Promoted content: PTC close the design loop with the acquisition of Codebeamer

Hedley Apperly, VP of systems and software engineering at PTC discusses the significance of the software giant's recent acquisition of Intland's Codebeamer

Earlier this year, PTC acquired Intland Software and their Codebeamer ALM suite, significantly broadening and deepening its ALM footprint. The company already has a broad portfolio of offerings; everything from CAD with Creo and Onshape through to PLM with Windchill and Arena, an IoT platform in ThingWorx, and augmented reality with Vuforia.

We recognised an opportunity to move to the next level with the requirements and test capabilities in Codebeamer. It is a flexible, easy-to-use, and modern platform that provides users with requirements, risk, and test management capabilities in advanced engineering industries. Supporting the adoption of agile software management strategies and integrating with best-in-class DevOps and source code management tools, Codebeamer is a future-proof solution used by leading product developers worldwide. In addition, Codebeamer is the go-to ALM tool in various regulated industries, with preconfigured templates and partner integrations for safety-critical innovation.

It has a modern user interface and user experience, which our customers were interested in. It is powerful around areas like agile, so the latest contemporary approaches for design and integration with technologies like GitHub and Jenkins for CI/CD pipelines. It also delivers numerous out-of-the-box templates that offer processes ready validation for critical aerospace and defence DA178 or automotive 226262, which are rigorous industry standards.

Codebeamer's strength is in aerospace, automotive and medical devices, which are all safety-critical industries. Therefore, they must design and build products in line with standards and regulations. This means not only designing mechanical and software specifications but, before the design process begins, understanding the tests that prove you are implementing what you have designed along with traceability throughout the whole lifestyle. This is crucial as it demonstrates that you are building what you said you would build. In addition, it provides an impact analysis so that when changes are made later in the lifecycle, they flow back into the design, and you can check that you are still satisfying requirements. 

Integrating the Codebeamer customer base

With the Codebeamer acquisition, we have inherited another customer base with varying degrees of overlap. Some of these will already use our PLM products and perhaps use other non-PTC products for ALM. Some have used Windchill and Codebeamer, and some will be migrating. Some PTC customers are relatively new to software development; their background is in mechanical products that are becoming smarter with more complex needs.

For example, in the aerospace market, we have a large European aerospace customer who uses it for DA178 for proof of that traceability. Then we have customers in the medical sector, such as the neuromodulation division of Medtronic, one of their largest divisions, who use it to design their medical devices. Finally, in automotive, customers such as BMW and Continental are using it primarily for the collaborated and distributed development of a car. Here OEMs and extended supply chains are all collaborating on the exact requirements to build the same integrated vehicle using our product. When working on projects such as these with numerous challenges, you need a good collaboration tool such as Codebeamer to close the loop.

The future of ALM

Codebeamer rejuvenates the entire PTC ALM portfolio of products. The start of any project is the requirements, and then everything flows through the product's lifecycle, and that is what we are reinforcing and rejuvenating in the PLM offering.

This acquisition was recently completed, so we are in the process of integrating their staff, sales, R&D teams, and marketing into the PTC family, but beyond the people aspect, there is an exciting opportunity to integrate the products. We already have a strongly connected set of tools in engineering digital product traceability, what we call the digital thread across engineering. We use open standards like open services for lifecycle collaboration (OSLC) to connect requirements to model-based systems engineering through to PLM and CAD and then through to test. These are not just PTC tools but in an open way so you can plug in other tools. Bringing Codebeamer into our portfolio so that it can play a part in the PTC digital thread is a crucial part of the integration process.

We are working hard - not just bringing the people in - but starting to look at an integrated product roadmap. As a result, we can now address several requirements from the Codebeamer customer base as part of our integrated portfolio.

We recently hosted a large international Codebeamer user group who are still driving on the functionality they require, such as working sets and three-way merge, but also adding the PTC digital thread into that integration. Part of the key is leading the way on a user interface experience, which is a critical element of the Codebeamer product.

The sustainable performance of a product is growing in importance and is now equally as important as traditional design criteria such as size, weight, cost, and performance. We can build these requirements within our expanded portfolio from the outset. With Codebeamer, we close the loop between requirements, design and test and ensure that requirements can be built into the process upfront, carried through the design and engineering process, and verified through valid tests at the end.

Hedley Apperly is VP of systems and software engineering at PTC