The Windchill product lifecycle management (PLM) solution was originally developed by Windchill Technology Inc., a company co-founded by Jim Heppelmann, who is now the current President and CEO of PTC. When PTC acquired Windchill Technology, Heppelmann joined the company as senior vice president. Windchill first launched in 1998 and was promoted as the very first Internet-based PLM solution. Today, PTC Windchill offers comprehensive capabilities to help manufacturers manage their products through all phases of the product lifecycle. As the central repository for all product-related information, PTC Windchill PLM tools help companies bring products to market faster, improves quality and performance, and reduces risk. Such information can include CAD models, documents, technical illustrations, embedded software, calculations and requirement specifications. PTC Windchill also remembers the entire history for every piece of content as well as the relationships between content to answer questions such as the following: Who accessed this content? What changes were made? Which products use the XYZ component? To quickly find content, the PTC Windchill user interface always gives you immediate access to searching and browsing capabilities; from a generic toolbar at the top of the main screen to functional specific windows such as the part structure tab. Searches can be generic, such as finding all products that begin with “101,” or more complex, such as finding all components created by a particular person after a certain date that have been released. PTC Windchill is highly scalable, which means no organization will outgrow it, no matter what its size. The complexity and cost involved in obtaining and maintaining PTC Windchill makes it a solution for larger companies.
With robust APIs available, larger company users note how they can configure and expand and modify PTC Windchill to meet whatever need they can come up with. Several users note that because the interface is designed like a web page, and most people are comfortable in a browser-like setting, it seems easy to navigate and use.
While the API customizability is nice, some noted that the API is not only poorly documented, but at times it is downright wrong. One user noted that there are some classes that aren’t listed in the API documentation that are necessary to have things function when customizing. And you might not get any technical support for problems as it’s not a supported activity. Other users note that PTC Windchill integrates best with PTC CAD products, and does not interface well with an ERP system outside the PTC brand, such as SAP.
It’s clear that the price tag that comes with PTC Windchill makes it a tool that shold only be considered by larger organizations, or medium-sized organizations that anticipate becoming large in the near future. While the promise of customizability through APIs is great, problems encountered in the process are not supported, which means more money will need to be spent.