It’s Halloween time and if you’re a product designer or manufacturer, there are things far more frightening than the latest monster movie.
Before you grab another fistful of candy corn or mini Kit Kats, allow us to guide you through a virtual haunted house of workflow nightmares that unfortunately visit all year round. Without further ado, here are the 9 scariest things related to using clunky, file-based CAD systems and how Onshape makes these horrifying experiences disappear:
Nothing makes you wish for decapitation more than losing your work to a computer crash. It’s impossible for developers to test every possible combination of hardware and software out there, so problems are inevitable. Even just installing a new kind of software, such as an innocuous Windows update, can interfere with your CAD system. Crashes not only cause you to lose your work, but also the time required to recreate that work. (Solution: Onshape puts your CAD system in the cloud and off your hard drive, eliminating disastrous software combinations. Redundant servers ensure you’ll never lose your work again.)
It’s not uncommon for project managers to wait forever to give new engineers access to CAD. They first need to buy a new license code from their Value Added Reseller (VAR), a process that can take days or weeks depending on the VAR’s responsiveness. Then the IT department needs to provision a computer and devote several hours for installation per CAD seat. When engineers are ready to CAD, the CAD usually isn’t ready for them. (Solution: Onshape offers real-time CAD deployment. Whenever a new member is added to a design team, he or she can start working in minutes, on all of their computers, phones and tablets.)
TREACHEROUS TECH SUPPORT!
Do you sadistically enjoy getting the silent treatment? Historically, the CAD industry has a horrific reputation for ignoring customers when they file bug reports or enhancement requests. Radio silence. (Solution: Onshape has a built-in Feedback tool that puts you in direct contact with Onshape Support. When you send in a request, you get emailed an acknowledgement of receipt and can track the status of your ticket anytime. Many Onshape customers report having their issues resolved within days or even hours.)
It’s extremely rare today that a product is designed and manufactured with only one CAD system. If you’re not using the same CAD system (and software version) as your customer/supplier/partner, you can’t open their files. If you can’t open their files, your work screeches to an abrupt halt. (Solution: Onshape can import and export a wide variety of 3D file formats, meaning you don’t need to know upfront which CAD system or software version your business partner is using. Say goodbye to incompatibility issues!)
SINISTER SOFTWARE VERSIONS!
Even if you and your design partners are using the same CAD vendor, if you’re using version 2021 and they are using version 2019, you still cannot read each other’s files. Brand loyalty means zilcho. Upgrade now or suffer at your own peril! (Solution: Every Onshape user in the world is always on the same software version – the latest one.)
DETESTABLE DATA MANAGEMENT!
If you haven’t heard Onshape founder Jon Hirschtick’s horror story about an engineer bodyblocking a co-worker’s car in the parking lot to get access to a locked CAD file, you need to add it to your campfire rotation. With Product Data Management (PDM) systems, only one person can check out and work on a file at a time. This is to avoid the problem of team members overwriting each other’s work, but it inevitably slows everyone down. (Solution: Onshape has built-in version control and records your complete edit history. You always know who made what edit and when. There is no need for a costly and cumbersome PDM add-on.)
THE PIT AND THE PDM-ULUM!
Halloween is the only time of year the Onshape blog editors let me use horrific puns, so I’m taking full advantage of this opportunity. If you recall the Edgar Allan Poe classic, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” you remember that the seemingly doomed narrator is tied down with a swinging pendulum-mounted blade about to slice him to pieces. Well, the horrors of PDM deserve two spots on this list. Although PDM systems don’t actually inflict physical harm, they can be psychological torture.
LOATHSOME LEARNING CURVES!
Most CAD systems are difficult to learn, don’t make their product documentation public, and make it tough to get a free trial. Training cannot be set up directly with the CAD company, but needs to go through a third-party vendor. (Solution: Onshape is easy to learn if you have a parametric CAD background. Full product documentation and many training materials are available free online. Live training can be arranged directly and not through a middleman.)
When you buy a car, the total cost of ownership goes way beyond the sticker price. The same thing applies to file-based CAD. A typical seat costs $5,000 or more, requires a $3,000+ workstation plus $2,000 in annual maintenance fees and IT services. The bills never stop coming. (Solution: The Onshape Professional Plan costs $2,100 per user per year, and has no additional IT costs or upgrade fees.)
Think that we’re being a little overdramatic with all the scaremongering adjectives and exclamation points? Perhaps we’re a bit guilty of over-channeling the Halloween spirit. But the pains and frustrations of using file-based CAD will still be here the day after October 31st and the day after that. Thankfully, cloud-native CAD can take most of the fright out of your workday all year round.
Learn how cloud-native CAD can keep the ghosts of lost files at bay and download the Onshape eBook “Preventing Product Design Bottlenecks".
(An earlier version of this blog ran on Halloween 2018.)