Courtesy Christoph Braeuchle
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Q&A: Application Lifecycle Management Software Connects People, Processes

July 10, 2024
Christoph Braeuchle of PTC discusses Codebeamer ALM software, which was acquired from its purchase of Intland Software in 2022.

Modern machine design involves software-controlled functionality and user interfaces, so traditional spreadsheets might not be enough to handle the increasing complexity of today’s industrial automation. Application lifecycle management (ALM) can help companies connect people, processes and teams around common goals as well as speed up software delivery and simplify regulatory compliance. ALM’s function is to manage a software or product lifecycle from initial idea through design, development, testing, deployment and end of life.

PTC, a software solutions provider for industrial innovation, acquired Intland Software along with its Codebeamer ALM software family in 2022 to extend its ALM offering. Machine Design reached out to Christoph Braeuchle, general manager of the ALM Segment at PTC, to catch up on the acquisition and how the software can benefit the engineers working in the machine design space.

Editor’s Note: Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.

Machine Design: How has acquiring Codebeamer ALM software improved the tools and capabilities that engineers in the machine design space use?

Christoph Braeuchle: Codebeamer’s user-friendly interface makes it easy for engineers and even less technical roles, especially those new to ALM tools, to quickly adapt and learn. We’ve received positive feedback about its usability and flexibility. Machine design innovation improves with a solid understanding of customer requirements, user stories, workflows and system validation tests. Codebeamer manages this information in structured containers, called Trackers, allowing it to be shared with all teams and traced to the tests and releases.

READ MORE: Dive into Software Solutions that Support Additive Manufacturing

MD: Can you provide examples of how the integration of this ALM software has streamlined the process for engineers in the machine design space?

CB: Traditional approaches using requirements documents and Excel-based trace matrices are insufficient to handle the increasing complexity of modern machine design, which involves more software-controlled functionality and user interfaces. When cross-functional teams start using Codebeamer, they quickly notice that traceability is no longer a manual effort but is automatically managed by the tool. This becomes evident when they need to analyze, plan and track changes.

We often hear how companies overcome the “offline spreadsheet culture” with online collaboration in Codebeamer. Engineers no longer waste precious time and energy gathering data and information from multiple, often-outdated documents and other sources. With Codebeamer, they can focus on their primary tasks.

MD: What features or functionalities has Codebeamer addressed—e.g., manufacturing constraints?

CB: Codebeamer helps engineering teams in the machine design space systematically capture, analyze and manage requirements for industrial automation. It identifies and reuses existing solutions and components, plans and tracks releases, and validates the software-controlled machine functionality against the requirements using Codebeamer’s test management solutions. The built-in traceability shows test coverage and execution progress in real time.

Risk management, typically handled in Excel, can be efficiently managed in Codebeamer. The integration with PLM (product lifecycle management) systems like Windchill connects with mechanical designs and part structures.

MD: Does this ALM software influence collaboration and communication among those in the machine design space, enabling better coordination and faster decision-making processes?

CB: Codebeamer significantly improves decision-making processes by eliminating the need to manually gather information from various departments. It provides easily accessible dashboards that display project progress and facilitate decision-making. Codebeamer enables customers to quickly overcome the manual searching for outdated information stored in file systems. The change process ensures thorough discussion of upcoming changes and their impact on current projects.

One notable feature is the suspect flags, which indicate when an element has been altered. This simple yet effective tool prevents oversights and saves time in daily operations, unlike the manual, time-consuming and error-prone processes involving Word and Excel.

READ MORE: Design Engineering: View CAD from a Different Angle

MD: It’s been a couple of years since PTC acquired Intland. Can you share any success stories or specific projects where engineers have used Codebeamer to design innovative and high-performance machine components or systems?

CB: We are proud that some leading German companies in industrial automation use Codebeamer to streamline collaboration, innovate their offerings and drive their own digital and agile transformations. Beyond industrial automation, numerous large automotive companies worldwide use Codebeamer for their software-defined vehicle projects. Where regulatory compliance, safety and security are crucial, and rapid innovation is essential for competing globally, Codebeamer is well-suited to manage ALM activities, processes and data.

MD: Looking ahead, how will this software drive progress in machine design efficiency and advancement?

CB: The increasing amount of software-controlled functionality and product complexity necessitates real-time online collaboration among cross-functional teams. Additionally, we observe a trend among leading companies in industrial automation: a shift to Agile engineering, using frameworks like SAFe (Scaled Agile).

This shift towards more software-defined functionality also enables “over-the-air” software updates and online issue fixes, demanding automated build pipelines and seamlessly integrated software repositories. Codebeamer directly addresses these needs by providing enterprise-level visibility, transparency and control. As a result, our customers can respond much faster to changes, problems or new requirements from their clients without compromising productivity or innovation speed.

MD: Anything else our audience of mechanical and design engineers should know about Codebeamer ALM software?

CB: Yes, a key point is that ALM is crucial for all products, not just those heavily reliant on software. Every product requires requirements and tests. Software, mechanical  and electronic/electrical components must integrate seamlessly, and it's essential to consider the entire product lifecycle. This concept, known as the Digital Thread, ensures different engineering systems work together effectively.

At PTC, we enhance the integration between Codebeamer and Windchill to form a strong core of what we call the Engineering Digital Thread. This concept unlocks innovation and productivity, replacing old-style collaboration via email, sticky notes, Word or Excel. Using an enterprise ALM system to manage and collaborate around requirements, tests and releases in a structured way aids decision-making, change management, error prevention and overall efficiency.

About the Author

Sharon Spielman | Technical Editor, Machine Design

As Machine Design’s technical editor, Sharon Spielman produces content for the brand’s focus audience—design and multidisciplinary engineers. Her beat includes 3D printing/CAD; mechanical and motion systems, with an emphasis on pneumatics and linear motion; automation; robotics; and CNC machining.

Spielman has more than three decades of experience as a writer and editor for a range of B2B brands, including those that cover machine design; electrical design and manufacturing; interconnection technology; food and beverage manufacturing; process heating and cooling; finishing; and package converting.

Email: [email protected]

LinkedIn: @sharonspielman

X: @MachineDesign

Facebook: Machine Design

YouTube: @MachineDesign-EBM

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