3D CAD Access in Manufacturing and PLM Improvement

3D CAD Access in Manufacturing and PLM Improvement

An interesting report was published by SearchManufacturingERP.com few days ago – Report: Wider access to 3D CAD images can improve PLM by David Essex. According to the Joe Barkai of IDC, the key topic is “multi-disciplinary collaboration” and an ability to take a decision early in the process. However, article presented PLM improvement in a very unusual way. It turns PLM systems back to their origins – 3D CAD views. The ability to share 3D design information downstream – this is one of the keys enables to improve productivity and improve decision making.

In my view, the key passage is the following one:

Technology like 3D CAD design software, simulation, and virtual reality can encourage collaboration by synthesizing product data sources and making them accessible to broader communities of decision makers, according to the report.

Visual information has the most impact in the “process interfaces” where departments hand off decisions to one another, Barkai said. For example, by improving visualization in product lifecycle management (PLM), companies can see how designing better quality into a product can reduce service costs.

What is my take? It sounds to me like “back to roots” call. PLM providers are spending significant efforts to deploy a broad range of process improvement tools. However, sharing of 3D data downstream and teamwork, especially in multi-CAD environments are still not perfect.

Just my opinion.

Best, Oleg


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  • Maarten Romers

    Even in “single CAD” environments it isn’t common sense. Within a company you can share 3D data most easy by sharing the same CAD system. using 3D visual data like JT data can also be shared but with Teamcenter used to be a cumbersome process. Hope this will be better in the new versions. But what people really want is fast viewing, so no PDM software eating all resources on your computer or no CAD system to be learned for non CAD users.
    I think best would be the ability to export snapshots from the PDM system to be used “stand alone”.
    Like Adobe 3D? or a monolithic viewer file, viewer included.

  • beyondplm

    Maarten, thanks for your comment! 3DLive, JT, 3DXML, XVL, products like 3DVIA, Cortona3D, RH and many others. Lately announced HD3D from Siemens. All these formats and products are focusing on collaboration and sharing data. Do you see a complexity as a main problem? Or, vendors are protecting data / formats? Best, Oleg

  • A colleague of mine was consulting for an automaker and stumbled on the following ‘quality’ problem:
    – Rolls of steel are provided to a stamping plant, which then stamps the steel to form parts
    – Sometimes the steel splits, meaning not only that this part must be scrapped, but that every other part from that roll of steel must be found and scrapped. (Hello MES)
    – The quality of the steel is based on a particular price per ton; higher price => higher quality => fewer splits, but purchasing chose a lower price of steel to meet sales demands.
    – But splitting steel is not solely a function of quality, it is also a function of the radius of curvature of the formed part. Broad sweeping curves are less likely to split than are tight corners.
    – The shape of a sheet metal part is based on many things, not least of which are sales, design, and functionality constraints.

    So this seems like a PLM problem to me, and while 3D might not be a requirement, it sure would help. What if representatives of Design, Purchasing and Stamping used 3D while discussing the cost/value curves of part shape, material cost, and manufacturing non-conformance, all before the stamping dies are created?

    As humans we can better process information through our visual cortex (3D) than through our auditory (sound/text). To be Lean and profitable while achieving quality expectations we need better communication across the enterprise. There is a huge value prop for cross-domain 3D communication, but instead of CAD tools, how about XBox Live?

    OK, so maybe you need a mouse/keyboard to create annotations, but to move 3D outside of relatively few designers (computer-aided _design_) and into the rest of the enterprise requires (imho) an easy, light-weight tool for distribution, much like Adobe 3D as mentioned in the article.

  • beyondplm

    Patrick, I understand what you are saying. However, I see lots of situations where distribution of 3D data can improve collaboration and decision making. 3D data can be distributed in a variety of forms – pure 3d and lightweight 3d (i.e. XVL). Best, Oleg