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PTC sets out its vision for product lifecycle management and the convergence of AI, IoT, AR and spatial computing at Liveworx 2020

JUN 19, 2020 | Jim Morrish
 
region: ALL sector: ALL Human Machine InterfaceArtificial Intelligence3D Printing and Additive ManufacturingProduct Lifecycle ManagementInternet of Things

On June 9th Jim Heppelmann (CEO, PTC) welcomed attendees to a ‘work-from-home’ edition of PTC’s annual LiveWorx conference. As might be expected, he dedicated much of his introduction to the general ongoing COVID-19 disruption, but also placed this in context of wider disruptions to commerce that have arisen in recent years, ranging from trade wars to Brexit.

Jim made the point that some increased level of global disruption is likely to be the backdrop of commerce for some while to come, and that innovation by businesses and individual ingenuity was key to dealing with this new emerging normal. He also asserted that PTC’s strategy was well aligned with the demands of a more disrupted business environment, and, to be honest, he’s probably right.

His overview focused on four areas that are key in the current climate:

  • Workforce mobility and resilience, including the challenges of home-working for technical workers, and the benefits of PTC’s cloud-based SaaS solutions, supported by the almost prescient acquisition of OnShape (a SaaS CAD/CAM software vendor) in late 2019.
  • Flexible and innovative supply chains, including the benefits of all participants of a supply chain using the same version of the same software to collaborate. (Note: The Airbus A380 is a great example of what can happen when different groups use different design software – fuselage sections made in Germany didn’t fit together with those made in France, causing significant delays to the overall programme). Jim also highlighted the potential to test process automation software in a digital world (modelled environment) which also clearly helps with supply chain flexibility.
  • Front line workforce connectivity and collaboration, where PTC’s Chalk product is an AR-enabled equivalent of Zoom for front line workers allowing remote collaboration by supporting ‘drawing’ on shared AR images. PTC has offered its’ Chalk product for free during the COVID pandemic, and take-up of that offer has been significant. The product has also been used to help transfer knowledge between (for example) an established manufacturer of medical ventilators (Smiths Group) and an automotive manufacturer (GKN) that stepped in to help increase production rates 100x.
  • Remote monitoring of products and factories, a concept which is a boon in these times of social distancing and limited mobility.

He also highlighted the recent launch of version 7.0 of PTC’s Creo CAD/CAM/CAE software, including generative design, multibody design, real time simulation, and support for additive manufacturing. That’s a lot of the hot-buttons of the PLM space to be adding in a single release.

Turning to the future, Jim outlined a vision that he termed ‘Spatial Computing’, focussed on convergence of the digital and physical words supported by AR, IoT, spatial analytics and AI, and new hardware technology such as depth-sensing cameras. Unquestionably, this is the direction of travel in the extended PLM space and Jim characterised AR as integrating people (workers) into the digital space in much the same way the IoT integrates devices. There was also an interesting demonstration of the use of AR to programme a robot (an IoT connected device), so that the robot would trace a route drawn on an AR interface. Expect many more developments along these lines as more companies explore the intersection between AR and IoT.

2020

2019

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