CAD Secret Agent Finds a Soulmate

I’ve been covering the CAD industry since PCs were called “microcomputers” and a math co-processor was a must-have accessory for CAD users. There have been winners and losers in the CAD market: anyone out there still using VersaCAD? At one time it was bigger than AutoCAD.

Among the survivors from the early years of desktop CAD is Kubotek KeyCreator, originally called Cadkey. KeyCreator was a three-dimensional modeler at a time when most CAD was 2D only. Over the years KeyCreator has developed a devoted following as the go-to tool when models arrive on the desktop in need of repair. It can read and write most 3D CAD formats, and uses direct editing technology to simplify the editing of 3D entities, even if they were created by a parametric modeler. KeyCreator is the CAD equivalent of a secret agent, called upon to quickly, quietly, and efficiently eliminate a problem. (more…)

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Removing Fear From the Path of Progress

At a technology seminar for architects in the early days of the World Wide Web, I heard a speaker excitedly proclaim, “Change is changing!” He advocated “throwing out the rulebook” and embracing what was still very much The Wild Wild West online. For every architect in the room busily poking his Blackberry to send approving comments to the speaker in real time, there was another one who shuddered in dread and didn’t really get what was happening.

The speaker was describing change in terms of personal growth and embracing new values. But many in the room thought he was proposing radical changes to business practice. Turns out it is common in times of great change to cause confusion about the difference between personal values and business practice. Confusing practice for values in an organization, notes business philosopher Greg Satell, “is why success so often breeds failure.” He cites Xerox, when its culture of pride in technical excellence and great service was blindsided by the rise of cheap, simple copiers from new competitors Canon and Ricoh. If Xerox had been more nimble, they could have maintained their values, but changed their practice to meet the competition. (more…)

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Innovating the Small Stuff Yields Big Results

In these days of highly complex markets, global competition, and rising customer demands, companies are faced with an imperative for innovation. The marching orders are to break the mold with new business models and release never-before-seen products, all in an effort to create some form of differentiation that keeps the business relevant if not on the cutting edge.

Innovation is so top of mind that nearly three-quarters of U.S. private companies are making it a priority, according to a report by PwC, “Growing Your Business: Innovation Imperative.” Within that group, roughly half of respondents expect innovation to have a significant impact on the way they do business over the next few years.

 While innovation is most often equated with the next, bright shiny object or practice, not all innovation is disruptive or a novelty. In fact, innovation is more often evolutionary, tied to the introduction of new processes and toolsets that reduce waste or create operational efficiencies and thus, end up having a dramatic impact on how a company does business.

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Need a Little Help Shopping for Engineering Document Management?

At the risk of offending people who despise putting people into two groups, I have observed that when faced with a large problem possessing many variables and no certain solution, people fall into one of two groups. People in the first group get excited by the thrill of the challenge; people in the second group get a knot in their stomach and wish someone would ask them a simple one-dimensional question instead.

Most engineers fall into the first group, but the gung ho attitude often comes unglued when the topic turns from “increase the battery life” to “automate our engineering document management.” Let’s face it: nobody went to engineering school to learn how to streamline data and document management, that’s what business schools are for. (more…)

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Global Design Teams Rewrite the Rules of Collaboration

Collaboration in the product design space has never been easy, but it’s a whole new ball game today. Gone are the days when the engineer or domain expert central to a design problem or project task was just a stone’s throw away or even right across town. Today’s product development teams operate as a global business, yet there is still a need to communicate and share critical documents and design files just as easily as if everyone was working from a central location.

Not only does product-related data need to be easily accessible by multiple design centers around the world, it should also be available day or night across different time zones, affording engineering teams the benefit of 24/7 or “follow the sun” development processes. The data and materials must be served up in the native languages of each country so engineers have ready access to what they need in a format they can easily understand. Collaboration on a global scale has to work similarly to collaboration with local peers so design decisions can be made quickly, without misinterpretation and without taking a toll on critical project deadlines. (more…)

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