In industries that rely on CAD, teamwork and design collaboration are paramount. A design needs to be accessible for CAD engineers to add, edit, and remove parts, for design teams to sharpen up the product, and for executives to approve final versions. Design collaboration grants easy access to CAD designs while dodging common Product Data Management (PDM) issues.  

At a time when remote work via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx and other video conferencing platforms have replaced daily face-to-face interactions, many business leaders — including those that don’t use CAD —  are turning to cloud and digital solutions to deliver improved connectivity and collaboration. This growing trend is being noted by leading industry analysts. 

A recent McKinsey & Company report, The Covid-19 Recovery Will be Digital, characterized the acceleration of digital transformation due to the pandemic as follows, “We have vaulted 5 years forward in consumer and business adoption of digital in a matter of 8 weeks.”  

Adoption of cloud technologies by business has seen a similar rapid acceleration. A recent survey by Snow, How the New Normal is Changing Cloud Usage and Strategy, concluded that 82% of IT leaders reported that they had increased their adoption of cloud-based technology in the past year. It is no secret that the pandemic acted as a catalyst for embracing cloud technologies across industries. 

How File-Based CAD Obstructs Design  Collaboration

When it comes to improving design collaboration and communication during the product development process, one area that product leaders are now focusing on for improvement is their legacy, file-based CAD system. Increasingly, product leaders are recognizing the significant limitations that these on-premise CAD systems place on effective design collaboration. 

These challenges include the need for users to serially copy, save and email or upload versions of design files. As a result, when users make a design change and download and edit a file, their teams constantly battle version control issues, and are left wondering which file holds the most updated design. .  

For firms that choose to use “add-on” file-based PDM or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) as their CAD data management system, other problems quickly emerge. Design collaboration becomes impeded as designers and engineers are saddled with additional administrative tasks including “checking in” and “checking out” files and waiting for files to become available.  

Indeed, the limitations of file-based on-premise systems are only becoming more pronounced as leading product design teams seek to expand team members to include core stakeholders across the company (such as operations and manufacturing). Unfortunately, at a time when the need for sharing real-time design data is only growing, access to file-based designs remains limited to those in the organization with expensive CAD workstations.  

The bottom line? Fundamentally, PDM and PLM data management systems were not designed to support multiple-user design collaboration, never mind the new requirements of remote-access and extended teamwork.   

How Cloud-Based CAD Facilitates Design Collaboration 

In contrast to legacy CAD systems, the cloud-native Onshape Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform enables designers and engineering teams to collaborate on the same design Document simultaneously. Miscommunication is significantly reduced and designs can be improved as users share ideas in real-time. Onshape’s cloud database architecture provides a single source of truth that eliminates version control issues and improves design collaboration. 

How are Onshape customers benefiting from creating their products in the cloud? Dan Scoville, Head of Engineering at OceanGate, a manufacturer of submersibles for exploration, says Onshape’s cloud design platform helped his engineering team stay connected and be more collaborative during the initial uncertainty and turmoil of the COVID-19 crisis.  

“From a work-from-home standpoint, Onshape was great because it was already all set up,” Scoville says. “When we decided to all go home, there was zero effort on my part. Everybody had full access to their models, they didn't have to worry about if they brought their desktop home. None of that was a concern. If (team members) had a computer, they could get on and run with it.”

The Oceangate Titan, designed in Onshape, is a submersible with a depth range of 4,000 meters. The Titan visited the Titanic in 2021.

Today, as product leaders address the challenges of COVID-19, and seek to empower their design and engineering teams, those who are using cloud SaaS platforms across their business are significantly improving collaboration and communication. In addition to successfully addressing the challenges these teams are facing today, the flexibility and scalability that these cloud-based solutions provide are enabling leading product firms to prepare for “What’s Next” in the years ahead. 

The Product Innovation Imperative

Interested in learning more about how cloud productivity tools are better enabling design collaboration, teamwork, and product innovation? 

The Product Innovation Imperative” is Onshape’s guide for engineering and manufacturing leaders to pressure test their own organizations to identify areas of improvement. In this eBook, you’ll explore the following business-critical topics:

  • How manufacturing companies are responding to the “New Normal” of remote work and challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic

  • Why product development teams are now aggressively adopting digital and cloud productivity tools for sustainable advantage  

  • How earlier team communication and collaboration impacts product innovation

  • How market dominance can quickly erode if innovation becomes an afterthought

  • How a cloud-native SaaS product development platform differs from legacy, on-premise CAD and product data management systems

The end of each chapter includes a checklist of “Essential Questions for Your Product Development Team” to assist you in re-evaluating your current innovation strategies and formulating new ones.

Get your free copy of “The Product Innovation Imperative” today!