How many CAD systems do you have in your development organization? I do believe more than one. And if you will think about your Product Lifecycle Management future, the obvious need is to connect your multiple CAD environment in the way allows you to manage all your design records, reference your design information in processes, allow downstream design usage in ERP and manufacturing systems. Today, most of the systems claims support for multi-CAD environment. So, what is the deal? I’d like to outline the following characteristics and vendor’s trends in this space:
1. My CAD vs. other CADs. For PLM vendors with origins in CAD space, own CAD systems will be always a priority. This is natural for business and much easy for development to support CAD system that making the same product development release cycle as PDM/PLM environment. Vendor’s “my CAD” interfaces may have additional features that will not be available for “other CADs”.
2. CAD/PDM bundles. Due to previous trend, I can see forming of stable CAD/PDM bundles that provide tuned functional characteristics. Autodesk/ProductStream; SolidWorks/PDMWorks; SolidEdge/TeamCenter; NX/TeamCenter; CATIA/ENOVIA etc. Such bundles can be best in class solution for a specific CAD.
3. No CAD files. This is a very new trend. Introduced in CATIA V6, this trend represents technological morphing of CAD and PDM/PLM environment into a single entity. (Note: With future of Cloud/SaaS, this type of software architecture, can be potentially a very interesting approach, but I will discuss it in separate post).
So, what can be the possible strategy for a company to support multiple CAD in PLM environment? I can see two possible and very obvious options.
Option 1: Focus on PLM vendor selection, choose your PLM environment and maximize usage of multi-CAD interfaces provided by this vendor. If you also thinking about possible reducing of CAD system usages and/or you shifting from multi-CAD environment to “primary CAD” option this can be a good option, in my view.
Option 2: Implement best in class CAD/PDM bundles and think about separate provider of PLM products, services, environment. You can find more appropriated to use PLM system provided by your ERP vendor or use some alternative technologies to build your PLM environment. I posted about this option earlier this year (Which Technology Can Convert Multiple PDMs into a Single PLM).
So, what do you think about these options? Can you share your experience? I’m interested to get your comments and thoughts.