Create, collaborate and control

Dave Wilson spoke to Tom Shoemaker, Director, Windchill Solutions Marketing about Windchill 8.0, the latest release of the company’s data management and collaboration software.

For years, PTC has embraced the idea that engineers need to create products, collaborate with one another and control the flow of information around their company.

And over that time, the company has built a range of products that work together to form a complete Product Development System (PDS) to meet those needs. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, for example, enables designers to create products, Windchill ProjectLink allows them to collaborate with one another, while PDM Link allows them to have control over the data they’ve created.

Having been successful at embracing the three C’s for many years, the company certainly hasn’t eschewed the idea in the latest release of its Windchill product release 8.0.

On the contrary, they’ve just made it faster.

“Searching for documents over a LAN is 83% faster, creating/checking-in documents is 67% faster, and rendering product structures is 94% faster,” said Tom Shoemaker, Director, Windchill Solutions Marketing at PTC.

But there’s more to the new release than just speed. Another important issue addressed by the PTC developers relates to the accessibility of information once it’s in the system.

So PTC has provided its users with a new optional module for Windchill that allows common Windchill information and dependencies to be archived and nested.

Windchill Archive, a new optional module of Windchill PDMLink, allows users to collect, store, delete and restore documents and metadata to meet regulatory requirements and improve application or hardware performance.

“This is important to industries such as aerospace and defence or medical products, where regulatory compliance is a mandatory part of doing business,” added Mr. Shoemaker.

And there’s another lifecycle management capability – a set of templates – that allows an administrator to set customised workflows that are suited to the sort of data that the users of the system are working with.

“Sometimes, different workflows need to be set up depending on the data that the user is dealing with – a marketing document and a CAD drawing have different workflow requirements, so we’ve allowed the user to customise the workflow in the new release,” said Mr. Shoemaker.

And there’s also a new set of configuration management tools too that allow users to rapidly develop product variants from existing designs and create a bill of materials from that data that can then be shared with their colleagues in development and manufacturing.

PTC’s also added new capabilities to allow its users to define and classify approved manufacturer lists (AML) and approved vendor lists (AVL) to help purchasing departments make more intelligent sourcing decisions.

And the customer can now come up with his own custom top-level methodology for classifying parts and components in a library that suit his own individual use. Windchill PartsLink Classification and Reuse, now an integral module of Windchill PDMLink, provides the ability to load and manage a classification structure, classify parts, and create a high-speed classification-based search.

“This helps customers reduce product cost by controlling part number proliferation, and lowers development cost,” said Mr. Shoemaker.

Some enhanced visualisation capabilities have also been built into the new release too. Using a new lightweight viewer, it’s possible now for individuals to extract data from a 3D model and call up just the 3D annotation on that model that’s relevant to them.

“In a nutshell, we’ve bypassed the need to create 2D drawings from the 3D data set, “ comments Mr. Shoemaker.

And Windchill Enterprise Systems Integration (ESI), the module for bi-directional integration between Windchill PDMLink and ERP systems, now supports Oracle Manufacturing in addition to SAP.

Windchill ESI synchronises parts, documents, bill of material (BOM) structures, engineering change notifications, and product configurations between disparate enterprise applications. Windchill ESI enables customers to improve the quality of product data, reduce errors and support decisions made during the processes of product development and manufacturing.

A final key point to note is that the company’s Pro/INTRALINK product is no longer a separate module but has been integrated within the Windchill product itself, making the combined product work faster over a LAN and support distributed product development.

By merging the data management capabilities of Pro/INTRALINK with the Web architecture of Windchill, engineers now have all the data management tools at their finger tips and can drag, drop and search right inside a Pro/ENGINEER window.

“An additional benefit is that access to engineering data can be provided to individuals outside the engineering department of a company with no more than a web browser,” concluded Mr. Shoemaker.

Windchill 8.0 will be available later this month and can be licensed through PTC or authorised resellers.