Preaching To The Choir…Using 2 Separate CAD Systems

busy analytics

“You’re preaching to the choir – a busy choir…”

Have you ever been in a situation where there was a big issue at hand? An issue that overtime, was accepted as…normal? How does that even happen, right?

This situation might sound all too familiar. You might even say that I’m “preaching to the choir!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that this issue becomes increasingly difficult to resolve due to the status quo. Sometimes the issue is general; other times it is very specific, but in the end, you are just too damn busy. Before you can even mentally tackle what changing the state of your affairs might look like–you settle. It becomes easier to adopt this issue and it’s numerous work arounds into a normal part of your work flow instead of simply resolving it.

That’ll keep you busy, and sure, being busy is great – but it’s only great for one thing and that’s making you lose focus on the elephant in the room. And this elephant isn’t a normal elephant. It is a giant, pink, inflatable elephant that has explosives inside of it that are set on a timer and will blow up one day, setting you into a backwards spiral which could have easily been mitigated.

The Real World Example

This example is going be specific to our industry, but can easily be replaced with almost anything. The main idea here is the concept – not the specific example.

What I’ve seen is that companies use 2 different CAD softwares simultaneously. This usually happens early on for one of three reasons.

  1. The company hired skilled engineers which are comfortable with different CAD tools based on their past experience.
  2. The company underwent a merger in which both previous companies used two different software.
  3. Management didn’t have proper consultation and went with the software that was the better deal at the time since they do the “same thing.”

Let’s say, for the sake of this example, a company is using SolidWorks and (Alibre, Inventor, PTC, etc..) simultaneously.

Why it went ignored:

The company only has a few engineers. They’ve undergone massive growth and are too busy to even consider that this can burn them in the long-run. Why?

Because (and you now know this): THE STATUS QUO !

  1. Good enough is good enough. It works so far so why fix something that’s not broken?
  2. It will be too expensive to buy an additional seat of SolidWorks and scrap the investment you already made into the other software.
  3. It will take too much time to figure out how to migrate the data, and your company is already swamped with work.
  4. The softwares both create 3D models as an end-result.

Why is this a ticking time-bomb?

This can be divided into two issues, one of them more destructive than the first, but both equally as important to your company’s health.

Cost

The first issue with using two separate CAD systems is cost. It stems from a lack of integration and collaboration. It is inarguable that SolidWorks is the superior software in terms of fit-form-function. This means that usually files from the secondary CAD system are ported over to SolidWorks rather than the other way around. While both of the CAD systems make 3D files, they do not translate well due to file formats. Thus, dumb-files are often generated, which means that there is a loss of important engineering properties such as mating data that will require rework.

Why is rework terrible? For the simple reason that it is a time-sink that is unnecessary.

Let’s do some math and get into the cost aspect:

Assumptions:

  • 1 SolidWorks license costs about $5,000.00
  • A super low-ball of a design engineer’s salary is about $20 an hour, which is $41,600.00 per year.
  • Rework of a model usually takes an average of 1 hour (usually more) of time.
  • Rework of designs usually have to be done an average of X times per week, let’s say 10.
  • An engineer works 52 weeks in a year (assuming time-off is used).

The Math:

  • (52 working weeks in a year) * (10 reworks per week) = 520 reworks per year
  • (520 reworks per year) * (1 hour per rework) = 520 hours of rework per year
  • (520 hours of rework per year) * ($20 per hour) = $10,400.00 per year wasted, not including business generated from being able to work on more designs/projects.
  • That is about 3 business weeks of the year completely wasted, which is more than a SolidWorks license.
  • Seems significant but there’s a bigger issue still…

Scalability

Over-time, the amount of design files are going to increase in the secondary CAD system – there’s no avoiding it. If you have 700 files right now, in a few years it will be several thousand. The longer it gets ignored, the harder it is going to be to migrate all data.

On top of that, SolidWorks is the standard in design-engineering. 85% of universities with engineering programs teach using SolidWorks. Therefore, the new workforce clearly has a preference since SolidWorks was the foundation for which they learned. Companies are subsequently having trouble finding engineers that use Inventor, ProE, Alibre, etc.

Then of course, there’s the unthinkable. What if the person using the secondary software wins the lottery, or maybe they just retire? What will happen to all of that data? Are you willing to invest all of the extra time when the elephant finally blows up? At that point, will you have to hire another person whose sole responsibility is to convert legacy data into SolidWorks? How much will that cost? Do you have a strategy for this, or will you try to spearhead it when it finally happens? What’s the plan?

"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now."

Please don’t be like your competitors who are stuck in the status quo. If your issues are CAD related, know that you have a trusted partner. Many companies will try to do the migration for you at an insane cost without teaching you how to fend for yourself. That’s not our style. We believe More is Possible.

All in all, whether your issue has to do with CAD or not. Plant your tree now.

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