Direct or Parametric: Which is the Best for Winning New Business?

There you are, at the conference table across from the prospective customer. They’re sitting back. You’re leaning forward. Rapid fire questions fill the room. One of your tasks is to answer them with surety — to make them feel comfortable that your company can fulfill their needs completely.

This seems like a strange place for a CAD software application. But sure enough, design tools are making their way into such conversations as sales engineers need to mockup design candidates and accommodate customer change requests — all in real time.

In such a scenario, which modeling method is the best fit: Direct or parametric? That’s the topic discussed in this blog post.

Direct: Accommodating unplanned change
Traditionally, parametric modeling approaches have been the only option for sales engineering. Most detailed design 3D models were built using the approach, leaving few options to change them otherwise. The problem is that making changes to such models in a sales engineering scenario can potentially lead to model failures. Models with large numbers of features can fail easily, especially when changed by someone not involved with the original design effort. Those errors can disrupt or sidetrack the sales conversation.

That is where direct modeling can have an impact. Modifications using direct methods are far less constrained than those possible with parametric. This is due to the fact that changes using parametric methods are confined to the features used originally to create the 3D model. Direct approaches can be used to simply edit the geometry regardless of what features were used to originally create the model. Furthermore, model failures can only result from direct modification when geometry calculations fail, not when features fail.

As a result, sales engineers can use direct methods to accommodate customer change requests more easily and without nearly as much fear of model failure.

Parametric: Complying with configuration rules
So direct approaches are best for sales engineers, right? Well, don’t rush to judgment quite yet.

Just like the design process itself, sales engineers can’t accommodate customer change requests without constraint. There can be hard requirements from engineering, procurement, manufacturing and other departments on the design. Engineering might have sizing rules to accommodate more weight and avoid catastrophic failure. Procurement might only allow pumps from certain manufacturers to be used in the product. Manufacturing might not allow certain components to be joined in an assembly because their materials can’t be welded together. Such design intent, whether it comes from engineering or other departments, can’t be embedded thoroughly using direct methods. In the absence of such guidance, sales engineers may end up with a product that can’t feasibly be delivered, or has such high costs that it is not profitable.

This is where parametric methods are a good fit for sales engineering. This approach has powerful and intelligent tools to embedding such configuration rules into the model. In many cases, it helps sales engineers from making commitments that can’t be delivered or burns through any potential profit from the deal.

Which one is best?
It would be nice to have a clean and clear winner between these two, wouldn’t it? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but needs of sales engineering require a far more nuanced solution.

From my perspective, sales engineering can’t go with only direct parametric modeling. They need CAD software applications that have both. Parametric approaches can be used to embed the minimum design intent necessary to avoid catastrophes. Direct approaches can be used to accommodate customer change requests, where warranted.

That’s my take folks. What is your opinion? Do you believe parametric is best? What about direct? Agree with me that both are needed? Sound off and let us know what you think.

Take care. Talk soon. Thanks for reading.

Editor’s Note: Visit our PTC Creo Direct product page to learn more.

This blog post has been licensed for hosting by PTC. The concepts, ideas and positions of this post have been developed independently by Industry Analyst Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights.

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One Comment

  1. Ertan
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Parametric approach will be useful in design changes but, if this parametric aproach embedded in direct software such as feauture recognation. This going to be the most powerful one. Nobody can say only parametric or only direct aproach is better than another. As a machine designer i want a software that permits rapid design changes with an ordinary system requirements. Other parametric softwares requires 16, 32 ram and i7 for crowded assemblies. But now i use CoCreate v17 easily, in thousands of parts with only my i7 4gb ram laptop. Speed is evreything for machine designers, and parametric approach does not have this

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