A Day in The Life Of A Multi-CAD User

A Day in The Life Of A Multi-CAD User

Are you using your data efficiently? How do you keep the little things from falling through the cracks? Aras Innovator® is a platform that can help you stay on top of your product data and help you share it with the rest of the business and the supply chain by connecting your multi-CAD and PDM software with your PLM needs.

Instead of getting siloed by limited connection to the rest of the company, Aras Innovator can help you create a seamless digital thread to make the most of your product data. In this article, we examine the daily routine of two engineers – one with a preferred multi-CAD application integrated into Aras Innovator and one without.

Imagine two engineers at different companies. Let’s call them Jane and Bob. Jane and Bob work at companies focusing on designing and manufacturing electromechanical products. Both use an industry-standard PDM tool to manage their CAD files and all other files that might be associated with this process. The main difference is that Jane’s company has integrated its CAD environment into Aras Innovator. In contrast, Bob’s company, on the other hand, does not have a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution to share its CAD data with the rest of the organization and partners in the supply chain.

This technical difference makes a noticeable impact on the daily work lives of both engineers. Let’s look at a few examples:

Sharing and updating product documentation

Bob is working on a product similar to another product he has made before. So, he finds the product folder on the company’s shared network drive, finds the product family, and identifies the design for the earlier product. Then he opens the latest version and works with the documentation he will use as a template for his new product. Bob starts designing.

At the same time, Bob does not know that the company’s quality manager, Joe, is using the same product documentation. Here, Joe adds a small but significant change to fix a known quality problem within the product design. Joe updates the documentation with a resolution to the problem.

Without knowing this, Bob finishes his product design, using the documentation he found as a template. Bob has finished his work on time and within budget. And everyone is happy.

Or so he thought.

Two months later, the product is recalled from the market due to a quality problem. During the root cause analysis, Bob finds the issue and realizes that it is a known – and old – issue that Joe, the quality manager in the company, has already solved. Because Bob failed to discover the update, the time to market for the product has dramatically increased, and his company is now losing revenue to the competition.

Across town, Jane has started working on a design update to a product that directly competes with the product Bob’s company has just recalled from the market. She received a note of some changes required to improve the design. Now, she can apply these changes to the design without leaving her preferred CAD environment. After a while, Jane is ready to send the updated design to product development – including every requirement and detail to manufacture the correct product.

Because there is no true connectivity between the design environment and the product documentation in Bob’s company, there is no digital thread that connects design data with the manufacturing process, product requirements, and planning. Bob and his coworkers are forced to work and share essential updates in an analog-like way through e-mails and documents and speaking to people in different departments. And if they fail to communicate, mistakes happen.

The curse of not having a true digital thread

A few months later, Bob just completed the design for a motherboard and has now passed the design on to the next step. Now, Bob is ready for a well-earned summer break and goes on vacation. While Bob is out of the office, Joe, the quality manager, investigates the design and has concerns about a few outdated components on the motherboard. Since Bob is out, Joe cannot apply these changes to the product documentation. It is also impossible for Joe to know what effect a change to the motherboard can have on each of the products that use the motherboard. Bob is the only person who knows exactly where the correct documentation is stored and how it affects the products.

Because Bob cannot transfer his work and knowledge to other people in the company through a PLM system, all work progress on the design suddenly stops for the rest of the team. The single source of truth exists in one place – in Bob’s head – and he has taken all of this information with him.

Meanwhile, it is Friday afternoon at Jane’s company. She will leave for summer vacation for the next two weeks in a few hours. She is updating details and changes to a product design. Once she saves her changes inside her mCAD tool, these changes ripple through to all the people that need to see that information, including product development, procurement – and Jim, the new summer intern. He will be able to pick up all the necessary and updated product information Monday morning and continue to drive progress despite Jane being on vacation. That reduces costs and errors and gets the product to market quicker.

Sharing data with the supply chain

Summer is now over, and we are checking in with Bob again. He is now leading the design for a new product manufactured by an external partner. Bob starts his work and soon fills up a lot of network drive folders with drawings, specifications, requirements, and other design information. Finally, the product documentation is done and ready to be sent to the external partner. Bob starts to collect the required data and sends it across different departments in the company for final approval. Everyone signs off, and Bob sends the production package to the external partner.

A few weeks later, Bob’s company received the final product. But upon inspection, Bob realizes that something is wrong. The final product does not look similar to the intended design. After going through several inspections, Bob discovers that he has accidentally sent an outdated version of the design to the external partner.

Bob and his coworkers feel like they exist inside a glass box and cannot find a way out. All the information they create only applies to them in the glass box. But what about the supply chain? How do they communicate with them? Is it just PDFs or other means of interaction? How can they digitally bring supply chain partners into the company so they can also interact with the data?

Meanwhile, Jane and her company beat the competition again by introducing two new products to the market. Like Bob’s company, Jane outsourced the manufacturing to an external partner. However, the main difference was that Jane could send correct product documentation – not only across the company for final approval – but also to the external manufacturer, confident that she sent the latest and updated version of the product documentation.

Do you have days like this?

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you? If so, then Aras Innovator may be the right tool for you. Fast and effective collaboration across the enterprise and with the supply chain plays an important part in any process in the modern engineering world, so why do so many people like Bob still rely on manual processes that can be prone to human error? This is just one tool that enables engineers like Jane to spend less time chasing loose ends and more time being productive.

Once Bob leaves the design environment, that is where the connection line is cut, and there is little control and association with the data he just created. Bob is stuck in his little bubble with no integration and a lack of a digital thread.

On the other hand, Jane can connect all multi-CAD data to a single PLM system without leaving the CAD tool environment. She can connect through a digital thread and share valuable product data with the entire organization. She has full control in her hands and can create her designs once on her desktop and send them internally to the company, as well as send her manager a high-level view to improve details and out to suppliers.

The Aras Innovator multi-CAD integration enables you to fully leverage your investment by unlocking valuable CAD data for the enterprise and extended enterprise with secure access and permissions while allowing designers to continue working in their familiar CAD tool environment.

Watch the on-demand webinar for more details on the difference between using your preferred multi-CAD and PDM tool with Aras and without to perform everyday engineering tasks.