New Design Tool for Manufacturers

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2001-12-10 Print this article Print

Parametric's DDL enables online collaboration with customers, suppliers.

Parametric Technology Corp. this week will release a new solution for manufacturers to provide design-to-order tools to customers and partners.

PTCs DDL (Dynamic Design Link), powered by the companys Windchill collaboration technology, enables manufacturers that produce products with a lot of design changes to collaborate with customers and suppliers online, using a GUI.

DDL bundles a number of PTCs previous technologies, including Pro Engineer for mechanical CAD development, with a Web-based platform and two portal interfaces.

Information can be configured and viewed in the two separate portals. The first is a Design Portal where manufacturers define rules for products. A Product Portal allows customers to then go in and customize a manufacturers design.

The process works with both simple and complex, highly engineered products because the manufacturer puts in its own engineering specifications. In addition to using CAD documents to provide a three-dimensional rendering of the product—including models, product structure and supporting documentation—the DDL software generates logic around each design modification that helps the end user decide on a final product.

For example, when a customer designing truck beds changes the load balance requirements using the DDL interface, applicable tire recommendations based on weight are generated.

In future iterations, PTC plans to add more optimization capabilities, according to officials in Needham, Mass.

DDL renders product views on the fly by dynamically automating design reviews and other functions within the application engineering process. The software allows users to store, update and compare product alternatives.

Furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc. is testing DDL and plans to roll out the customer-facing portal to a handful of its dealers over the next five weeks.

The Zeeland, Mich., company has a multitude of unique, configurable office furniture parts that dealers can customize. While the IT staff has developed a home-grown configuration system, it is text-based only.

With PTCs Web-based system, dealers can use a browser to go through selection criteria and decide, for example, what type of work surface and what shape desk they would like, generate a preview of the product, and then confirm what they are looking for, according to Jeff Faber, manager of project development information technology.

"We currently get a number of incomplete orders with the text tool," Faber said. "With PTC, well force [the dealers] to select and configure the product. It also shows them what it is theyre specifying and makes them more confident. It shows them whats possible graphically. So once their confidence is up and its clear what they want, well get more orders—and more complete orders."


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