Three years ago I sat together with Hardi Meybaum of GrabCAD is one of Starbucks coffee shops near Brookline, Mass. We’ve been talking about GrabCAD social networks, communities, openness, engineers and CAD libraries. You can find some of my thoughts after this conversation here – Marketplaces and Engineering Software. Since that time, I’ve been following GrabCAD trajectories closely and had a chance to meet with Hardi many times. You can probably remember some of my previous posts – Manufacturing Crowdsourcing and Cloud PLM opportunity, GrabCAD, Collaboration and Dropbox, GrabCAD and Open Engineering Source: Dream or Reality?
However, GrabCAD trajectory recently started to show some changes. From open CAD library and “Facebook for engineers”, GrabCAD is moving towards maybe more traditional space – design and collaboration. GrabCAD introduced Workbench – the product that supposed to help engineers collaborate during the design phase. You see my first GrabCAD Workbench experiments here. All around GrabCAD Workbench started to look and smell document and product data management – PDM: reinvent the wheel or innovate?
Lately, Hardi and I had a very active discussion about different aspects of CAD file sharing, collaboration and integration – CAD File Sharing and Integration Challenges, Top 3 pros and cons to have a special CAD file sharing tools.
And here is finally come. Early today, GrabCAD published a press release announcing future GrabCAD PDM solution – GrabCAD Workbench brings CAD file management into 21st century. Navigate here () to read press release. So, the name of the game is CPD (Collaborative Product Development) and here is how it explained in GrabCAD press release:
Today GrabCAD announced that it has expanded the capabilities of the cloud based Workbench solution to a complete platform for Collaborative Product Development (CPD), enabling users to manage, share and view CAD models with zero IT investment. More than ten thousand users have already signed up to use Workbench to share CAD models with suppliers, customers and partners. With the expansion of file management capabilities, these users will be able to automatically sync their desktop files to cloud projects, track file dependencies, visualize version differences and resolve conflicts. With these additions, Workbench is now the ideal tool to help small to mid-size companies manage CAD files.
It all comes to the advantages of the cloud – to get service without installation, configuration, maintenance and other related hassle. Here is another passage I captured.
As a cloud based service, Workbench requires no dedicated server, no configuration, no maintenance, and no IT hardware or support. While legacy PDM/PLM solutions take weeks or months to install and configure, Workbench users are up and running in minutes.
Few screenshots below can give some additional impression about what GrabCAD Workbench CPD is supposed to provide. According to GrabCAD, service will become available first as a beta for everybody and later will become available for flat fee of 25$ or 45$ per month depends on the plan.
On of the very interesting features of GrabCAD CPD and Workbench is Viewer Diff functionality that is able to visualize and show difference between CAD file versions.
What is my conclusion? Technology and people. These are two components of future changes in almost every place. I’m always saying – technology is much easier than people. In engineering and manufacturing business it is probably specially true. Engineers are main consumers of CAD and PDM products and it is very hard to change their behaviors. PDM has probably one of the worst records in enterprise software, especially among small companies and individuals. Engineers recognized PDM as something that hurts them and doesn’t help. It would be interesting to see if new cloud services such as GrabCAD CPD will change the trend. The name (CPD) isn’t new, so hope to product itself will deliver the difference. I’m looking forward to join the service as a beta and test it. So, stay tuned for future posts.
Disclaimer: GrabCAD didn’t pay me to write this post and in no way influence my opinion about what GrabCAD Workbench CPD can do.