Mobile devices have been used for many years in manufacturing industry and have been used for a wide variety of applications. Recent research by IHS Technology (summarized in the attached infographic) shows that mobile applications in use today include email, collecting data, controlling equipment, accessing manuals, visualization, and scheduling. IHS concluded from this survey that manufacturers are using mobile devices and applications quite widely, but they are not taking advantage of some of the more advanced applications that are now available.
In a recent blog we discussed some new apps that enable access to comprehensive 3D product data on mobile devices. These include standard parts catalogs from a large number of component suppliers that can now be searched and interrogated on mobile devices, and mobile CAD viewing apps like the Solid Edge Mobile Viewer. These apps are aimed more at consumers of design data, for example maintenance engineers working in a remote area of the factory who are now able to search for and order a spare part to fix a machine problem, and manufacturing personnel who can now rapidly access comprehensive design data to ensure that products being manufactured meet the design specification.
So to what extent are these mobile viewing apps being used today? In a 2014 survey of personnel in a variety of manufacturing industries Lifecycle Insights asked about their working practices with respect to engineering documentation. The survey results are summarized in the attached infographic and showed 59% are using CAD applications on desktops to consume 3D annotated data, 31% are using 3D authoring applications on laptops and 20% of the respondents are already using mobile apps on tablet devices to consume 3D annotated data. I think this confirms the trend to access 3D design data on more mobile devices. You can read the full report in Lifecycle Insights “The Model Based Enterprise Study” and find out more about how firms are creating and consuming 3D annotated product models and improving communication between design and manufacturing.
A further step is to enable full 3D CAD software on mobile devices. But is this really needed? Shouldn’t design engineers remain tied to their workstations in the design office? We believe that designers can be more productive when they collaborate more effectively with suppliers, customers and their colleagues in manufacturing. Having full access to their design projects while on the shop floor and when traveling, and being able to investigate and propose potential design changes before they return to the office will be a big step forward here.
These exciting developments in mobility for designers will be discussed in more detail in a webinar hosted by Engineering.com on the 26th February. You can register here to see how Microsoft and Siemens view these developments – and hear the real world experience of Solid Edge user Trlby Innovative. Or if you are in the USA or Canada you can check here to see if there is an event in our “New trends in product development” series near you. And if you want to see more specifically how Solid Edge has been configured to work effectively on mobile devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, please watch the video below and let us know if you agree that designers can benefit from full CAD applications running on mobile devices.