Clear Thinking About Cloudy CAD

Sooner or later when talking about EDM or PDM software, the subject turns to return on investment (ROI). But before measuring the ROI of any particular software purchase, one must be clear about what exactly is being measured. Recent trends in the engineering software industry are muddying the waters instead of making things more clear about the purpose of PDM. So, (spoiler alert), this article is not about ROI of PDM specifically, but about the clear thinking required to measure it correctly.

There is a new set of CAD and PDM tools on the market using cloud technology. They all have one thing in common: they are geometry-centric. Like their desktop predecessors, they are very good at helping people turn ideas into drawings or models. The new cloud-based CAD systems offer a better way to streamline design collaboration. Distance is no longer an obstacle for those who must work together to create geometry. However, the work output has not changed; geometry is created, refined, and submitted to a larger product development process. (more…)

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From Silos to Reservoirs

The phrase “information silo” is often used to describe when departments can’t or won’t play nice with sharing needed data. But I’ve never read of a similar metaphor to describe the opposite, when companies root out all the inefficiencies and everyone has the direct access they need to do their jobs. So let’s call it “information reservoir.”

Silos and reservoirs are two very different types of infrastructure. If the existing infrastructure is Windows Explorer or a product data management (PDM) program that only works on CAD drawings, then not only are you definitely stuck in silo mode, you have much to gain by investing in an engineering document management system (EDMS) that works equally well with geometry, words, and numbers. (more…)

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Do Engineers Fear Innovation?

If the question in the headline seems odd or even stupid to you, please let me explain. I know engineers embrace innovation; it is part of their very nature to get ahold of something and improve it or to build something new and different, something innovative. What I refer to is a fear of innovation when it comes to the tools and procedures they use.

Many engineers want to be inventive and clever but do it with tools and processes that remain familiar and comfortable. It is why after more than 20 years of 3D MCAD and BIM there are still millions of engineers and designers using 2D CAD to create three-dimensional objects and design buildings. It gets the job done and they can focus on the task instead of learning new tools and procedures. Never mind that study after study shows using 3D CAD technology leads to fewer errors and reduces time to market. The ones who stay with 2D CAD don’t want the cognitive and emotional load of learning a new way to do their job. The companies and supply chains involved collectively don’t want to make the effort either. (more…)

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