from Digital transformation: PTC takes stock of new products and first year with partner Rockwell
by Anasia D’mello
The keynote address at PTC’s LiveWorx19 event in Boston, Massachusetts is always a tour de force by the company’s ebullient president & CEO, Jim Heppelmann, and today’s conference opening did not disappoint.
As he likes to remind his audience, the PTC boss comes from a CAD (computer-aided design) and PLM (product lifecycle management) background, so for him the marriage with newer technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR) is made in heaven.
As Jeremy Cowan reports from Boston, today’s launch was a blend of tech-rock show, a catch-up with friends and partners, and a little bit PTC victory rally. If Heppelmann could fly through it in a barrel roll he surely would. He had the attention of 6,500 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Centre (not to mention another 4,000 streaming the event worldwide) as he talked them through projects with Volvo Trucks (using Creo Simulation) and air & gas handling firm Howden (with ThingWorx and Microsoft Azure IoT), followed by a chat high on a gantry with Blake Moret, CEO of US industrial giant Rockwell Automation on the progress of their 1-year-old partnership.
The first example Heppelmann showed of work being done with industrial partners was the task of minimising the mass of Volvo Trucks’ engine mounts, without compromising performance. The truck maker is using Creo 5.0, PTC’s CAD system to validate designs and try new design formats. Artificial intelligence (AI) then applies simulations to the designs to optimise criteria.
The audience was shown a staffer hard at work at his desk (also perched on high), from where he was achieving an engine mount design that is 50% lighter than the current version. Creo Simulation Live confirms whether he has in any way compromised the design. The engineer moved on to show in Creo the engine digitally installed in its Volvo mount. Says Heppelmann, “I remember it used to take days in the queue to get the attention of the Simulation Team. This takes the pressure off simulation analysts who no longer need to get involved in the design’s early stages and can use higher suites to test later design stages.”
Generate, Iterate, Validate
These are the three stages today; generate, iterate, validate. But every new generation of design brings new complexities, as Heppelmann points out. He has been told by Volvo that there are 1080 design variations possible in their combined truck range, with 260,000 trucks built in 2018. So, IoT and AR need Product Lifecycle Management (PLM); the new generation offers Product Variability Management. As Heppelmann asks rhetorically, “How can you have an accurate digital twin if you don’t know what’s in the engine?”
Training is also impacted; training on engine inspection procedures can take up to five weeks. Heppelmann, using an iPad, showed how it is now possible to show someone with no training to check Volvo engines’ cable routing, that clips and zip ties are all in place, or how paint protections caps on an air compressor are in place. It’s about quality as well as cost control, he insists. These are said to be the two key reasons why […]
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