The anatomy of MultiCAD-PDM Integrations

by Oleg on February 19, 2012 · 13 comments

After posting my last blog multi CAD and PDM- dead lock?, I’ve got quite many emails and calls. It again proved to me that the topic is painful and require clarification. I’ll be setting up few  follow up conversations following weeks. Today, I want to provide some background and clarify few basic things related to Multi-CAD and PDM.

The scope of Multi-CAD PDM

One size doesn’t fit all. Companies are using multiple CAD systems. Functional specialization, acquisitions, mergers and existing skill set. All these factors lead to the questions of how CAD systems exchange the information. It is about formats and interoperability. PDM multi-CAD is not about it. Since PDM is largely about the control and data share, multi-CAD PDM is about how to organize an environment in which engineers (and other people in your organization) will be able to use PDM will all CAD systems and files.

CAD-PDM: Immersive integration

Immersive integration is the trend in CAD/PDM which was formed for the last decade. It allows CAD users to interact with PDM within CAD environment. It simplified a lot design interaction and helps PDM to have a better control over the design process.

CAD-PDM plug-ins

Plug-in is a piece of software normally written using CAD API that allows PDM functionality inside of the CAD system. It includes functionality related to PDM control – open, check-in, check-out, release, etc. In addition to that it allows to support multiple CAD functional areas (I’m trying to avoid word ‘feature’ in order not to interrelate it with CAD parametric design features).

CAD complexity and PDM plug-ins

The growing complexity of CAD systems made PDM development quite complicated for the last 5-7 years. CAD systems made lots of functional enhancement, which made development of CAD-PDM in a nightmare. Add to that CAD releases, and you understand why CAD vendors got an ultimate advantage to provide a better CAD-PDM integration for their own CAD and PDM systems. It happens because of availability of internal knowledge, specific APIs and release process.

Customer needs and MultiCAD – PDM

MultiCAD environment is a reality of many companies. In such situation, customers are following two possible strategies 1- to follow dominant CAD + PDM strategy; 2- to form multi CAD/ PDM environment. The availability of a specific CAD-PDM integration is an ultimate deal/no-deal requirements in many situations.

Openness and API

In many situations, basic PDM and CAD integration can be achieved by using open API and system customization capabilities. These are important characteristics both PDM and CAD side. Availability of such instruments can decrease the pain around MultiCAD -PDM plug development.

CAD and PDM software releases and upgrades

Last, but now least- this is another pain point of Multi-CAD ODM plug-ins. Most of CAD and ODM releases are following one-year cycle. At the same time, customers are not always following all upgrades. To support multiple CAD releases in a single PDM is another place where precise synchronization between CAD and PDM development process is required.

What is my conclusion? The topic of MultiCAD PDM isn’t new. Let’s face the reality, because of the absolute importance,  companies easy can get provoked to use it as a competitive advantage. In addition to “openness” in general, the ultimate way to solve this problem is Open API. I believe Open APIs is the most important strategic factor for companies to be competitive in the future. Just my thoughts… I’m looking forward to your comments and future discussions. Stay tuned for more posts about that.

Best, Oleg

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