How to manage knowledge within CAD

In a series of posts, I will discuss my thoughts on how we can manage knowledge and leverage lessons learned to effectively and efficiently manage the product design process. In this post, I have outlined a few ideas and technology on promoting knowledge management and design re-use within the CAD domain.

CAD users, like engineers and designers, work in a fast paced environment with the pressures of reduced time to market and faster design cycles. In most cases, this results in little or no design re-use. Over the last 10 years, CAD vendors have come up with many features like
(1) shape indexing
(2) user defined features
(3) saved sketches/profiles

Shape indexing is an excellent feature by which the CAD system indexes shapes used within 3D models and alerts users when they are trying to recreate a similar shape. This can be tricky to implement and manage but has many advantages once you overcome the teething pains. Much like document/metadata indexing, shape indexing can be configured for optimum performance.

Multiple studies have indicated that 25-40% of designs are duplicates. While this might be warranted per business processes like interchangeability, we should be mindful of unintentional waste of resources. Shape indexing can be the key to improving efficiencies. In the past, I setup PTC’s ModelCHECK and was impressed with the results.

User defined features and saved sketches are similar in scope. These capture certain pieces of design that are often repeated. By creating these using best practices for design, users can embed these in a plug and play manner by just specifying the references. This saves $$$ in wasted repeated non value added tasks.

Metadata, like part/assembly description (or names), revision, manufacturer name and number are often not standardized. These tidbits of information when managed properly can support design re-use greatly. In most cases, since manufacturer part #/descriptions are not properly managed, engineers waste valuable time in modeling hardware like nuts/bolts/washers etc, when they could be focused on design and adding capability to their products. Again, tools like ModelCHECK can greatly contribute significantly by ensuring that standards are followed and adhered to.

"Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions - expressed or implied - of my employer (present and past) "
"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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