PTC’s Annual LiveWorx Keynote

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By Ryan Martin | 3Q 2021 | IN-6212

The annual LiveWorx conference allowed PTC to present the latest in how the physical world is being transformed by the digital.

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Digital Transforms Physical


PTC held the second edition of its annual LiveWorx conference in a virtual setting from March to June 2021 in three epsiodes. The major theme was how digital transforms physical—how computer-aided design (CAD) is the digital definition of a physical product; how product lifecycle management (PLM) software manages physical assets; IoT connects physical assets; and AR augments the physical world. There was also an important emphasis on how Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the next frontier for digital disruption and the benefits of a comprehensive digital thread.

Technology to Solution


The design-to-part process is complex. It involves the creation, testing, and optimization of a design, testing for manufacturability, programming machines, material handling, quality assurance, post-processing, and assembly. While each of these processes may be digital (e.g., CAD for product design), they are not all tightly integrated.

This means that even the most cutting-edge manufacturers are not at the point where they can go from product design to physical product without some form of manual operation. PTC used the first portion of its LiveWorx keynote to dispel this myth, among others, by providing an update on what core technologies can do now. For example, CAD has allowed companies to capture and mold new ideas with colleagues and suppliers for decades. Modern CAD is not just a documentation tool, but a reference point for downstream production and quality control (digital twins, simulation) in addition to spurring new ideas (generative design). CAD needs to integrate with PLM for end to end data and system management. Telemetry data from IoT allows sensing, contextualizing, and monitoring physical assets.

The focus for AR was how the technology can be employed to guide work and capture physical process expertise from an expert and pass it on to a new employee. If the new employee needs help in the moment, the expert can remotely guide the new employee. Eventually the goal is to virtualize the entire worksite so it can be interacted with from anywhere in the world. This ties in with AR augmenting the physical world and instills data continuity for executable digital twins.

SaaS and Atlas will be Key Tenets of PTC's Products


The second half of the keynote addressed new technology delivery mechanisms in addition to new ways of working. The focal point was the use and benefits of SaaS, which is new for PTC and the manufacturing industry as a whole.

SaaS allows digital solutions to be quickly deployed without the need for heavy software installation or version management and supports more rapid innovation. This is significant because most pre-pandemic engineering applications were resident on on-site desktop computers.

Rather than work on copies of files checked out and downloaded from the server for individual projects, SaaS allows everyone on the team, including suppliers, to work on the same data (in the cloud) at the same time with awareness of everyone else’s presence and changes. This level of synchronicity and transparency enables agile workflows, real time demand response, and more concurrent production operations.

The notion of having an entire supply chain work in harmony with the production chain is profound and SaaS is the force multiplier. Having everyone on the same page and a single source of data speeds time to market and reduces operational risk. PTC wants to be the SaaS leader in the markets it serves, and this quality will be seen in all its products moving forward as the software engineering teams work to make SaaS central to the PTC product portfolio. This means all PTC products will eventually be built on the company’s SaaS platform, Atlas. The benefits are that Atlas-based applications can be accessed from anywhere on any devices, there is a lower total cost of ownership due to no infrastructure or administration, applications are secure and scalable, and updates are fast and ubiquitously available. OnShape is natively based on Atlas (OnShape is the source of the platform), most of the Vuforia suite has been rebuilt on Atlas (including Vuforia Expert Capture and the new Vuforia Instruct application), Creo is in the market as the Atlas-based generative design extension, and Arena (SaaS PLM), Windchill (PLM), and ThingWorx (IIoT platform) are on deck.



Companies Mentioned