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Concurrent Engineering Blog

Is CAD Consolidation the Answer to Interoperability Problems?

Posted by Emma Rudeck on 01-May-2014 14:55:00

CAD diversificationThere’s been a trend towards CAD diversification for many years. But, the capabilities in modern CAD tools are starting to reverse this trend.

Before we look at these capabilities and the effect they are having on CAD consolidation, let’s have a look at why this is currently a problem for many manufacturers. Based on a study on 3D Collaboration and Interoperability, carried out in 2013, it was revealed that:

  • 49% of engineers spend four hours each week mending broken design data
  • Half of engineers have to work overtime
  • Nearly a third of engineers have missed deadlines in product development plans because of interoperability issues
  • 29% of engineers have ordered incorrect parts.

What are the drivers behind CAD diversification?

Design data comes from a range of sources: suppliers, partners and customer to name a few. Often, these groups will not be using the same CAD system as you, which means the data comes in a different format to the one you use internally.

But, even internal teams can be using different design tools. This is often as a result of acquisition. What happens is, as you have multiple engineering teams from different organisation come together, you end up with multiple teams working in different CAD applications.

You end up with a situation where design data in different CAD formats is shared between teams within your organisation. So, to ensure the data in workable, teams end up working with multiple CAD applications.

If there are problems with diversification, why don’t organisation opt for CAD Consolidation?

While there are clearly issues caused by using design data from different CAD models, there are also roadblocks to achieving CAD consolidation:

  • Cleanly translating models – This involves taking CAD data from all the different formats and using them in a single application.
  • Enabling change – How to you enable change from those different CAD formats
  • Creating associative deliverable – How do you enable associativity from the model to those drawings, manufacturing models and assemblies.

But, overcoming these issues will help to pave the way towards CAD consolidation.

Fundamentally, the problem is that different CAD applications use different calculation engines to figure out the size, location and shape of geometry. When you move from one CAD application to another, you are also going from on calculation engine to another. As a result, that breaks the geometry in the models that you are trying to access.

For so many years, people have assumed that CAD diversification is just a cost of doing business in today’s engineering environment. But, with the introduction of capabilities like Creo Flexible Modelling, this is no longer the case. In fact, it is now a feasible option to consolidate CAD.

You can find out more about the benefits of CAD consolidation here.

If you’d like to try Creo for yourself, you can get a free 30 day trial here:

Creo Free Trial