Will cloud create a shortcut between CAD and ERP?

Will cloud create a shortcut between CAD and ERP?


Historically, engineering and manufacturing created a waterfall process. Some people called it “over the wall engineering“. To follow this process, engineers were finishing the design and literally throwing it to manufacturing organization. This is very inefficient process and I wish over the wall engineering practices will go away. Such practices also introduced the divide between EBOM (engineering) and MBOM (manufacturing). Two separate organizations are usually in a serious disagreement how to manage things.

EBOM vs MBOM divide was introduced by historical sequential engineering. It was good back 20 years ago, but it is completely inefficient in the new era of connected engineering and manufacturing processes. New business processes are demanding higher visibility in engineering, manufacturing and supply chain. The split between EBOM and BOM cannot stand against the demand to optimize engineering and manufacturing. The connection between EBOM and MBOM is highly demanded. It will come in many ways. One of them is better integration between existing systems. Integrated change management system with search capabilities can be a solution deployed on top of existing PDM/PLM and ERP repositories to manage all transactions and changes.

Cloud technologies has a potential to connect information. Instead of replication of existing PDM/PLM and ERP repositories to the cloud, the new system organization can come into place. Cloud services is one of the key technologies that can stop the divide between EBOM and MBOM.

My attention was caught by Exact blog article – Exact for Manufacturing Innovation: Link to Cloud CAD in Smart Shop Floor by Pieter Hamans. The article speaks about how cloud technologies can be used to facilitate information linking.

Recently we released functionality to view cloud CAD drawings by clicking a Drawing link in Exact for Manufacturing. We are now also supporting this function in Smart Shop Floor. This brings us one step closer to the creation of a paperless shop floor.

The paperless shop floor. Our vision on a paperless shop floor stretches beyond saving trees. The disadvantages of paper communication are numerous. Did the print of my updates shop order reach the floor? How can I be sure they are working on the latest version? What if shop papers are misplaced or get lost? Are we working on the latest version of the drawing?

Cloud CAD drawing in Smart Shop Floor. We recently released functionality to view cloud CAD drawings: Exact for Manufacturing Innovation: Link to Cloud-CAD. The Drawing link is now also shown on the digital shop paper in Smart Shop Floor.


The promise to kill drawing was done by 3D CAD vendors few decades ago, but the truth, drawings are still here. I’m also not sure if cloud CAD-ERP link can eliminate drawings printing.  Sometimes, shopfloor is just too dangerous for computers. Therefore companies would prefer to print drawings and burn them later. However, Exact blog reminded me one of my earlier articles – PLM: From sync to link. It is important to move from heavy data synchronization to a better way to link information. It made me think about how to link information in a meaningful way. CAD model and drawing is an important piece of engineering information. To have an option to access this information directly from the shopfloor has many advantages. So, to have these links are very valuable. At the same time, the context of information is also very important. Two views –  engineering and manufacturing need to be connected in a meaningful way by providing information about engineering items, configurations and other engineering, but not necessarily manufacturing information.

What is my conclusion? Cloud technologies can open a new way to link meaningful information together. The example of linking drawings to shopfloor is a good one. It is an interesting step to prevent data synchronizations between design and manufacturing using additional formats, PDF documents and spreadsheets. Will ERP to CAD cloud link will be good enough to provide a shortcut between design and manufacturing? What other information needs to be provided as part of this cloud linking? My hunch is that a broader engineering view is required to create a complete design to manufacturing story. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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.


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