BETA Technologies was an early adopter of Onshape in 2017 (about a year after Onshape’s commercial release). When Verna started work on the ALIA, the company only had four employees. Today, BETA has more than 250 employees.
After spending more than two decades using legacy file-based CAD systems at his previous jobs, Verna says he was seeking to start with his new engineering team all working with a single source of truth in the cloud.
“In the beginning, we were a tiny scrappy company and we had to prove that we knew what we’re doing,” he recalls. “That meant iterating quickly, and the cloud-native nature of Onshape was critical to us because it meant we weren’t going to lose anything. Everybody could easily work on the same designs, they could find everything, and you didn't have to have a bunch of rules about where you save stuff, when it was saved last, or who has checked it out.”
With Onshape’s real-time data management, multiple engineers can simultaneously work on the same CAD model without fear of overwriting each other’s work. Whenever one team member makes a change, everyone else on the team can instantly see it. A comprehensive Edit History tracks who made which changes and when, allowing the team to quickly revert to any prior state of the design if desired.
“Onshape’s user experience is more fluid, and we’re able to work faster,” Verna adds. “It’s tough to quantify exactly how much faster, but as you use it more, you start to realize, ‘Wow. I've been using Onshape the last three weeks and it hasn't crashed,’ or, ‘I haven't saved and I didn't lose three hours of work,’ and “Oh, I'm working with somebody else and we can find the same version.’”
With some BETA engineers using Macs and others preferring Linux, the team also values the fact that Onshape runs on multiple operating systems and on any computer, tablet or phone (iOS or Android). Onshape’s cloud-native platform also facilitates remote collaboration and distributed teams. While most of the BETA product development team is based in Vermont, they are spread out between four buildings, and Verna is based in North Carolina.
SaaS-Delivered Software Upgrades Reduces IT Burden
As a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform, Onshape is able to release automatic upgrades in the cloud every three weeks, delivering new features, improvements and functionality. The releases don’t require any downloads or installations, eliminating the downtime typically required with on-premise software upgrades. The engineering team can keep on working uninterrupted without needing to involve the company’s IT department.
“I really like how the updates often have a surprise in there for you that's something you've been looking for,” Verna says. “So many times I’ve thought, "Oh, I've been really waiting for something like this and now it's available!’"
“And Onshape always works,” he adds. “In my experience, I’ve had trouble with other CAD tools that make an update and then things don't work like they should or we can't use it while it's updating. Plus, the frequency of Onshape’s releases is significant as most other CAD packages release new improvements only once a year.”
Success on the Horizon