PTC Advances Closed Loop PLM

Acquisition of ServiceMax keyed to integration of asset and field service management capabilities to extend digital thread.

Acquisition of ServiceMax keyed to integration of asset and field service management capabilities to extend digital thread.

PTC’s acquisition of long-time partner ServiceMax aimed at strengthening its digital thread strategy. Image Courtesy of PTC

Culminating a 12-year-plus partnership, PTC has officially made a bid to acquire ServiceMax, an acknowledgement that field operations and maintenance are a critical part of a product’s lifecycle and central to the digital thread.

PTC, which has had a long-standing relationship with ServiceMax since 2015, made it legal with a definitive agreement to acquire the SaaS Field Service Management Provider for $1.46 billion, slated to close in January of 2023. PTC officials said the companies have always had a lot of synergy especially as it relates to their respective client portfolios—typically manufacturers of complex, highly configured products in vertical industries like medical devices, industrial products, and aerospace. The partners had batted around the idea of an acquisition previously, but ServiceMax’s purchase by GE and subsequent IPO plans derailed the discussions for some time until they recently resurrected, and the pair agreed on terms and price, says Greg Payne, PTC’s vice president of corporate communications.

“ServiceMax and PTC have a longstanding relationship rooted in the common profile of our customers, the natural synergies of our products, and a shared understanding of the importance of product data at different stages of the lifecycle,” said Neil Barua, ServiceMax CEO, in a press release.

While the early vision for PLM was providing a system of record for the digital definition of a product, much of its success has been limited to engineering and manufacturing departments with far less traction upstream in service and maintenance areas. The emergence of IoT and IoT platforms like PTC’s ThingWorx laid the ground work for integrating what happens to a product after it leaves the manufacturing floor into the system of record, setting the stage to finally deliver on closed loop PLM.

PTC’s Windchill PLM platform and Creo design tool platform are well established as a system of record for the digital definition of any product configuration, and ServiceMax will extend this to be the system of record for monitoring and servicing product instances after they leave the factory and move into customer use, according to Jim Heppelmann, PTC’s president and CEO. “PTC will have the unique ability to complement the full digital product definition from our CAD and PLM solutions and complete service history from ServiceMax,” he said in a press release announcing the acquisition.

A product’s operation and maintenance history are critical parts of a product’s lifecycle, and a system of record for service is a natural home for product data that originates in engineering, continued Payne. “ServiceMax’s capabilities are designed for companies that need to deliver asset-centric service, meaning they can’t service a given product without knowing a lot about that specific product configuration or serial number,” he explains. “PTC’s customers are these types of companies, and they view service strategies as important for their own customers’ satisfaction, extending their products’ lifecycles and expanding profitability.”

With greater integration, ServiceMax will draw in product information and service bills-of-materials from Creo and Windchill, which will aid in delivering on asset-centric service. In this way, customers will know more about the product, aiding in service, and integration to the ThingWorx IoT platform will allow companies to build on this to enable more predictive and preventive service. “You can imagine a scenario where an IoT-connected product signals an alarm about a potential failure and automatically generates a service ticket in ServiceMax that leads to scheduling of a technician for proactive service,” Payne says.

Moving further into the PTC product stack, Payne describes a scenario where an on-site technician could leverage 2D technical documentation and instructions from PTC’s Arbortext solutions or 3D augmented reality work instructions from Vuforia.

This keynote address provides an early look at ServiceMax and PTC ‘s synergies and shared vision for smart, connected service.

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Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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