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Switching to a New CAD Tool? Read This First!

Switching to a New CAD Tool? Read This First!

As a manufacturer, when was the last time you heard a major OEM switchingthe enterprise CAD platform to a newer one? Companies rarely take the decision of changing their CAD tools entirely, and rather prefer upgrading the existing ones as a better alternative. There are multiple reasons why manufacturing organizations prefer sticking to the existing design tools.

CAD migration projects often run into difficulties with challenges of managing and converting legacy design data, getting a hold of new system and ensuring that the swap does not impact the production efficiency. It took four years for Daimler Mercedes to move from Dassault’s System’s CATIA to Siemens PLM’s NX. Prof. Alfred Katzenbach, responsible for the preparation and presentation of the migration project to the Daimler board mentioned in an exclusive interview that the project was no walk in the park. “We had to change our philosophy and create completely new ways of doing things”, said the German professor.

The need might be moving from AutoCAD to SOLIDWORKS or Inventor to Solid Edge or to any PLM/PDM system, but bringing a change means risking the existing processes, going against few valuable employees resisting the change; and retiring old but important engineering tools which performed perfectly all these years.

Sailing in the same boat?

I’m sure many of you would have found yourself trapped between the old and new CAD system for creating designs that you thought could be pushed to manufacturing faster.But it has simply made the process more complex and costly for you, and you might even have reached a stage where most of your design tasks are handled by the old CAD system. Does it mean that your idea of upgrading the design processes with new CAD tool was wrong? Maybe no; but asking the questions on what made you take the decision of switching to a new design tool, can certainly provide insightful answers.

  • Was it because of new features that the software vendor promised will bring more productivity in your processes?
  • Or did you find that your competitor fetched good profits by upgradingthe design tool?
  • Or, was the change really needed to maximize resource utilization and actually optimize the processes for better productivity and profitability?

Certain tools may offer features that are aligned to your industry, but aren’t relevant to your specific design processes. Making investments in such tools will simply add to the design costs without adding any value to your business. Besides with the new tool, there’s always achallengeof converting the legacy design data in the new format; to be reused as and when required. This migration part is always painful and takes away a major chunk of operational efficiency.The delays are extended further with learning curves that come along with the new tool.

The decision to shift to a new CAD tool should then actually depend on business reasons that matter the most to you, and not the ones that a software vendor propagates.In case of Daimler Mercedes, it was more about upgrading to a system that can provide better integration with their existing PLM system and also support their future vision. ”In the discussion it became clear to us that with Enovia V6, as it is today, it would not be possible to support the sophisticated technological processes we have in Daimler”, said the professor. ”Furthermore, if we should have chosen CATIA V6, Enovia V6 was mandatory. We would have been forced to run two PLM-PDM systems (Teamcenter and Enovia) in parallel, which would have cost double the money”.

A company that grows and reaches new milestones will inevitably have to embracenew technologies and retire old ones. But before bringinga technology change, it is always better to be clear about its need and the positive impact it will have on business operations, rather than disturbing the entire profitability equation that you might have established through years of efforts.


About Guest Author Kashyap Vyas is an Engineer at HiTechCADDServices.com and holds a Master’s degree in Thermal Engineering with several research papers to his credit. He covers CAD and CAE topics for the engineering industry. His contributions are primarily focused on encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to adopt virtual product development tools to build efficient products with reduced time-to-market.

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