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Help For High-Tech Cos. Meeting Regulatory Compliance

PTC is adding to its product-life-cycle-management software new features designed to help electronics and high-tech companies meet compliance mandates and better manage product design and data.

Electronics and high-tech companies are facing competitive pressures, more stringent environmental regulations, and the globalization of product development and manufacturing. To help, Parametric Technology Corp. is strengthening its product-development and design software with new capabilities for design validation and advanced environmental regulation compliance support.

PTC has more than 3,000 high-tech customers that use its Windchill product-life-cycle-management software to comply with the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances and Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment standards, which take effect in 2006. Now, Windchill includes features to help them maintain audit trails and meet certification requirements, analyze product development for regulatory compliance, and build an operation that supports future environmental regulatory requirements.

Compliance is challenging for electronics and high-tech manufacturers because there are so many different regulations around the world, says Chad Hawkinson, director of electronics and high-tech strategic marketing at PTC. "PTC solutions can help by providing a single repository for tracking of all component-part-related information, as well as providing the management reports to allow customers to analyze their products for compliance against the various different regulations and be able to report and manage their audit trails around their compliance efforts," Hawkinson says.

One PTC customer, Unisys Corp., is working with PTC to meet the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances and Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment standards. The manufacturer of Wintel-based computing platforms and proprietary mainframe platforms is using PTC's Windchill ProjectLink for project management, computer-aided design integrations, visualization, and project templates, and the Windchill PDMLink to control product information, such as requirements, analysis results, specifications, and service records, throughout the product life cycle. PDMLink and ProjectLink help Unisys collaborate extensively with its suppliers and vendors in real time, says Tim Saja, Windchill program manager at Unisys.

Additionally, Unisys is using InterComm to manage its PC board designs, which tend to be very complex, Saja says. "We have very complicated PC board and PC-board assembly, and part of the reason we're looking to PTC is for their PC-board tools to help us with tracking changes," he says.

This week, PTC disclosed the release of InterComm EDAcompare, an addition to the InterComm suite. InterComm EDAcompare has addressed a key problem in electronics design, which is identifying and managing change, PTC's Hawkinson says. The tool lets electronics and high-tech manufacturers compare and identify changes in printed circuit-board designs early in the product-development process.

Having a single vendor like PTC provide an interoperable suite of products is a major benefit to Unisys, Saja says. "If you're heavily relying on a mechanical design package and that mechanical design package is tightly integrated into your [product-data management], it is tough managing all the different releases between the different vendors," he says. "The fact that the mechanical design software, the mechanical design viewer package, and the container that it goes into like PDMLink are all managed by the same company and they are making sure all the release levels are compatible is a huge load off of us."

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