CAD data management

How can new products be developed even more quickly and efficiently?

Published 03/17/2021
CAD data management

A consistent product data model as a basis for the uniform development and management of products

In a survey conducted by the Aberdeen Group in 2016, 56% of respondents identified the challenge of "Introducing products faster and before the competition" as one of their primary concerns for improvements in the developmental process.

At the same time, the challenges in development have become even more diversified with the increasing number of variants and increasingly complex product portfolio. Because products are becoming more compact, for example, electronics and mechanical component must efficiently share increasingly confined installation spaces.

In the process, the document-based approach of traditional CAD data management fulfills basic requirements - such as release and change processes that are compliant with audits, avoidance of competing changes and data storage in a central location. However, the new challenges of development are only being inadequately addressed. This includes, for example, the interdisciplinary functional modeling of the system, efficient re-use of tested functional concepts and virtual safeguarding and optimization.

This is precisely where the concept of holistic, data-based specifications, simulation and management of products is proven: It serves as the basis for a consistent product data model. It represents all specifications, product designs, system models and structures of mechanical, electrical and electronic components and links them together. Multi-disciplinary development concepts, such as model-based systems engineering (MBSE) are also integrated consistently.

The sum of all of this information, particularly the interrelationships, makes it possible for all participants to maintain an overview and have the capability of reacting flexibly. Predefined work flows and templates add to consistence and speed in the collaboration. In this manner, consequences of a planned change to different product variants can also be evaluated very quickly.

Therefore, the concept factors in a key requirement: The completeness and consistency of information about the complete life cycle of a product. This verifiably improves the company-wide collaboration and accelerates and optimizes business processes. In addition, task-specific viewing of the information by specific user groups within the scope of their work is also supported.

The processes in the development should be user-friendly and yet process-safe. Activities which do not create value must, by contrast, be avoided or automated. Predefined work flows and templates add to consistence and speed in the collaboration.

Can I find a suitable component in my existing data or is it faster to create a new one?

Designers decide far to often to create new designs, because they do not have efficient, intelligent search functions at their disposal. A geometric similarity search and searching by means of specific characteristics open up enormous potential in this respect. If companies use purchased and standard parts, as well as company standards, intensively, classification entails further potential savings. The benefit of such powerful research tools is the ability to re-use parts, which entails a smaller scope of parts and ultimately lower costs for material purchasing.

New developments rarely start with a greenfield strategy. They are usually based on existing concepts and design drafts. Existing data, as well as data provided by customers and suppliers is available, in part, in different CAD formats. Re-use often reveals new pitfalls in the details. The innovative technology of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform now enables a greatly simplified working method with this multi-CAD data. Arbitrarily assembled structures of parts, i.e. consisting of CATIA, NX and SolidWorks assemblies can be assembled intuitively with high performance – purely in a web browser and without data conversion. Even highly diverse CAD structures can be built and managed consistently and easily in this manner.

Downstream processes, such as DMU analysis, simulation or production planning are then based directly on these CAD structures and media violations and double entries are thereby avoided. An associative, digital representation of the product and its production processes is created.

How do you get started concretely with the vitalization of the internal development process?

There is no generally applicable answer to this. The boundary conditions and challenges of companies are too diverse. At first, however, an inventory of the current status for the development process, IT tools and company goals is taken.

Important: Holistic consideration of the tools, data and processes that are used. Data silos and media violations are identified to optimize company-wide collaboration and data supply to downstream processes.

However, sector-specific requirements, such as those of an automotive or aviation supplier, must be taken into consideration. This is where our long-term experience with respect to required CAD methods and data exchange guidelines gained in numerous projects for OEM customers comes into play.

In order to further reduce introductory expenses, we have also developed best practices for efficient product data management. We combine these with customer-specific solutions based on customer requirements. After all, the best result for your project is what ultimately counts.

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