CAD data management is at the center of your design team collaboration. You need a system to share and collaborate on design files, see designs created in other CAD tools, and run simple workflows within engineering. You may have very effective CAD data management, but the question is whether it’s enough to support your business today … and the growth you anticipate tomorrow.
As Spiegel says, “Collaboration has become a must as product development teams move to speed time-to-market. Rather than shifting the product from one team or discipline to another -- say from CAD drawings to material analysis to simulation -- multiple disciplines can weigh in simultaneously.”
Any CAD data management tool that locks down the product information within the CAD system, itself, is only available to those people who have access to the CAD system – the “power users.” The key is to unlock that CAD data in CAD-neutral formats, but even then there need to be automated systems to deliver the designs to the right people at the right time in multiple locations. And include them in workflows relevant to their work tasks – whether it’s a design review or product change. More people, at more sites -- within and outside the business -- need to be included in the PDM system than in the past, which is especially true for small to medium sized businesses that are often stretching what they have (CAD data management) rather than investing in something new (PDM).
Interoperability and System-wide Coexistence
“One of the biggest changes is that systems that previously focused primarily on mechanics are beginning to accommodate electronics,” writes Spiegel, commenting on the need to include electronics and support regulatory compliance of these product. He comments later, “The interoperability of multiple design systems also keeps the design team from wandering into the wilderness. For example, designers can find out whether a particular material will meet weight and stress limits in the digital world and use the PLM plant to share the results across the various disciplines.”
While CAD data management is typically focused on mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD), most products today include some electronic components, which require electronic computer-aided design (ECAD). The challenge is to bring together the MCAD and the ECAD data. That’s why today’s PDM systems need to accommodate the breadth of applications and processes that are used across the business. And rather than trying to include all those capabilities within one PDM software application, the PDM application itself needs to manage the different file types and processes.