| Article Archive
Features List 13
From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 25 No 05 - June/July 2012
The acquisition of Integrity by PTC enhances the collaboration, management and authoring capabilities of Windchill
The latest version of Windchill, from PTC, includes newly acquired Integrity software system lifecycle management technology. Whilst Windchill 10.1 introduces a number of enhancements to the PLM software, Integrity is said to raise the bar for how manufacturers gather and manage requirements and trace related changes.
I am always fascinated whenever software developers promote their applications with the premise that it is capable of handling a user's multifarious requirements within the confines of one particular set of tools - and then quietly proceed to acquire other companies whose products apparently fulfil a number of needs that were not being met. Rather than disrespecting PTC and its widely used and popular Windchill product - which I am emphatically not doing - it probably reflects more on my perceptions of the software, and what I expect it to be able to achieve.
That's rather a long-winded way of saying that I had better establish exactly what advantages Integrity brings to Windchill, and why it has been integrated within the PLM application. You know as well as I do that the terminology used to describe the functions and benefits of PLM and similar processes are long on management speak and short on actual clarity.
What is Integrity?
Windchill is classified as a PLM application - Product Lifecycle Management - which handles all aspects of the development of a product from conception, through product design, testing and manufacture and even to its eventual withdrawal, destruction and, if appropriate, recycling. It coordinates object data and associated information acquired within one application, to be used for other or subsequent applications, with the benefits of minimal data loss through data sharing, faster development times, and more direct collaboration on design, costing and manufacturing issues - essentially a product-oriented application, which happens to facilitate the management of an enterprise's entire output by collating product information in an instantly accessible and very digestible format.
Unfortunately, as we now live in a global community, and products are capable of being developed on a global scale using sub-contractors from many different countries - and as the products themselves are being produced using a variety of different software technologies, such as freehand design, FEA and CFD analysis tools, technical documentation software, environmental studies and so on - we are being increasingly faced with rules and regulations that govern what, and also how, we produce our goods.
You won't, for instance, find any information in Windchill on how Health and Safety requirements will influence that particular component you want manufactured in SE Asia, in spite of the fact that they are offering pretty advantageous manufacturing terms.
MKS, the developers of Integrity, explain how manufacturers can leverage their software to achieve global compliance, by stating that governments, worldwide, control the export of goods, not as a barrier to business, or because of an overbearing compliance burden, but because the pace of global development, which supports software of increasing complexity, has caused regulation environments in different parts of the world to evolve at different rates.
The questions that manufacturing companies have to ask themselves, therefore, is whether the data they are sending to prospective and active partners around the globe are secure, and if the correct access rights and permissions are in place to export their data in a controlled manner - and whether those partners are set up to maintain the same level of compliance and auditability expected from their product development.
For those who have not come across it before, I am loath to add another acronym into an already overloaded market, but PTC Integrity is classified as an ALM - Application Lifecycle Management solution that orchestrates all software development processes and manages all development artifacts, adding another level of visibility into product development. This means that it can keep track of all of the software (and revision levels) that were used to develop a product. And now the integration of Windchill with Integrity's software change and configuration management capabilities, and its synchronisation with product configurations, gives manufacturers total visibility over product development, the management of defects and other issues.
The value of this, I suppose, can be shown by examining the fallout and finger pointing at any of a number of motor manufacturers involved in global product development, following recent major withdrawals of product models from the market for periods whilst they examined production methods, processes and design tools used - to apportion blame and subsequent penalties or costs!
It's not just about compliance management, though. Customer's needs are as important as the regulator, and companies need to be enabled to design, build and deliver products that meet or exceed their customer's expectations. According to CIMdata, "Requirements management is all about balance - preventing one class of requirements from overriding another is critical. Effective requirements management ensures the voice of the customer is captured and managed throughout the lifecycle of the product." Fail this stage and the customer will soon find another partner who can 'produce the goods'.
PTC Integrity provides requirements management capabilities that go beyond the mere capture of product information, though - the traditional view of the tool that mainly focuses on the acquisition of raw materials and manufacturing processes, but aims to instil the discipline as an interactive part of the product development lifecycle.
Part and parcel of this is the implementation of test management, designed to improve product quality through requirements-based, and parameterised testing. According to MKS, industry research has shown that 56% of all errors identified in projects are introduced in the requirements phase. Formal requirements management disciplines have to be used, therefore, to ensure comprehensive test planning and test execution coverage, establish traceability between requirements, test cases and code, manage the resolution of defects found during testing, and enable measurement of project readiness through reports and dashboards.
The testing organization within any business is constantly under pressure to ensure that the delivered product or system meets certain quality goals (stated nor not) and to validate this under critical time pressures.
Parameterised testing is one of the last activities in a development or engineering cycle purely due to the nature of evaluating constructed systems, and, usually, insufficient time is set aside to perform the desired level of testing - resulting in manufacturers having to prioritise work, which means, effectively, doing what they must do first, leaving less important tests to whether they have time enough left to run them. A most unsatisfactory system.
Software Change Management
PTC Integrity's core functions, however, are its software configuration, change management (SCCM), and software re-use capabilities. This provides complete source code management, unifying software configuration management and software change management, facilitating enhanced team collaboration and communication - that mouthful means that teams work better if they are running similar levels of software.
PTC Integrity enables software to be configured and managed throughout an entire organisation, including the situation regarding software re-use - a more prudent way of managing complex software development issues, although one which raises significant questions.
The software helps users to identify software components and versions of given releases of software, who owns them, and how to ensure different levels are compatible with each other. And, with the rise in software re-use practices and continued adoption of Web Services technologies, development and testing organizations need reliable ways to manage the development, assembly and ongoing use of the software components that they use.
The aim is faster delivery of functionality, reduced development and testing costs, and shorter product development cycles - through better software reliability and reduced maintenance costs and happier customers and end users.
System Model Management
Finally, PTC Integrity provides native support for modelling and simulation tools, such as Simulink and MATLAB, ensuring complete traceability between all functions, data and processes - an integrated solution that addresses the specific needs of a model-based development process providing complete traceability among requirements, test cases, models, and other assets to ensure the accuracy of designs, address design changes in the models (and test cases) and ultimately reduce development cycle times.
A complete software lifecycle management solution is now wrapped up in a complete product lifecycle management solution. What's the next step?
Click here for a Print Friendly Version
©2006 BTC. All rights reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced without written permission of the owners.