The 1997 edition of the Autofact trade show commences November 3 in Detroit's Cobo Hall. One of the major exhibitions for CAD, analysis, and other software vendors, it's certain to draw attendees from across the country and from a variety of manufacturing industries. Since even many of the software vendors who don't exhibit at the show will have hospitality suites at the nearby convention hotels, the event, like the National Design Engineering Show, offers engineers a great opportunity to find out what's new and what can help them be more productive.
At virtually every booth, exhibitors will be demonstrating the latest releases of their software, working on stock problems where they can highlight specific features of their products. Look at those demos closely, but don't stop there.
Canned demonstrations are good as far as they go. And they certainly are the most practical and efficient exercises vendors can go through, given the number of people they want to appeal to and the amount of time they have.
But they won't necessarily address your problems. Benchmark tests at your site will.
All software vendors are anxious to participate in benchmark tests, and that's the most common way of selling CAD. If you're serious about buying a CAD package or upgrading the one you have, you should invite as many vendors as possible to demonstrate their software on one of your problems. Better yet, you should run the software during the tests, not the vendor, so you can get a good feel for how easy it is to use. Software reps are so familiar with their products that they often whip right through a demo, almost forgetting you're there as they race from one command to the next. They're having fun. You, on the other hand, are trying to grasp the important features of something new.
The Army encourages us to be all that we can be. During Autofact and after, you should see all you can see in software so you'll know what's best for you. Run the tests yourself.
It's UG for GM†
†In this column on October 6, we referred to Ford's adoption of SDRC as its standard CAD software and Chrysler's adoption of CATIA. GM has also adopted a standard CAD package. It's EDS Unigraphics. "The adoption of the new system will affect the entire vehicle development process," said GM executive Jay Wetzel, who won this magazine's 1993 Engineering Quality Award.