CAD File Management ≠ PLM
PLM Blog - Aras Corporate Blog


Yesterday Deelip and others from the 3D Insiders' Summit 2010 tweeted this quote from an automotive CIO: "CAD geometry is 1/20 of what it takes to produce and maintain a part.”

My reaction?  EXACTLY!!  And we’ve been saying it for years. What got me fired up, and motivated me to write this post even though I recently covered the same topic in another post, is that despite the fact that CIOs know this stuff, they STILL let engineering drive their PLM selection.

Don’t let your design engineers kid you.  Just because they use product X for CAD file management, doesn’t mean you have to standardize on it for PLM.  PLM is a business system – choose the one that works best for your entire business, not your 10, 50, 100 engineers.

I’m not saying don’t let the CAD guys use what they want.  Let them use their system of choice for CAD file management.  That’s no problem – today’s enterprise PLM systems can move data in and out of it easily. But you’ve got bigger business issues than CAD file management, like LEAN, configuration management, workflow processes, quality, compliance, supply chain integration, FMEA, etc. 

If CAD only accounts for 1/20 of your product, don’t let it drive 100% of your decisions.

Posted Fri, Oct 1 2010 4:09 PM by Peter Schroer


Milt wrote re: CAD File Management ≠ PLM
on Fri, Oct 1 2010 6:59 PM

This reminds me of my uncle's broken watch.  It precisely shows the time and is actually accurate twice a day.  :-)

The relative importance of CAD data in the design (or manufacturing) process is different in various situations.  

Custom prosthesis or the NASA mars rover are all custom geometry and designed specifically for a small number of copies.  On the other hand, my PC that I just configured for production via a web page will not have ANY CAD files built for it.

i suspect that the automotive CIO was correct in his assessment of the relative amount of information that looks like CAD vs. the amount that looks like ERP/SCM in his company's processes.  He is probably even correct on a deeper level about how important the parts of the process that work with CAD are vs. those surrounding supply chain, factory planning, manufacturability, tooling etc. etc. etc.

The fact that his case happens to be the one that you think is right feels a lot like my uncle's watch confidently telling me that it is 11:35.  It is perfectly correct once in a while but it isn't a very useful analysis of the overall situation.

MarcL wrote re: CAD File Management ≠ PLM
on Tue, Jan 4 2011 6:21 PM

Milt – Thanks for the comment (don’t know how I missed this for so long). While I agree that different situations result in a different level of relative importance of CAD data, my experience has been that even in the most engineering intensive environments, like your examples of NASA mars rover or custom prosthesis, the CAD is still a small portion of the overall product-related information (not just design info, but overall product info).

Requirements, specs, software, firmware, materials & any related formulas, components, critical characteristics, test scripts, test harness, mfg process definition, MBOM, assembly instructions, equipment, tooling and hundreds of other processes and pieces of data that are product-related yet are not in CAD.

Seems to me like the point is really to highlight the disproportionate level of emphasis on CAD in an enterprise-wide PLM selection - which can result in a great CAD file manager that is not well suited for cross-functional processes and is hard to use for non-CAD designer personnel.

Isn’t the financial justification for a global PLM system typically based on achieving company-wide results?

Itaz Document wrote re: CAD File Management ≠ PLM
on Mon, May 2 2011 1:13 AM

Its setting priorities and adhering to them. Its rather apt to note that if CAD constitutes a small part of the system, not all our energies can be spent there.