As the Covid-19 pandemic spread rapidly across the globe in 2020 and 2021, design collaboration became more important than ever in the CAD industry. Typical Product Data Management (PDM) issues were amplified as much of the world shifted to a remote environment. Working from different locations added another layer of difficulty to checking CAD designs in and out of PDM systems. 

Video conferencing software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams experienced unprecedented demand as companies scrambled to maintain communication and collaboration while many employees were forced to work at home. As the saying goes, “You never realize what you have until it’s gone.” 

In the Computer Aided Design (CAD) industry, product design teams that had been using Onshape’s cloud-based design collaboration features prior to the pandemic transitioned smoothly into a remote working environment. Others began to realize the power of being able to collaborate on designs with colleagues stationed at newly constructed at-home workspaces around the world. Whether your design team consists of two people or 50, Onshape’s design collaboration and cloud-based features allow engineers to simultaneously work on a CAD project together, regardless of location, while dodging Product Data Management (PDM) issues. 

Here are 6 ways using Onshape’s cloud-based product development platform will improve the design collaboration for your CAD team: 

1. Improved Communication with Colleagues and Partners
With Onshape, you can share your design documents with colleagues or outside partners and they will get immediate access to your CAD model – similar to how they would if you were sharing a Google Doc with them. Your recipient will then be able to open up your design on their laptop using any web browser, and watch as you move around the design and explain your process. Onshape’s Follow Mode and Comments features allow you and your vendor to communicate effectively while you walk them through your design.

2. Simultaneous Editing
With Onshape, multiple users can simultaneously edit the same CAD model. This means that large projects can be assigned to an entire team at one time instead of just one person. Rather than waiting for a design to be checked back into a PDM system, an entire CAD team can collaborate on a design at the same time or asynchronously. And because Onshape updates in real time, everyone will instantly see when a change has been made.

 

3. Design Reviews
Onshape is a fully cloud-based CAD tool. This means you can share your models with anyone and no installation is required. Now your designs can be more easily reviewed by sales, management, and the shop floor Your designs are even accessible from a phone or tablet using the Onshape mobile app (Android or iOS).

4. Sharing Designs With Manufacturers or Vendors
Onshape’s design collaboration features allow for seamless sharing with internal or external parties. Sharing CAD designs with manufacturers or vendors has two major benefits: 1. The manufacturer can decide whether it is even possible to manufacture the CAD design in its facilities; and 2. The manufacturer can prepare its facilities early on to speed up the time to market. Using these cloud-based design collaboration features, CAD teams can share their designs with stakeholders, such as manufacturers, without delaying the product development process.
 
5. CAD Mobility 
I recently read an article about the best computers for CAD design and was shocked by the storage and processing power recommendations and the accompanying price tags. As a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, Onshape can be run on a web browser using a device as simple as an Android cellphone so long as it has internet access. CAD design team members can pull their phones out, open up a CAD file, and review the design while they stand in line for coffee. Thanks to Onshape’s cloud-based design collaboration features, engineering team members will have access to their CAD design in the palm of their hands at all times. A project manager can voice his or her opinions or give suggestions from anywhere and they will show up for all of his or her team members in real time. 
 
6. Task Assignments
By allowing engineers to assign tasks to design team colleagues, Onshape enables frictionless design collaboration. Instead of writing down a task or remembering it from a team meeting, when a design team member opens up their CAD design, they will have their tasks laid out right in front of them. This avoids a common issue of PDM systems when a design is checked out and the wrong parts are completed or the right parts are completed in the wrong areas. Onshape’s Task Assignment feature reduces uncertainty as to who is doing what, removing tension between team members. Its cloud-based design collaboration features only add to the seamlessness of workflow.

Watch the video at the top of this post for more tips on cloud-based collaboration. Onshape's data management system operates in conjunction with collaboration to eliminate version control conflicts. Say goodbye to checking out CAD files from a PDM system or sharing them by email or Dropbox – and start spending more of your design team’s time on designing!