Last month, we examined why individual engineers and product designers cared more about improving their processes this year than improving their design software. In their view, the two biggest issues slowing down their companies’ time to market were:

  • COMMUNICATION – 89% say they want earlier and better communication between members of their extended design team. This could be addressing miscommunication or not enough communication between internal teams or with external partners – or even missed opportunities to get design feedback from contributors who could have game-changing ideas.
  • VERSION CONTROL – 86% say they need to reduce errors resulting from working on the wrong version of a design or receiving important information too late. These are preventable data management issues that result in costly manufacturing mistakes, and ultimately, a slower time to market.

Those findings came from new independent industry research sponsored by Onshape, a comprehensive survey of 850 product development professionals. You can read the full 26-page “State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2019” research report here.)

Now that we know what individual contributors (a company’s true workhorses) care about, what about their bosses?

In contrast, for managers and executives at these same companies, the top priority for improvement is visibility. 89% of those respondents say they want the ability to monitor their product design team’s progress anytime without having meetings, sending emails, or making phone calls. As in other industries, executives at manufacturing companies want real-time information and actionable data.

Graphic for the State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2019 research report that found that 89 percent of executives and engineering managers say they want real-time access to their design team's progress.

Monitoring the Latest Product Designs Shouldn’t Be Painful

Right now, if a company is using SOLIDWORKS® or any other file-based CAD system, executives usually need to choose one of the following options to see the latest product design:

  • Schedule a design review meeting
  • Ask their team to email the latest files
  • Store the designs in elaborate Product Data Management (PDM) systems, which require CAD users to check files in and out of “the vault”
  • Ask their team to upload the latest files to an FTP site or a storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive

None of these solutions offer real-time access to the design. All of them depend on waiting on other people – and the waits get much longer when you’re working with people in multiple time zones. With the exception of an in-person design review meeting, all of these options rely on sharing copied files, which are vulnerable to the dreaded “Is this version really the latest version?” problem.

How Onshape Delivers 24/7 Project Visibility to Managers and Execs

Screenshot of an Onshape CAD model of Viken Detection portable x-ray device to be used by law enforcement. Viken Detection says Onshape offers instant access to their design team's latest model, enabling real-time progress reports.

When Viken Detection lead engineer Howard Kellogg needs to check the latest up-to-the-minute design for portable x-ray equipment, he is always confident he is looking at the latest version in Onshape.

Viken Detection makes hand-held x-ray devices enabling law enforcement to more easily find illegal contraband without having to needlessly destroy property during a search.

“Onshape gives me the ability to instantly check on the status of a design,” says Howard Kellogg, senior mechanical engineer at Viken Detection. “It’s helpful for me to stay up to date on a project in real time and provide feedback to the team. We don’t even need to have informal design reviews. We can just see each other’s progress anytime.”

With Onshape’s real-time data management, whenever an engineer makes a change or edit to their 3D CAD model, everyone on the design team instantly sees it. A comprehensive Edit History also records who made what changes and when, allowing the team to return to any prior state of the design at any time.

Onshape becomes even more valuable for real-time progress updates when a company is managing multiple designs.

Focus Engineering CEO Tore Bjørkås credits Onshape for helping him better keep track of multiple oil and gas projects spread across multiple time zones.

Focus Engineering CEO Tore Bjørkås says Onshape’s built-in data management eliminates the previous delays experienced with his company’s PDM system.

“Now, we don’t have to wait for people to lock in and lock out files and we are confident that the assembly or the sub-assembly is the latest one,” he says. “And our clients love that we can share the 3D model information with them in real time.”

“We have more than 40 engineers around the world, working on 10 to 20 different projects at any one time,” adds Bjørkås. “Onshape gives us the confidence that we always have the correct information – in one central place – and that it is always updated. Knowing that you have the latest version of a design is absolutely critical – especially when you are running operations in Norway and China across time zones.”

Bjørkås notes he also values Onshape Enterprise dashboards that allow him to more easily monitor up-to-the-minute progress of multiple projects and analyze real-time data such as modeling hours and how they are being allocated. Enterprise Reports detail all user activity within an organization, allowing executives or project managers to better identify bottlenecks and ensure deadlines are being met on time.

“The dashboards can tell me how we can best utilize our resources and when we can reuse what we already have,” he says. “I hope it can also help us automate as many processes as possible. And for our clients, showing the dashboards and explaining how we evaluate their projects will ensure good communication and increase quality.”

Read the Full Research Report

Cover of the independent research report, the state of product development and hardware design 2019 which analyzes current trends needs in manufacturing

Offering insights for small and large companies alike, “The State of Product Development & Hardware Design 2019” includes the input of a broad cross-section of executives, engineering managers, product designers, sales technicians, QA engineers, and CAD administrators.

The 26-page research report from Onshape answers questions such as:

  • What are companies identifying as their top priorities to boost productivity?
  • What obstacles are slowing down product development teams and what can be done to eliminate or reduce those obstacles?
  • What impact do cloud-based technologies have on a company's self-reported productivity and innovation?

To read the full report, download your copy here.