leonardo hopes to lower the threshold for the development journey.

SAP will hold its first global SAP Leonardo events and showcase the latest innovations in the Internet of Things and effective business strategies at CAPE EUROPE, 11-12 July, 2017 in Frankfurt.

ThingWorx Gets Top Marks in IoT Benchmark Report

PTC is seeing more and more evidence that ThingWorx, the company’s IoT solution, has taken a leading position in the market.

Analyst Experton Group recently released its latest report, “Industry 4.0/Internet of Things Vendor Benchmark 2017,” where for the second year in a row PTC is noted as one of two leaders in the highest “Leaders” quadrant.

The Experton report identifies and analyzes 15 providers of IoT platforms. Of these 15 providers, Experton ranks six of them as being a “strong market player with very attractive product and service offerings.” These providers are all included in the Leaders quadrant; but that being said, PTC is one of two top-rated providers.

Experton writes about the ThingWorx platform, which is central to PTC’s IoT approach, stating that “it offers quick and easy ways to create IoT applications and dashboards, without requiring deep IT skills or long training times.”

The report further notes that PTC’s solution consists of modules that enable quick app design, good connectivity and also has capabilities for machine learning, augmented reality and integration with leading cloud platforms.”

Moreover, Experton Group ranks PTC as the leader in the “Industrial Big Data Analytics.”

One of PTC’s advantages in this is that the company, with its PLM solutions, is much closer to the product development and production areas than any other IT provider, said Arnold Vogt, senior adviser at Experton Group.

In case you’re interested in learning more about PTC, watch this space. We’re currently in the process of editing a face-to-face interview that Verdi Ogewell did with PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann. The interview focuses on PTC’s IoT bet, the new subscription-based business model and what it could mean for PTC, as well as a potential Ace up Heppelmann’s sleeve.