Communication is one of the most important skills employers and recruiters look for when hiring. 

Why? To put it simply, good communicators make work easier. Projects flow smoothly from A to Z. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and by when. That is if other factors don’t interfere, like corrupt files or an email that was sent to spam. 

If employers expect team members to be effective communicators, then why not expect the same from the tools used to get work done – especially in the product development and manufacturing industries.

Engineers and manufacturers are still dealing with outdated software that prevents clear communication and the ability to work together easily, according to insights from the “Preventing Product Design Bottlenecks” infographic. 

In a time of remote work, there’s no reason to hold onto the tools and software that keep teams from doing just that – being a team. Let’s take a deeper look:

The Problem: Ineffective Team Communication 

Legacy, file-based computer-aided design (CAD) software wasn’t built with communication in mind, and we can tell. 

When using file-based CAD systems, engineers usually need to choose one of these four options to share their work: 

  1. Email files;
  2. Put them in elaborate Product Data Management (PDM) systems which require CAD users to check out files from “the vault”; 
  3. Put them on an FTP site; 
  4. Use a storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

All of these options involve partners sending files back and forth and waiting for feedback. 

Also, unless two engineers are physically sitting next to each other, it is difficult to simultaneously collaborate on the same 3D model. Clunky collaboration tools exist that involve sharing a computer screen on a videoconferencing site and getting on the phone. 

However, multiple engineers can’t be creating or edit the same model at the same time. They have to work serially, one person at a time.

The Solution: Secure & Instant CAD File Sharing

Onshape’s cloud Sharing feature allows companies to securely and instantly collaborate with a colleague, vendor, customer or partner by granting them editing, commenting or view-only access rights to a CAD model. Equally valuable is the ability to instantly withdraw outside access to your designs when a project is over, reducing the risk of unintentionally leaking your intellectual property.

Onshape’s built-in collaboration tools allow multiple people to simultaneously work on the same part or assembly. When anyone, anywhere makes a design change, everyone else on the team instantly sees it.

That’s the solution Avidbots was looking for when looking for new CAD software. Avidbots, based in Kitchener, Ontario, designs fully autonomous floor-scrubbing robots for airports, malls, hospitals and more.

A floor-scrubbing robot by Avidbots.

The product development team needed a new CAD platform after realizing how their file-based on-premise system was slowing down communication.

“Our design team is working on improvements every day. We know what we want to build. Our challenge has been communicating rapid iterations across the organization,” said Ian Gardiner, Senior Mechanical Engineering Specialist in Mechatronics Engineering. “And not just in our local facility, but across a set of teams that are distributed worldwide because we also work with partners.” 

The problems with their old system kept growing along with communication issues that amounted to hours of lost time. 

“Email and spreadsheets were our typical way of sharing information, but with these older CAD systems, a lot of your data gets buried within the system. You have to purchase extra licenses and/or add-ons to make CAD available to people,” he told Onshape. “So we would export PDF drawings and put them into folders that people could access. But these are disconnected from the real models that are being developed day by day. Half our team’s time used to be spent constantly reproducing and updating changes.”

Switching to Onshape provided the Avidbots team with one single source of truth across the organization. Whenever one member of the team makes a change, everyone else can instantly see it. Sharing a design can be done in one click. Accessing a design from anywhere is as simple as clicking a link.

“With Onshape, our collaboration process is much more fluid and allows everyone more direct access to the CAD models,” Gardiner said. “It frees us up to focus on our highest value tasks which are solving design challenges like the best way to capture squeegee water. We can’t leave any streaks on the customers’ floors.”

Efficient Team Communication 

In “Preventing Product Design Bottlenecks” eBook, learn how to address the following problems that happen frequently with file-based CAD:


Get your free copy today and explore why cloud-native CAD will save time, build business agility and unburden your team from outdated software.

Preventing Product Design Bottlenecks

In this eBook, explore the six ways file-based CAD slows you down and what you can do about it.