Increasing productivity through streamlined product development is what sets apart successful product manufacturers from their competitors and what enables them to deliver innovative products to market faster. One of the critical capabilities of these market “winners” is the ability to efficiently juggle CAD data in multiple formats, a reality born out of increasingly dispersed design teams and ever-expanding design supply chains.
As companies partner together to leverage a supplier network, they must find solutions that enable them to pass model geometry smoothly between CAD systems (and partners), without the need to recreate geometry. Once the third-party CAD data is imported, the solution must also provide functionality that enables users to manipulate and edit the geometry.
With their various supply chain partners spanning many different time zones and requiring design data to be replicated at different sites, manufacturers must be able to not only send and receive CAD data in multiple formats but must be able to work with that data as well. Without those capabilities, organization lose their ability to efficiently collaborate with valuable design team members, whether they are customers or supply chain partners.
Multi-CAD environments add complexities and can hinder engineers’ ability to design in the context of related parts and assemblies. Strategies to deal with these complexities differ. Some companies opt to purchase multiple CAD systems and translate product data between solutions, a costly and burdensome solution. Others simply re-create imported geometry, which wastes valuable cycle time and opens the door to possible errors that can have costly downstream effects.
To deal with these challenges, manufacturers should choose a CAD system that provides visualization import capabilities that make it easier to import 3D models from other systems, reducing the burden of cleaning up geometry or recreating models.
Newer flexible modeling tools improve the recipient’s ability to make modifications to the imported geometry. Here’s how it works: users import native CAD files created with another CAD system into their own system. Users can see the product structure and geometry and make changes directly to that geometry, and then add the parametric intelligence later.
Another significant new CAD feature that can save users significant time is one that automatically recognizes when a change is made to an imported CAD model created with a different CAD tool and associatively updates the model to reflect the change. Since this new way eliminates the need to recreate models, users can focus on creating and optimizing new designs.
Getting processes in synch
Engineering teams must also effectively maintain and track collaborative design processes across the supply chain. Part of this is making sure that everyone is working on the correct version of the design. Another part of that equation is controlling access to that design data to protect valuable IP.
The implementation of a product lifecycle management (PLM) solution can greatly facilitate safe and efficient supply chain collaboration. These systems help to manage multi-CAD design data and track versions by establishing a single data repository so a complete digital product definition can be developed using any number of CAD tools.
By storing and controlling multi-CAD data in a single system, PLM solutions enable organizations to efficiently synchronize complex designs and related changes across connected teams. To support collaboration, PLM systems provide secure workspaces in which CAD-agnostic product data can be shared with internal and external stakeholders.
As product complexity increases and product development becomes more distributed, an organization’s ability to embrace new tools that help them manage and work with CAD data in any number of formats will help them improve quality, shorten time to market, and cut costs, while increasing revenue and profitability.