Parametric takes on automation

Parametric takes on automation

Parametrics Technology recently moved to broaden its business-process automation architecture with the release of Windchill 2.0, an integrated set of Web-enabled product development tools.

With this release, PTC hopes to take a page from the play book of enterprise resource planning vendors by using its size and an integrated suite of tools to take on a billion-dollar segment of the software market currently populated by a host of small companies and homegrown applications, said James Heppelmann, Parametric's senior vice president for Windchill.

Windchill could be considered the leader in a new category - "product process management" or PPM - which combines design with tracking product parts through the manufacturing, distribution, and service phases, according to Dratech analyst Bruce Jenkins.

"This market has very big software and professional services prospects," Jenkins said. By 2001, it could grow from about $100 million to over $1 billion, he added.

At Windchill's core is a customisable Java class library that can be run through a Windchill code generator to create the desired business-process application server. That application can then be further customised using application development tools from Symantec.

Release 2.0 adds a workflow capability - based on the reference model created by the Object Management Group - that allows customers to coordinate development across multiple toolsets.

Web-based collaboration

The Electronic Systems division of defence contractor Lockheed Martin looks forward to Release 2.0 because it will let engineers develop custom products in Web-based collaboration with the US Navy and other customers, supp-liers, shipbuilders, and partners, said Kevin Hamm, Lockheed's IT director of processes.

Hamm's division, which makes radar and navigation systems, is developing a workflow prototype it expects to roll out this summer. Working on product designs over the Web will be much faster, easier, more accurate and cheaper than the current paper and fax-based process, Hamm said.

Windchill 2.0 is available now.

Parametrics Technology

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