Building products and processes at the same time

Widely viewed as a product life-cycle pioneer, PTC's Pro/ENGINEER software for mechanical design also is seen as the forerunner of today's high-powered and feature-rich management platforms. Given the merger mania in the PLM sector, PTC's 2005 acquisition of manufacturing process management vendor Polyplan Technologies looks like a precursor to the digital manufacturing era that's taking shape...

By Staff July 1, 2007

Widely viewed as a product life-cycle pioneer, PTC’s Pro/ENGINEER software for mechanical design also is seen as the forerunner of today’s high-powered and feature-rich management platforms.

Given the merger mania in the PLM sector, PTC’s 2005 acquisition of manufacturing process management vendor Polyplan Technologies looks like a precursor to the digital manufacturing era that’s taking shape today.

The company continues to innovate. Recently, PTC launched Windchill MPMLink, a module of Windchill 9.0, the company’s product development and collaboration suite. The idea behind MPMLink is simple: Users develop bills of material and manufacturing processes from the same product information being defined by designers and engineers.

“The link between product and process design seems obvious, but historically the two camps have existed—at least from a software standpoint—separately,” says Jeffrey Holjo, an analyst with Boston-based AMR Research .

The benefits of this approach—sometimes called Integrated Product and Process Development—are shorter time-to-market and greater accuracy in shared information.

MPMLink also offers connectivity with both ERP solutions and manufacturing execution systems (MES), like those from Camstar .

“Digital manufacturing with Windchill MPMLink—synchronized with Camstar solutions—allows customers to pursue concurrent product and manufacturing process development to greatly improve time-to-market, and ensure that quality is built in,” says Alex Mackenzie, VP of product management, manufacturing and service solutions, PTC. “Camstar was chosen because of its excellent reputation in life sciences and high-tech.”

Product document management is a high-growth part of PTC’s business. Its Arbortext publishing software suite streamlines enterprise publishing and content management through XML authoring and dynamic publishing capabilities. Yet while document management may not seem as compelling a business as, say, advanced simulation, the stakes can be surprisingly high for manufacturers. PTC estimates that document management costs can amount to as much 2 percent of revenue at the largest, most complex manufacturers. Boeing, for instance, generates up to 310 millions of pages per year to describe its portfolio of 13,000 aircraft.

Manufacturers large and small use PTC’s Arbortext. Toyota develops engines using PTC PLM for the core information, and Arbortext to collect, edit, and publish information for mechanics to work on the engines; while Austrian lawnmower manufacturer VIKING uses Arbortext to publish manuals, spare-parts catalogs, and repair guides.

To promote product information security, PTC has integrated Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management ES software with Pro/ENGINEER with the goal of applying persistent document security to product models, spec sheets, and design documents of all types, both inside and outside the firewall.

PTC reported revenues of $855 million last year, equivalent to 19-percent growth over the previous year. It’s been suggested that an expanded relationship with IBM and other partners was a major growth contributor. The PTC-IBM partnership is focused on specific markets and solution areas. Several years ago, the company set a target of $1 billion in revenue and 20-percent margins by 2008. Based on its continuing innovation and several high-profile wins, PTC seems well on its way to hitting those targets.