A problem that plagues most engineering departments is a lack of any type of structured management of CAD files. Individual engineers might deploy what they regard as a very organized way to manage their own files, giving each meaningful file names and storing them on their hard drive. The problems arise, however, when those files must be shared and worked on by other engineers.
As the number of engineers working on any one project increases, managing those files in a directory structure becomes risky. Using a shared drive can result in issues related to managing multiple design iterations. Finding the most current version of a file can be problematic as can be assuring that another engineer isn’t overwriting the changes you’ve just worked hours to make.
Bring order to chaos
According to several industry surveys and studies, most manufacturers have not implemented any type of organized PDM or PLM system. By continuing to manually manage CAD data, these companies face potentials risks that include lost work, poor productivity, and errors. Common reasons cited for not implementing any type of CAD data management solutions include high cost, too much complexity and a lack of IT resources.
Recognizing the shortcomings and inherent risks associated with manual CAD file management is the first step. The good news is that there are a lot of options available today, including new cloud-based tools. In a newly published Tech-Clarity Insight report, “When Brute Force Fails and PDM is too Much,” the various solutions are explained in detail as well as the basic requirements of a CAD management solution.
Based on industry experience and extensive research, Tech-Clarity makes the following recommendations of organizations looking to improve CAD file management.
5 Steps to better CAD management:
1. Determine your needs. Understand the basics required to control, access, and share your CAD data.
2. Shop around. Evaluate solutions to decide which one is right for your business, based on your organization’s level of process maturity and available IT support.
3. Make it easy to share. This is important as engineers don’t work in a vacuum and must easily share files. Some solutions’ strength is in ease of sharing, while others might focus on a strong control paradigm.
4. Look to the cloud. Consider cloud-based solutions that combine ease of use, less risk, low cost and reduced need for IT resources, but are designed with CAD data management in mind.
5. Get started. In some cases, you might need a more traditional CAD file management solutions, but recognize that putting in place structure of any kind is a step in the right direction and then get going.
To read the entire Tech-Clarity report, download the full report on the Tech-Clarity website.