Despite advances in nearly every area of product development technology, effective collaboration still seems to be a struggle for manufacturers. The tools that enable safe and efficient collaboration–both internally and externally–between design teams and their partners, suppliers and internal design participants have been sorely lacking. As a result, engineers and designers have used a hodgepodge of tools (DropBox, FTP sites, email, etc.), most of which have their own shortcomings.
The cloud seems to offer an ideal platform for design collaboration. People can access it anywhere, at anytime, and from nearly any device, both desk-bound and mobile. Cloud-based platforms also offer infinite storage capabilities so even the biggest of design files can be stored, saved and shared.
A Gartner study on collaboration among manufacturers found cloud-based tools to be the fastest growing category of collaboration tools—both for internal collaboration as well as working with external partners. Another recent study found that 50% of makers “make things with others,” while 41% indicated that “others use what they make.”
These studies underscore two things: 1) how commonplace collaboration has become when it comes to making things; and 2) how the tools that aid collaboration have evolved beyond the project management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems of yesteryear, and migrated to the cloud.
Autodesk rolls out new release of A360
Autodesk last week released updates to its A360 project-based collaboration tool and rolled out A360 Team in North America. Ideal for hardware starts-ups, small and medium-sized business professionals who need a way to work together more efficiently, A360 is a tool that brings together people, design and project data, ensuring everyone is informed and involved. Unlike other collaboration or communication tools, A360 is the only design and engineering collaboration solution that puts the project at the center, enabling teams to work together effortlessly.
New features in A360 include the ability for users to view more than 100 2D and 3D design file formats within their browser without downloads or plug-ins, and an advanced search that goes far beyond text search and lets users easily locate components embedded within models, assemblies and designs.
With the A360 mobile app, you can view large 3D and 2D models, easily track what’s happening on your project and collaborate with other members of your team anytime, anywhere from any device. A360 mobile supports both online and offline workflows, allowing teams to stay on track with recent changes and updates.
In addition, Autodesk is introducing A360 Team in North America for $10/month/user (free for students), as well as a basic free version of A360 for individuals.
Opening up Design Collaboration to Non-Engineers
Autodesk has targeted mostly designers and engineers, but there are all kinds of other people who contribute to making the whole project successful. A360 provides the tools to enable all stakeholders to be involved in a project – content creators, collaborators and consumers.
“A360 has been a really accessible tool for us,” said Calvin Domenico III, president of DGF Technologies. “Team members that were not previously involved in design are now coming on board and beginning to not only contribute to existing projects, but to take on new initiatives and expand our entire team’s skill set.”
Some of the main pain points that A360 addresses for project teams include:
* Project coordination: A typical employee is involved in five different projects at a time; larger projects can have upwards of 50 people from the same company involved in a project
* Change tracking and design rework: Designers and engineers need to be able to perform quick iterations, keep track of changes, and maintain version control – ~60% of designers and engineers recreate models due to incompatible software or miscommunication
* Scattered communications: Communication is largely informal and disconnected – A typical employee uses an average of 2-3 communication tools (does not include f2f meetings, instant messaging, and phone)
* Sharing project information and viewing design data: Not all contributors to a project are designers or engineers. Non-engineers use different tools that create different outputs and types of data.
* Sharing large files: According to a recent customer survey, 77% of designers and engineers rely on PDFs for red marking and commenting on designs
* Finding data in complex design assemblies and archives: Not all data is available through basic search and important details are often inaccessible or extremely hard to find. Results of that same survey showed that designers spend 43% of their time on finding and aggregating information
Do you struggle from some of these same challenges? Sign up for a free trial of A360 Team by signing up here.