MechChem Africa

Underpining PTC’s Creo Parametric development, according to Anderson, is enabling companies to accelerate product innovation. “This is key for business growth and for long term sustainability. Companies cannot simply design one good product and rely on sales continuing to grow. As soon as a product is on the market, the next version or upgrade must already be in the pipeline. The market is always looking for something better or different to suit changing circumstances,” he says.

productONE Creo 5.0 Charles Anderson Thulani Mazibuko

Hence the need to incorporate software tools that help companies to continuously improve their products.

“Also, designing new products is a costly exercise, in terms of time and money, so the intellectual property and design data accumulated is very valuable. This leads to the need to reuse as much of the product data as possible to make the ongoing process more cost effective,” he tells MechChem Africa.

New products usually need to be tested, qualified, certified or licensed in some way, to meet national or international safety or quality standards, for example. This can also costs significant amounts of money. “And the last thing any original product manufacturer needs is a product recall, so verification of every aspect of a design or design change becomes essential,” adds Mazibuko.

The March 19 release of Creo 5.0 further accommodates several aspects of these needs by incorporating more sophisticated lifecycle management components into the design process itself. “Product development is, itself, a cycle and, ideally, designers like to have real feedback from existing products in the field when working on a next iteration.

“The idea is to use real data to make it easier to understand the exact conditions in which a product is being used: the forces, temperatures or humidity levels, for example, so that continuous improvement can be incorporated based on reality rather than assumptions,” continues Anderson.

To achieve this from within Creo 5.0, PTC has turned to its IIoT technology platform, ThingWorx, which “replaces assumptions with facts”.

“Online marketing companies have been using the Internet for a long while, measuring people’s responses to a company or product via social media platforms and using the data to inform development. Now the concept of the smart connected product enables something similar to be done by collecting data directly from products in use,” explains Anderson.

It is already normal to add instrumentation to product prototypes before putting them through rigorous field tests. “But now, sensors can be permanently installed in the product, from the get-go, so that a full understanding of every environment and use/abuse situation can be collected, collated and made ‘live’ for use in future designs,” he adds.

“Creo 5.0 not only gives designers the ability to incorporate sensors and instrumentation into their products, it also enables them to set up and link into the ThingWorx platform to allow IIoT data to be collected very easily and fed directly back into the Creo design suite,” explains Mazibuko, adding, “this gives the manufacturer, the owner and the designer a lot more insight into what is happening to their assets in the field.”

“PTC is now calling ThingWorx an industrial innovation platform, because it is aimed at long term product design in the industrial sector and goes far beyond the operational efficiency and proactive maintenance aspects of the IIoT,” says Anderson.

“ThingWorx can access ERP and CRM system data and use it to track customer statistics; track condition and maintenance information for equipment health management; and automate systems such a building’s lighting and HVAC systems. But in the industrial environment, ThingWorx can deal with multiple levels of complexity and it is so much more than another IIoT platform,” he explains.

Feature enhancements in Creo 5.0

Model based definition (MBD): While CAD models are almost all now designed in 3D, for years, engineers have used 2D drawings to deliver product-manufacturing documentation to those taking products to market. “This involves taking a fully specified 3D model and creating a set of 2D drawings annotated with manufacturing data such as dimensions and tolerances, surface finishes and joint details,” Mazibuko explains.

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