(Boston) - A big day for PTC as we now release the greatest CAD innovation since Sam Geisberg invented parametrics about twenty years ago, mused the newly appointed CEO of PTC, Jim Heppelmann, facing an enthustiastic crowd of customers, analysts and press, as the company removed the secrecy surrounding their so called “Project Lightning”. And what they presented to us was no small potatoes: ProEngineer, which over the years almost became an institution within the CAD sphere, disappears. As does CoCreate and the visualization application Productview and all of it will be replaced with the CAD solution suite baptized Creo.
A murmur went through the crowd, as Jim Heppelmann delivered the news from the stage here in Boston. But, as he points out in an upcoming interview that he gave to PLM TV News (PLM TV NEWS, Program 9, which is devoted mainly to the new Creo suite.): “It’s really more a question of the name disappearing, and becoming a part, of the extended capacity of the new CAD suite Creo”
The first enterprise CAD solution. Just as it was suggested during the user conference in Orlando this summer, this is really about PTC creating an “all-in-one” CAD solution, which lets the user manage everything from 2D drawing to parametric 3D and direct edited (“explicit”) 3D. Everything to make life easier for everyone involved in the product development process, from the engineers at Volvo Trucks or similar companies, who work with complex assemblies and leave configurations to salespersons, who might just need a 3D visualization solution.
“This is basically the first Enterprise CAD solution”, said Jim Heppelmann. The idea is that everyone in the production chain have different needs and therefore, only utilize parts of the solution. Which is something PTC now will solve by creating four key technology modules so called apps. Everything shares a common database.
The four apps are as follows:
* AnyRole Apps
* AnyMode Modeling
* AnyData Adoption
* AnyBOM Assembly
How do the apps work?
* AnyRole Apps - which from a role perspective assigns every person in the product development process exactly the CAD capabilites that he or she needs, through the shared data model/database. In the end everyone works with the same data, but from different angles, based on their individual needs.
*AnyMode Modeling - deals with the different modes that you can work in: 2D drawing, 3D parametric or 3D direct/explicit. Regardless of what you choose, there will be no dead ends. Case in point. If you work in direct editing mode with a 3D model, all you have to do is go back to 3D parametrics when you are done - and voila! The features that have been modeled or changed are displayed in the program’s history tree. The associativity is automated. The same thing goes for the 2D drawing side: Many users want to make their first, simple, conceptual sketches in 2D during, the early phases of the process. What’s needed here is a simple tool that can support the creation of basic structures. After that you can move on and, so to speak, let the intelligence be “hooked up” as the process advances. And when the 2D drawing is done, it can be moved, with sustained data, to 3D mode. No data is lost, nothing has to be recreated.
* Anydata Adoption - “In Creo, data can be moved to the places where it’s needed, sure, but what about data models from other programs?” asked PTC’s chief of Product Development, Brian Shepherd, rhetorically. Of course, he supplied the answer himself: “When you have to move something from one CAD tool to another, it often ends with you having to recreate it or use a neutral format, which in turn ends in ‘dumb, unintelligent’ geometries.” In Creo this changes. You can take files from other programs such as UGS NX files, Catia files or formats of similar applications, move them into an assembly, where they can then be manipulated, changed to modified. “They become Creo data in the Creo enviroment”, says Shepherd, “ and it doesn’t matter where they come from you never have to go back to the system where the modell, or component, was created to make the needed change. They have become Creo native data. This evokes an undeniably breathtaking perspective when you think of the consequences this might have for things like legacy data, for someone who is switching systems...”
*AnyBOM Assembly (BOM, Bill Of Materials) - perhaps the largest and most important of all the news in Creo. “Managing configurations and different variations of assemblies is often semi-automated work”, said Brian Shepherd. “With AnyBOM we have created a tool that in an automatic way can manage complex product configurations”. What this means is that you will be able to create a digital mockup from an assembly, like a car for instance. By using the serial numbers of the components you can now create a model of a car that’s never been seen before. In other words, you can basically create a CAD model from the assembly.
Solves four big issues. - With the Creo apps we are looking to solve four major problems that exist on the CAD market today, noted PTC president, Jim Heppelmann.
A)  Ease-of-use: Until now, the systems have been set to overkill mode. the programs have been so complex, that it has taken a week just to understand how they work, and then, an even longer time to really learn how to use them effectively. Everything has been too abstract.
B) Interoperability: A lack of openness has constantly been putting down obstacles in too many directions. Creo will end this. You can now collaborate efficiently with other departments, with partners or with customers, even if they are on different program platforms.
C) Creo unlocks “trapped” technology, which up until now has made data exchange expensive. Openness is important here as well, but it’s also about pushing the boundaries of innovation.
D) With realistic assembly modeling we can now facilitate management of configurations and variations from both top down and bottom up!
What do we make of Creo? One thing that’s clear is that the people at PTC are very excited about their new solution and not once during the 15 years that I have been following the organization, I have never seen the corporation in such a focused and positive mood. I’m also quite sure that people like the new CEO Jim Heppelmann or chief of product development Brian Shepherd, would ever make a bold investment like this without firm ground to stand on. Among analysts, such as Marc Halpern of Gartner Group, had good things to say about PTC’s solution, adding however, that some of the features might not be as newsworthy as PTC claims, and are really more about the company catching up with some of its competitors.
- As a solution, Creo is a very good move, Halpern said, in a comment to PLM TV News. The vision of an enterprise CAD system is strategically sound, and to give openness, multi CAD capacity and ease-of-use a more defined role is a good thing.
- But you should not forget that Creo also includes things that really are more about letting PTC catch up with their competitors. A telling example of this, are the mixed technologies around 3D parametric and “direct/explicit edited”. Where Siemens PLM and their synchronous technology is way ahead.
- What’s really exciting to me, is that we now can create CAD BOMs
from assembly models.