When I worked for a print newspaper, communication between the people who designed the pages and the people who actually printed the paper was essential to delivering the news on time to tens of thousands of readers (who actually bought print papers…yes, it was a retirement town). 

There was a careful system put in place to get page design files to the printing press. Because the two teams were able to collaborate closely, the rather small group of page designers and printing press workers in two different locations were able to seamlessly produce stacks of newspapers every night, ready for delivery.

But compared to the typical and much more complex product development workflow, the challenges that come with printing newspapers are pretty minor. 

However, the bottom line remains the same: Continuous improvement in the workflow was necessary to keep costs manageable and make customers happy.

In a webinar, Onshape Technical Content Director Mike LaFleche and Onshape Product Management Vice President Graham Birch discuss the problems with the software used for many product development processes and how switching to cloud-native tools can unlock new, agile workflows. 

Complex Workflows: CAD, PDM, and PLM

Product development is a team sport involving many players (departments, suppliers) and different rules (software, machines, materials) for playing the game, according to Graham. To understand the process as a whole, you’ll have to glean information from an assortment of software systems including CAD, product data management (PDM), and product lifecycle management (PLM), plus work around servers, VPNs, and network drives. 

“It’s all the different scotch-tape-and-bubble-gum type solutions that get these systems put together,” Mike said.

a typical convoluted process

However, all product development processes involve two cycles, Graham explained. The innovation cycle comes first, which is the engineering, designing, and defining of the product. The execution cycle follows and is just as it sounds: The building of the physical product. 

When an issue arises in the innovation cycle, the cost of change increases, the cost of delay pushes completion back, and manufacturers are forced to play the waiting game.

Many of these issues can be pinpointed to file-based CAD and the PDM software that keeps that CAD data somewhat organized – at the cost of siloing off essential design data. Bring in PLM software that compliance, operations, and manufacturers rely on, you won’t only get an alphabet soup of acronyms, but also of product information. 

Integrating PLM Basics into CAD and PDM

“We are in 2022 pushing into 2023, there has to be a better way,” Graham said. “And there is: It’s cloud-native product development.” 

Onshape offers a cloud-native CAD platform with built-in PDM, or, as Onshape Founder Jon Hirschtick puts it, “next-generation PDM.” Onshape solves many issues found in file-based software, including no time wasted on installing software, updating licenses, accessing the correct files, and dealing with any hardware limitations. 

With the cloud Arena PLM connection, design data from Onshape can be easily communicated throughout the entire product development process. This integration allows information to flow seamlessly between the innovation and execution cycles, all without the traditional costs and administration of a CAD and PLM integration.

“Because it's all in the cloud, there's no check-in, check-out [of CAD files]. There's no additional piece of software. It's just simply sync-and-link and the information appears in Arena PLM,” Graham said. “There’s no, ‘Does your Bill of Materials look like my Bill of Materials?’”

the new cloud ecosystem

The synchronization of information allows teams in downstream functions to make informed decisions about materials and suppliers, and give feedback. With one button, teams are able to accelerate new product introduction (NPI) and new product development (NPD) processes, facilitate continuous improvement, and simplify collaboration on accurate information.

At no additional cost, the Onshape-Arena Connection is available for all Onshape Enterprise users who also have Arena Launch or Arena Scale.

See what the connection looks like yourself by watching the on-demand webinar, Introducing Onshape’s Native Connection to Arena PLM

The Onshape-Arena Connection

Get a first look at the next level of connecting people, processes, and product development information in the cloud.