Windchill is PTC’s flagship Product Lifecycle Management software, which has its latest version this year – WNC12. The long-announced premiere, scheduled for 2020, was questioned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But PTC did not disappoint – on 9th June, at the fair in Boston, it announced the release of the latest version of its product lifecycle management (PLM) software. Windchill, which is considered a model example of an Enterprise Class System, has gained new functionalities. What is the potential of the latest, twelfth version of this program? We decided to analyze it for you.
What’s new in the Windchill 12 system?
Working in a PLM environment is our everyday life. We are a long-term partner of PTC, and we know their products very well. Below we will describe what new features you will find in the latest version and how much has changed compared to the older, eleventh version, about which I wrote here.
Compatibility with current technologies
One of the key advantages of the PLM-Windchill system is its ability to work with other platforms. To maintain compatibility with the latest technologies, Windchill 12 supports:
- Oracle Java 11
- Amazon Corretto 11 (OpenJDK)
- Microsoft SQL Server 2019
- RedHat Linux 8
- PingFed 9.3.3
- Shibboleth 3.1.0
Additionally, compatibility with the latest versions of MS Office has been ensured:
- Office365 (Web/Cloud Variant)
- Office 2019
What systems will no longer be supported by Windchill 12?
One thing is worth emphasizing – it was decided to discontinue technical support for older technologies. It will enable support for these newest and other advanced environments. Therefore, Windchill 12 will no longer support:
- RedHat Enterprise Linux 6
- Windows Server 2012R2
- Windows Server 2012R2
- Microsoft SQL Server 2014
Windchill 12 vs. “Product Digital Thread”
The need for companies to integrate data and processes during product development continues to increase. Meeting this need allows for faster and easier management while maintaining the highest quality of the final product. We have entered the era of Industry 4.0 – which is no longer the distant future as many people think, but the presence of world-class manufacturing companies. One of the concepts that have steadily crept into our industry nomenclature is Digital Thread, illustrating the structure that connects data flows and provides a holistic view of asset data in the product lifecycle. Windchill 12 becomes an integral part of the Product Digital Thread. With the support of other platforms from the PTC family, such as ThingWorx, Windchill Modeler, or Windchill RV&S (formerly Integrity), it is possible to manage not only the design and construction process, but also the creation of system software (SSLM) or applications (ALM).
PTC improves the Windchill system step by step
During creating Windchill 12, PTC emphasized integration via the OSLC protocol, which is present in all the latest versions of the PTC family. Its advantage is the minimum of programming, just to turn it on and set it up to ensure communication between systems. Also, the OSLC standard allows you to combine platforms that are not part of the PTC family, creating one giant tool to support all processes related to the product.
At Transition Technologies PSC, we successfully run projects based on the OSLC protocol. We will write more about this technology in the next article.
Model and manage CAD data more efficiently
The success of the Windchill platform is based on an extensive system for managing and working with CAD models. In order to meet customers’ needs, version 12 brought many changes, both functional and technical:
- Automatic workspace refresh: even if the performed action hasn’t been completed successfully. Multiple users can work on the same data at the same time, so you can be sure to see the most up-to-date version in your workspace.
- Saving CAD objects takes place in the background. This means that CAD is no longer blocked for the time of saving, which could take several minutes with large file sizes. In Windchill 12, the user can continue working while the model is being saved.
- Support for SOLIDWORKS has been improved. Previously, in SOLIDWORKS, the view of objects was limited to four columns. In the newest version, you can define the number and content of columns by yourself, and additionally see the status of models in the system without having to open it.
- Support for configuration management in SOLIDWORKS. An additional parameter has been introduced, thanks to which we can present the configuration as a CAD document and manage it by the Windchill system.
Technical support for Creo 7
It is also worth to mention about PTC’s software to design – Creo. With the Windchill 12 system, we get support for the latest version of Creo 7.0, and thus:
- improving work of MBD (Model Based Definition),
- native support for PDF files,
- changes in Creo View Adapter to create a visualization for the PLM system,
- support for multi-body modeling with the ability to generate eBOM for the Windchill system.
Change management in the production process
Effective management of product changes is often a challenge, especially with very complex structures and a large number of elements changed simultaneously. In version 12, we gained additional readability and fluency during work through:
- The new toolbar that provides quick access to edit configurations and filters. Previous versions of the platform did not have clear and accessible information about the selected filter or view – this case has been resolved by a new toolbar.
- Changes in the interface to define filters. In older versions of Windchill, when we looked through the filters, we saw a list of all possible groups, even if they didn’t contain data. In version 12, we see only those filter groups that have been defined for a given product and are presented in a clear table.
One of the biggest advantages of PTC’s PLM environment has always been the extensive functionalities related to the management of the complete product structure. The possibilities of effective management of bill of materials in the Windchill system already in previous versions of this system covered most aspects related to the product development process and support for production processes. In the new version of the system, we get two extremely important functionalities that distinguish this system from the competition:
- the ability to define and manage raw materials and semi-finished products in the product structure,
- support for the functionality of Multi-Body Design in the product structure.
Raw materials and semi-finished products in the BOM structure
In previous versions of the Windchill system, it was possible to map raw materials and semi-finished products by defining dedicated types of objects. It required additional configuration and programming work. In Windchill 12 has been introduced the possibility of managing a complete, hierarchical structure – from the raw material, through the subsequent stages of the process, on which semi-finished products are made, to the finished on component.
Support for designing multibody functionality in the BOM structure
One of the biggest changes in the Creo Parametric 7 system is the support for logical operations (Boolean operations) at the component level. This functionality is called Multi-Body Design. Users of this system, who had the option only to define linear structures in the 3D model history tree, gained the possibility of parallel, independent definition, and grouping of design features. It introduces much greater possibilities for mapping complex product structures, which make them more transparent and easier to manage. This very important change was also reflected in the Windchill 12 system, with which the Creo Parametric 7 system is natively integrated. Component bodies of the 3D model created in Creo can be marked in order to make them visible in the PLM system. Next, an individual object of the Part type can be assigned to each object. It means that objects can be included in the engineering bill of materials and can play a similar role as components. This introduces greater flexibility in mapping the geometric product structure defined in the CAD system on the PLM system side, as well as better use of the rich possibilities of the Creo system.
Windchill Extension Center – in addition to Windchill 12
Windchill Extension Center is a platform that includes additions to the Windchill system, providing small functionalities that, until now, were often manually designed for the client’s needs. We are reducing the need for programming, we can easily streamline the approval objects, generate PDF files, analysis of changes or connections between objects. In version 12, additional tools were provided to handle watermarks on documents or import even a large number of visualizations of parts.
The platform is constantly developed and soon more modules can be expected to replace the programming-based functionalities. All this to increase the capabilities of the OOTB (out of the box) system and reduce the number of complex modifications that require additional maintenance over time.
If you are interested in new functionalities and want to find out more, please contact us. We offer full support in the process of updating the Windchill system to version 12. Our experts will help you in determining the appropriate approach to updating the current PLM version. They will also guide you through the entire process so that you can fully enjoy the new features of the new Windchill 12. Support includes a detailed analysis of the current environment to identify technical optimization needs and detailed upgrade planning to minimize downtime and complete upgrades quickly.