Strategy 3: Maximize integration and automation
Rooting out redundancy, duplication, and waste is the clarion call of effective CAD leadership. No single product development operation should be performed more than once, and no one should ever have to rebuild an existing model. Any time that design data has to be converted or translated creates opportunities for error. You can minimize the potential for costly errors and eliminate redundant processes by maximizing your use of integrated applications and leveraging automated approaches that fit your development process.
Exporting and importing design data typically occurs whenever you need to move a CAD model into another engineering application, such as an analysis/simulation package, a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) machining system, or a product documentation publishing application. You may even have to manipulate a model’s data format for use in some product data management (PDM) systems. Each of these data translations and/or conversions takes time and creates an opening for error.
You can completely eliminate these issues by using an integrated suite of tools to address analysis/simulation, CAM, documentation, and PDM requirements. To achieve the greatest benefits, make sure that your integrated tools operate on the actual CAD model, rather than through an import/export paradigm. That way, you can rest assured that you have removed a major source of redundancy from your operations.
Design automation tools can also help you to minimize repetitive steps. For example, you can use design configurations, which build a complete set of models with varying attributes (e.g., size, weight, length), from a single base design, to create product families and maximize design reuse. CAD-integrated Knowledge-Based Engineering (KBE) systems can help you automatically create models of engineered-to-order designs. If you use a CAD system with an open Applications Programming interface (API), you can even automate routine, repetitive CAD tasks.
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*This article is an excerpt from the "Ten Strategies for Becoming an Effective CAD Leader White Paper", published by DS SolidWorks Corp.