James Heppelmann, President & CEO
The era of Industry 4.0 is gradually dawning upon the manufacturing industry, augmenting the adoption of smart and connected devices. Defined and driven by the internet of things, Industry 4.0 allows cyber-physical systems to monitor the physical processes within the factory, make decisions, and communicate with each other and with humans in real time. By enabling the convergence of physical-digital systems, Industry 4.0 helps manufacturers gain real-time insights into their operations to improve quality, lower costs, and increase efficiency. A major proponent of this digital transformation is PTC [NASDAQ: PTC], which helps companies capitalize on this promise of physical digital convergence today and drive the future of innovation. “We stand at the frontier of a new age of innovation, where the industrial revolution is colliding head on with the digital revolution,” says James Heppelmann, president and CEO of PTC. With over three decades of experience in understanding things in their digital form, and bringing that information back into the physical world, PTC has a unique view of how the IoT can advance businesses today. The company empowers manufacturers to design, manufacture, operate, and service products for a smart, connected world. “PTC focuses on developing tools and solutions that empower our customers to capitalize on the Internet of Things.”
PTC’s gravitas is credited to its stimulus, James Heppelmann, who is a thought leader in industrial innovation and has co-authored three highly influential articles regarding the transformational impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on business. Under his leadership, PTC has assembled the industry’s leading industrial innovation platform and field-proven solutions and services.
PTC empowers manufacturers to unlock the value of the converged digital and physical worlds through its ThingWorx platform, an industry-leading industrial innovation platform designed to rapidly deliver IIoT applications and augmented reality (AR) experiences. ThingWorx allows clients to develop feature-rich industrial IoT applications with a model-driven architecture that provides the extensibility to tailor to customers’ needs. Clients can effectively manage and extract meaningful insights from IoT in real time using ThingWorx’s sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Additionally, manufacturers can easily manage connected products, empowering business users to better monitor, manage, and optimize devices, systems, and processes built on the ThingWorx platform. With a library of 150+ drivers and plug-ins, ThingWorx allows users to easily connect, manage, monitor and control disparate devices and applications across the business.
Creating Role-based Apps
Built on PTC’s innovative IoT platform, ThingWorx Manufacturing Apps, exclusively designed for manufacturers, accelerate time-to-value and offer unmatched flexibility transforming results by giving users unprecedented capabilities to see, understand, and act in real time.
Over the past 50 years, information technology radically reshaped competition and strategy; the Internet of Things, or IoT, is the third wave of IT-driven competition
These role-based apps can be quickly and easily installed and configured without impacting production.
Designed for engineers, the ThingWorx Controls Advisor app rapidly connects to and remotely visualizes data from virtually any Programmable logic controller (PLC) in the factory. The app provides real-time visibility of device connectivity status and instantly notifies controls engineers in case of data communication errors that may cause the loss of critical production data. Engineers can then use Controls Advisor tools to remotely monitor and troubleshoot machine connectivity from a single application to reduce unplanned downtime and boost efficiency and flexibility. ThingWorx Controls Advisor also connects to Kepware—PTC’s software development unit creating solutions for industrial automation—to provide instant connectivity to various assets.
PTC equips plant managers with ThingWorx Production Advisor, which rapidly unifies disparate sources of operational and business data. Production Advisor provides users with real-time visibility into production status and critical KPIs such as availability, performance, quality, and overall equipment effectiveness. ThingWorx Production Advisor connects the top floor to the factory floor, empowering plant managers and production managers with readily available machine production data. The app allows production managers to drill down into underlying data for root cause analysis of any issues and normalize manufacturing KPIs with historical trending. Production professionals can ensure correct execution while driving continuous improvement.
PTC’s manufacturing apps include ThingWorx Asset Advisor created for asset managers. ThingWorx Asset Advisor connects to the client’s manufacturing equipment and provides real-time sensor details and alerts on anomalies. Asset managers can make better-informed, faster decisions with unified connectivity to disparate factory assets and business systems. ThingWorx Asset Advisor empowers clients to work proactively instead of reactively by automatically detecting anomalies and initiating a corrective action before it impacts production. The solution enhances maintenance processes and production performance with real-time monitoring of assets.
Today, PTC works with more than 28,000 businesses around the world to help them create, operate, and service products in globally distributed manufacturing industries, including industrial equipment, automotive, high tech and electronics, aerospace and defense, retail, consumer, and medical devices.
A compelling use case is that of Sysmex, a medical device manufacturer that demanded a higher level of customer service and internal operational efficiency. The manufacturer’s existing technology infrastructure was unable to turn its connected product data into meaningful business value and deliver the value-added services that it needed to stay ahead in the market. Using the ThingWorx platform, Sysmex was able to achieve next-generation service and connected product capabilities. The company is able to rapidly deliver value-added applications that pull out instrument data in real-time and seamlessly integrate it into Sysmex’s existing business processes. Sysmex was able to improve equipment uptime as it was able to achieve faster decision response time, and also expect to see improved labor utilization through collaborative information exchange. “ThingWorx is touching every aspect of our business. It is transforming the way our business works,” says Steve Postma, Director of Technical Service Systems at Sysmex.
Infusing AR with Smart Manufacturing
With well over 250 partners aligning their hardware and software product with ThingWorx as well as PTC’s other platforms, PTC enables technology and solution providers to innovate and collaborate with partners and customers and capitalize on the IoT market opportunity. To further support growth, PTC recently launched its redesigned partner program, PTC Partner Network, making it even easier for partners to add new technologies and expertise to their businesses.
"PTC focuses on developing tools and solutions that empower our customers to capitalize on the Internet of Things"
In keeping with the theme of supporting the smart factory, Heppelmann is building on PTC’s proven history in helping customers optimize their manufacturing to bring the power of AR technology with the ability to visualize, instruct, guide, and improve interactions with physical things. In light of this, the company has recently launched Reality Lab, a test center that will be run by researchers who will create applications that leverage augmented, virtual, mixed, and physical realities to improve people’s interactions with their physical environments. The lab will apply human-centered design and human-computer interaction to new technology, empowering people with more intuitive and practical computer user interfaces for managing the next generation of networked computer systems. “Our new Reality Lab will enable enterprises to advance the way they serve customers, train employees, design and create products, manage their value chains, and how they compete,” says Heppelmann.
In addition, PTC is also strengthening its strategies for Industry 4.0 by partnering with McKinsey & Company, leading management consulting firm, to create a global network of Industry 4.0 Digital Capability Centers (DCCs). Using PTC’s solution, the DCCs are designed to support companies at every stage of their digital transformation journey. The DCCs will include a realistic production environment, digital showcases with demonstrations of Industry 4.0 technology, as well as experiential capability-building workshops to promote skills training and awareness of Industry 4.0. “It is rewarding to be a catalyst and trusted solution provider for companies that are fundamentally transforming their businesses,” concludes Heppelmann.