I want to talk today about data sharing. The interest of engineers and other people in manufacturing organization in data sharing is obvious. However, I think demand is much higher than available tools. It doesn’t mean there are no tools that can help you to share some elements or your 2D, 3D, Bill of Materials or other product data. At the same time, tools in the market are very vendor oriented and specialized to support different formats and applications.
What Tools Are Around?
The top question I had been asked many times when visiting customers – can you export data to Excell? The question is not simple, but very important. Customers are looking for ubiquitous tools that can help them to share any data. Excel is well understood. Almost every PDM/PLM tool supports some elements of data share. The complexity is probably another question. However, Excel is the kind. When it comes to 2D/3D, questions become more complicated – type of data, CAD system, purpose of share, precision, etc. – this is only a short list of questions.
I have no intent to provide a full list of data share or collaborative tools. Even so, I wanted to mention few last updates in this space. Few days ago, Autodesk made available their next product allowing instant and easy share of DWF files – Autodesk QuickShare (QS). Navigate your browser to the following links – It is alive in the Lab by Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard to read more details. You can try it on Windows, but as I understand, technologies (webgl) limiting to use 3D on Mac. Another project recently released by Dassault / SolidWorks is n!Fuze. This product is available on the cloud. However, if Autodesk has a strong focus on DWF format, n!Fuze is more focused on SolidWorks files (however, the tool is not supposed to limit usage of other files). To point of one of the tools that not belongs to top CAD/PLM vendors, I wanted to point on CadFaster. CadFaster provides product to collaborate, supports multiple CAD platforms and provides mobile applications as well. Navigate to the following link to see what CadFaster viewer can support.
Data Sharing and PLM Strategies
Here is my take on top three reasons why you need to invest in data – sharing tools and how it can be related to PLM strategy in your company.
1. Decision Making. This is probably the most important and easy thing. You need to have an access to the data in order to take decisions. Project review, Change request, Maintenance, Support Call, Design review, etc. – you better be able to have an access to your information.
2. Process Streamline. Your organization needs to work in a most efficient way. Which means – you need to focus on process and communication. The efficient communication and process organization is the must be here. If you have a tool to share data, you probably going to spend less time in communication.
3. Global development support. The time when all people in your organization were located in the same building is over. Now, people can be located everywhere globally. To have an easy access to the data from multiple places is another must requirement these days.
What is my conclusion? Even if it sounds simple, don’t underestimate the importance of data sharing. Like a lifeblood, data sharing can help you to work or die in a modern product development and manufacturing environment. What should be your choice? My take – the simpler solution is probably better. CAD/PDM/PLM world is full of complicated tools. Choose two factors – format support and simplicity as a first priority. The third one is probably system support. You cannot go wrong, with these three factors. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.