Agile Designers Need Real-Time Data Management

By Jon Hirschtick / November 10, 2016

In my last two blogs, we explored how forward-thinking companies are striving to speed up their time to market and boost innovation through a new approach to manufacturing: Agile Design. We looked at how full-cloud CAD enables real-time deployment for design teams, allowing them to provide new employees, contractors or partners instant access to their CAD system and CAD data on any computer, phone or tablet.

But that’s only half the story. Once a design team gets instant access to full-cloud CAD, what do they do with it? And why does its workflow differ dramatically from the traditional CAD software installed on individual computers?

Take a look at the map below from Scotrenewables Tidal Power, an Onshape customer that is developing 500-ton floating turbines that convert wave energy into electricity.

The five red circles you see are offices and field testing sites spread across the Orkney Islands, a remote archipelago off the coast of Scotland and home to some of the world’s most powerful tides. A sixth site, a branch office in Edinburgh on the mainland, is partially obscured on the map by a photograph. Scotrenewables also works closely with the European Marine Energy Centre as well as partners in Germany and Switzerland.

Scotrenewables’ mechanical engineering team is currently collaborating with four industrial partners and two engineering consulting firms on conceptual redesigns to reduce fabrication and maintenance costs of the turbine.

At the recent DEVELOP3D LIVE Boston conference, Scotrenewables engineer William Annal explained how Onshape’s unique simultaneous editing – not possible with traditional CAD or PDM systems – makes real-time collaboration feasible.

“How do we go about managing all these partners that contribute to our design? We’re having to rethink the way we approach design,” he said. “With Onshape, CAD data can be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s the office, shop floor or the field. Everybody sees the changes made to the models instantaneously. All changes are migrated to all users because it’s all in the cloud.”

“Onshape is a very fast platform for conceptual development and rooting out new ideas,” Annal added.

You can watch the full Scotrenewables presentation on “Agile Product Design for Sustainable Energy” here:

Onshape’s Real-Time Data Management

Onshape is the only full-cloud CAD system, with no files and no copies, designed for optimal performance over the Internet. Onshape is the first and only professional 3D CAD system where the CAD system and the CAD data live in one place in the cloud. Neither the CAD system nor the CAD data are ever copied anywhere.

Because of this real-time single source of truth, when anyone anywhere makes an edit, everyone everywhere can instantly see it.

Contrast this with file-based CAD and PDM systems, which only update when people check in copies of files and then others recopy the data to their own computers. Copies create confusion. You’re always wondering if the design you’re working on is really the latest version.

Onshape’s lock-free simultaneous editing ensures:

  • Easy collaboration even when teams are spread across multiple sites in multiple countries
  • There will be no worries about overwriting each other’s work
  • That fast-moving design teams work in parallel (multiple people at the same time) instead of serially (one person at a time)

The serial workflows of traditional CAD and PDM systems are anti-agile. One of my favorite stories demonstrating this involves an engineer bodyblocking a co-worker in the parking lot to get access to some important CAD files. The engineer knew his colleague was going on vacation and had not checked in those files back to the company PDM system. Without the parking lot intervention, his project would be further delayed for days!

Onshape is a new generation CAD system that lets teams work together without costly PDM systems, without checkout, and without copies. Cutting out all that dead time – the waiting, the copying, the syncing, the worrying – makes everyone on the team less stressed and more likely to explore new ideas. That’s time for innovation versus rushing just to get things done.

Customer Feedback: Faster, Better Collaboration

It’s always gratifying when Onshape customers email me to share how full-cloud CAD is speeding up their designs. Here are two recent notes from my inbox:

      • Industrial designer Hans-Christoph Haenlein (California)– “I love what you guys are doing to take advantage of cloud computing when combined with a good 3D modeling environment. As ever, I now wonder what we were thinking back in the days of workstations and multiple software versions, and how we ever managed collaboration and version control.”
      • Marine Engineer Deki Djokic, Managing Director of Concept Design Marine (Singapore)– “Having our team scattered over Asia, Europe and Australia has been a headache for communication and file management. Having multiple CAD files edited by a few team members at the same time was just trying one’s luck, often resulting in a lengthy recovery process from dealing with an always few-days-old backup. Onshape removed that headache. We’re now able to collaborate in real time; it’s like being in one office and working on one computer, no matter where our team members are located.”

As your company continues to become more agile, remember that only Onshape gives you real-time deployment, real-time data management and real-time analytics and controls. No other CAD system in the world does any of them.

I would love to know what your company is doing to speed up design and hear about any new approaches to encouraging innovation. Please drop me a line at success(at)onshape(dot)com and share your good news!

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Topics: Industry Perspectives