PTC Windchill 11 set to boost IoT developers

PTC’s lifecycle management software, Windchill 11, will be equipped with a number of features to enable users to more easily develop smart connected products. It is hoped its latest release will be an enabling and uniting force on the embryonic Internet of Things (IoT) movement, also known as Industry 4.0.

A critical part of Windchill 11 is the inclusion of the acquired Thingworx technology, which allows data from physical products, web-based resources, and enterprise software systems to deliver access, insight, and ultimately drive value from the acquired data.

An example is opt-in analytics and machine learning capability known as ColdLight, which will take data and look for subtle insights in to its behaviour.

“This is the first time a customer can give us their data and we can look for trends and patterns within it,” said CEO Jim Heppelmann. “It will show that when the data is trending a certain way, for example, it will probably lead to ‘this’ or ‘that’ outcome.

“The algorithm learns, so it is something that is only going to improve over time.”

PTC’s Windchill is used by more than 1.5 million users around the world, and it is hoped Windchill 11 will encourage many of those users to develop ‘smarter’ products. Early adopters include Carl Zeiss, which has moved away from its break and fix repair model, to one where it now contacts customers to advise of problems.

Marcus Jacob, a service product director at Zeiss said: “In the past, we would have to wait for customers to call us to say there is a problem. Now we call them before there is a problem, and we can sort it out in five minutes by advising them over the phone to change a setting or something like that.”

PTC is hoping this ‘build it and they will come’ approach will be vindicated over the next few years by the market swelling as more companies drive value through adopting the ‘smart’ connected machine to machine approach.

Windchill will also offer the latest standards, secure over the internet collaboration, and platforms to develop customised apps around the latest appsOSLC standards.

“Make no mistake, this is a slippery slope and we’re all sliding down it,” said Heppelmann. “It marks the biggest metamorphosis the industry has seen in decades.”