The Future of Manufacturing Management: Insights from PTC/User Global Summit 2024
This year the PTC/User Global Summit took place in sunny Orlando, Florida. It was an action-packed three days full of rich content and discussions. Robert Hogg of NASA JPL, Keynote speaker, started with an inspiring story how they deployed the Perseverance rover to Mars. From there, attendees dove into breakout sessions and conversations around the future of PTC specifically within the realm of Digital Thread and Transformation.
Smart Manufacturing: Elevating the Industry
The smart manufacturing track saw explosive growth this year, with over triple the attendance from previous years. This surge in interest shows that PTC customers are actively investing in maturing manufacturing business practices. One of the key takeaways here is that this is not exclusive to Windchill. Conversations are already happening around how we can holistically integrate this not only into MES but ERP systems as well.
Core MPMLink: Redefining BOM Transformation and Process Planning, Streamlining Variants, and Accelerating Time to Market
Attendees learned that there is a huge focus for research and development around MPMLink as we know it. And as this product information authored/stored in Windchill matures, it highlights the ever-growing importance of product lifecycle management (PLM). To many, PLM is the core of enterprise ecosystems, as engineering data needs to be easily accessible and consumable by all relevant stakeholders and systems.
Initiatives are currently underway to revolutionize variant creation within Windchill. This expansion is not exclusive to configurable structures, but also to companies who use the “save as” methodology. The hope is that in the future products can be duplicated across the EBOM, MBOM, and process plan. This would not only greatly minimize redundant work, but significantly accelerate time to market as most companies create variations of existing products or use them as a basis for new ones.
Work Instructions: Shaping Manufacturing Guidance
Work instruction authoring and delivery emerged as a key area of growth in the space. Enhancing the illustration creation ability of the system, as well as reducing the overall illustration creation process were just two possibilities being discussed for the future. This would mean, once implemented, the user could create detailed 3D illustrations with annotations, and have them dynamically linked to the product definition.
While information consumption challenges vary across shop floors, Connected Work Cell, a Thingworx application, stood out as a promising work instruction delivery tool. Although in its initial stages of adoption and development, the ability to integrate into MES/ERP systems coupled with PTC’s vision show it could play a pivotal role in the manufacturing landscape to come.
MBD/MBE: Navigating Model-Based Definition
Model-based definition (MBD) and model-based enterprise (MBE) spark passionate conversation year after year. The primary challenge for companies lies in downstream consumption, prompting considerations about how model-based information can be consumed at all levels of the organization. As always, PTC does an excellent job listening to customer feedback and incorporating it into use cases. This particular conversation was around control characteristics and how to consume them within process plans.
Another use case for MBD is extracting key model characteristics and into data collection for the shop floor. How can this be done in a simple way; can it account for the correct information? How does this data then need to be stored? These were all great questions in the session that fueled engaging conversations.
Connected Work Cell: Bridging Gaps on the Shop Floor
Connected Work Cell (CWC) is an application nested on the Thingworx platform. We learned all about what it was, and how it fit into the overall enterprise landscape. While new, this product can be suitable for work instructions and basic data capture which drive work order execution. However, there are still numerous gaps, and questions arise about how well it can either complement or replace an MES system entirely.
Enterprise System Integration: Untangling the Digital Thread
It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a need to extract information from Windchill and into core ERP systems. PTC is actively investing into how the system can be connected to an ERP such as SAP. The key is seamless integration, like puzzle pieces that are distinct but connected firmly.
This is a bigger challenge with integrating MES systems due to a lack of a standard platform, and the area still needs maturity. This is driving PTC to also invest in CWC, with an eye on ISA95 compliant data architecture. This will allow a path for integrating a variety of MES systems if they conform to the same data standards.
One clear takeaway is that with the sheer amount going on in the space of manufacturing management and facilitation, every company will need a specialist who can not only break down but connect the silos across engineering, manufacturing, and purchasing. Windchill is also rapidly evolving in terms of visualization and downstream enterprise integrations. PTC is a business that specifically partners with a customer base willing to engage in these discussions, highlighting how important it is to participate and influence the direction they are taking. There was not enough time in the day to address the many questions and problems companies are currently facing. However, we look forward to engaging with you and PTC in the future as we navigate the manufacturing landscape together.