Onshape trajectory – what if PDM is Onshape key differentiator?

Onshape trajectory – what if PDM is Onshape key differentiator?

Everyone needs data, but nobody wants to be responsible for data management. I learned it during many years of working with engineers and manufacturing companies. Engineers prefer to keep files on Dropbox and not get involved into PDM (product data management) development. PDM was always perceived as a tool that stops engineering from actually doing design, collaborating and innovation.

Earlier today, my attention was caught by Onshape webinar with a very interesting theme – 5 Reasons why PDM is More Important than CAD. The webinar will be soon available online, so you can watch reply and draw your opinion. I captured few interesting slides and want to share few favorite ones.

First PDM is important. This slide is like 1000s others about PDM. I believe we all agree about it.

File-based CAD and PDM are questionable in terms of efficiency and reliability. I think Onshape is spot on and there is a big problem to manage Files, even PDM industry is working on these solutions for the last 20-30 years. If you remember my older blog  CAD Files – the route cause of PDM nightmares. This is how problem of CAD files presented by Onshape.

Onshape cloud database is different – no SQL, real time collaboration, etc. Cannot agree more – Onsahpe is using modern data management and cloud tech stack.

So, we are coming to conclusion of the webinar – Onshape modern cloud design platform can do a work that file-based PDMs cannot. I agree, Onshape platform has many great features that can remove traditional PDM pain points and provide a different solution.

Here is the thing, as much as I love the conclusion, my question is now – what about CAD? Does it mean you should use Onshape or, maybe, Onshape is going to provide support for other CAD systems. Even during the webinar was mentioned that Onsahpe can store other files, nothing was mentioned about other CAD systems. So, CAD is Onshape, but PDM is more important.

I liked the slide from the webinar about history of CAD systems. I put it here, but sorry about the resolution. You can see, according to this slide, that only 2 vendors in the world can manage CAD without files and use databases – Dassault V6 and Onshape. According to Onshape all other CAD systems are file based and use PDM to manage files. Remember that 3DEXPERIENCE is also a foundation for new Solidworks xDesign, which is fully relies on Dassault Systemes V6 technology.

What is my conclusion? I found an interesting swing from the focus on PDM vs CAD position during this webinar. Onshape data management features are great, but what does it mean in terms of Onshape development trajectory. What if Onshape technology can solve PDM problem and keep your favorite CAD? Sounds like utopia. Files are really bad for data management. Onshape is CAD system first to provide invisible (hidden) data management layer. So, I have many questions that I hope to get answered sooner than later. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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