In his opening keynote at Liveworx 2023, on Tuesday, PTC’s CEO, Jim Heppelmann, unveiled a compelling vision for the future of digital transformation. Collaborating with their ecosystem partners, PTC aims to address the pressing challenges businesses face in embracing digital transformation and transitioning to Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. Besides, Heppelmann introduced the exciting topics of the industrial metaverse and their new acquisitions, showcasing how PTC is at the forefront of shaping the new era of digital innovation.
The Liveworx event, hosted by PTC in Boston, was postponed since 2019 due to COVID. Since the last edition, significant advancements have occurred in the realm of digital transformation, as highlighted by Jim Heppelman in his compelling opening keynote at Liveworx 2023:
“Right now, we find ourselves in one of the greatest periods of change for industrial companies that I can recall. And most of it revolves around digital transformation in one form or another.”
In the past, digital transformation focused on achieving faster market entry, lower costs, and higher quality. However, today, he says, it goes beyond that:
“Now, on top of that, there’s a push to reshore to make your products more intelligent, your factories more efficient, to build a more resilient supply chain, and to make your companies and products more sustainable and compliant and to accelerate growth by complementing your products and services.”
Let’s delve into the key takeaways from Heppelmann’s presentation.
New Acquisitions to Support Industrial Companies In Their Digital Transformation Journey
Since 2019, PTC has made substantial investments, exceeding $3 billion, in organic development and acquisitions to help businesses tackle the challenges of digital transformation.
Among PTC’s acquisitions were Onhape (a cloud-native product development platform), Arena (a cloud-native PLM and quality management system (QMS) solution), Codebeamer (an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platform for modern product and software development), and ServiceMax (a field service management platform). The company also launched their software as a service strategy (Saas), which emphasizes its commitment to supporting industrial companies in their digital journey.
These acquisitions have not detracted from PTC’s core business; instead, they have reinforced it, Heppelmann claimed. 3D CAD solution Creo and Windchill PLM software have experienced growth, while IoT platform ThingWorx, connectivity solution Kepware, and AR software Vuforia have matured into robust business solutions aligned with the digital trend. Creo, in particular, has consistently outperformed other major CAD systems in terms of growth rate, Heppelmann said. The company is even launching Creo +.
“Meanwhile Windchill’s explosive growth rate has propelled PTC into the PLM category leadership position with a portfolio that’s growing double the rate of our big PLM competitors. PTC now ranks amongst the fastest growing and most profitable companies in our entire industry.”
PTC has the ambition to enable businesses to achieve greater efficiency, sustainability, and compliance by establishing a digital thread across the entire product life cycle and allowing them to transition to SaaS solutions.
Accelerating Business Growth through Digital Transformation and Agile Supply Chains
Heppelmann recalled the need for speed which is a crucial factor for fast-clock cycle companies, including startups and businesses in rapidly evolving markets. Short development cycles are indeed essential to stay ahead of market trends, especially for companies dependent on software-based products or those dealing with quickly obsolescing electronic components.
By utilizing digital tools, businesses, for example in retail, can achieve just-in-time development and agile supply chains.
VF Corporation, a global leader in apparel, footwear, and accessories, is a prime example of how digital tools drive success in the retail industry. With a vast portfolio of popular brands such as The North Face, Vans, and Timberland, VF Corporation must stay attuned to rapidly changing trends across multiple markets.
“That’s what our Windchill PLM software is all about.”
Embracing digital transformation has empowered VF Corporation to make better and faster decisions based on real-time data, adapting their product designs and strategies to meet evolving consumer preferences.
Enhancing Aftermarket Service through ServiceMax Acquisition
PTC’s recent acquisition of ServiceMax, valued at nearly $1.5 billion, marks a significant milestone in the company’s history. For many industrial companies, Heppelman emphasized, service strategies are integral to driving revenue and profit growth.
“In many cases, the product can generate 10 times more revenue over its life than it did to the initial product sale.”
PTC has long been committed to developing solutions that facilitate efficient service life cycle management (SLM). By adding ServiceMax to their portfolio, the company extends their ability to deliver value to customers.
The alignment between PTC’s CAD, PLM, SLM, IoT, and AR capabilities and ServiceMax’s expertise has already proven fruitful with customers like Schneider Electric. By linking ServiceMax and Windchill, the French group has gained valuable insights into asset-centric service strategies. They have been able to leverage service and IoT data to drive predictive maintenance, unlock new services, and strengthen their design for serviceability visions.
Industrial Metaverse: Driving Converged Experiences for the Physical and Digital World
During his keynote, Heppelmann emphasized another breakthrough innovation that has the power, according to him, to blend the characteristics of the physical and digital realms: the industrial metaverse.
While the term is commonly associated with consumer gaming or social platforms, PTC has focused on applying this concept to industrial companies, to facilitate collaboration between knowledge workers in the digital domain and front-line workers in physical settings like factories.
“Usually this takes time and it might involve airplane tickets and rental cars. But that changes when we apply metaverse concepts. With our new Vuforia industrial metaverse technology, when we encounter a problem in the real world, we can pull out our phone and quickly capture a spatial digital twin or metaverse that digitizes the real world and the factory or your customer site. This happens so quickly we call it a pop-up metaverse.”
The metaverse allows both physically present front-line workers and virtually present knowledge workers to teleport into these immersive digital spaces, have the same real-time experience, access vital information from the digital thread, such as service instructions and parts catalogs, and address issues in real time. The result is faster problem-solving, often surpassing the time it would take to arrange travel.
“Not only does this approach save incredible amounts of time, but it’s also cost-effective and environmentally friendly too.”
Burckhardt Compression, a Swiss-based company specializing in industrial compression systems for energy transportation, is testing the industrial metaverse. With large gas compression systems deployed on tanker ships transporting liquid natural gas, the company faces unique challenges that they say they were able to overcome to enable remote support and intervention.
In an interview with DirectIndustry, Fabrice Billard, CEO of Burckhardt Compression, said:
“We can scan the client’s compressor using a smartphone in just a few minutes and the PTC technology generates a 3D model. We are then able to enter that model along with the client. From there, we can start collaborating together and show the client what they need to do on the compressors in terms of maintenance or if there is a problem. For clients operating LNG carriers with limited maintenance teams, it can be beneficial to have remote expert support available to guide on-site technicians. This ensures that a skilled professional is accessible to provide assistance whenever needed.”
PTC sees the industrial metaverse as a game-changer that can empower companies to overcome geographical constraints, reduce costs, enhance service quality, and distribute knowledge effectively.