PTC and GE Digital are expanding their strategic alliance to bring integrated solutions to the industrial Internet of Things market. The companies will develop a suite of PTC ThingWorx applications for GE’s Predix industrial internet operating system and jointly market the combined technologies.

PTC’s ThingWorx enables rapid drag-and-drop development of IoT solutions that exploit automation connectivity, machine learning, predictive analytics and both augmented and virtual reality. PTC will optimize elements of ThingWorx for Predix.

PTC Executive Vice President Mike Campbell says ThingWorx can be used by aerospace companies as it is used by other industries, such as oil and gas, smart cities and manufacturing. “Aerospace manufacturing is one area where ThingWorx could be used prominently.” ThingWorx connectivity can connect machines and assets. Its analytics enable extraction and processing of data from connections, and ThingWorx visualization can create dashboards to view and interpret data.

ThingWorx would thus enable aerospace firms to easily build machine- and asset-specific applications to monitor and assess assets. And its augmented reality functions could help with service and training on these assets.

“For maintenance, ThingWorx machine learning enables aerospace companies to understand asset health and predict failures,” Campbell explains. A ThingWorx algorithm establishes a baseline for normal operations, monitors data against the baseline and alerts operators to unusual readings or changes. It can also estimate when an asset may cease operating correctly, for example if an asset continues to run a high temperature for more than 48 hr., it might fail in about four days. “We can significantly reduce unplanned downtime, one of the largest costs in manufacturing.”

ThingWorx augmented reality can improve service, maintenance and training. Rather than use blueprints, ThingWorx Studio can create 3D step-by-step service procedures overlaying the physical asset to be repaired. Using a tablet or smartphone, staff can be walked through each step, with rules to ensure previous steps are completed first. “We are confident augmented reality will revolutionize service,” Campbell says. That should dramatically reduce manuals, blueprints and training videos irrelevant to many specific assets.

Campbell says PTC already works with many of the world’s largest aerospace companies, including manufacturers of most commercial airliners. For example, Airbus has used PTC’s Windchill Product Lifecycle Management application. The future ThingWorx for Predix applications will most likely aggregate and analyze product data to optimize design, manufacturing operation and services.