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SolidWorks Syncs Electrical, Mechanical Design Silos
8/27/2012

SolidWorks Electrical updates schematic and 3D models in real-time, ensuring designs are always in sync and BOMs are updated. (Source: SolidWorks)
SolidWorks Electrical updates schematic and 3D models in real-time, ensuring designs
are always in sync and BOMs are updated.
(Source: SolidWorks)

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jan takke
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Iron
Syncing e- and m- design silos
jan takke   8/27/2012 6:50:26 AM
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In fact this article triggered me to finally join this forum... The topic of integrating the e- and m-silo (but also s-oftware and o-ptics) has been part of my life for a long time. Talking about carradio-sets with built in cassette-recorders and limited space it was quite natural that placement of e-components would be synced with the drive-belt of the recorder competing for the same space. At the time (70's) the Computervision CAD system was our system of choice because it featured one integrated data-base for electrical and mechanical data. Conceived by genius and ruined by later managerial decisions to grow through aquisition with incompatible cie's, as a consequence of which the grand idea died and CV as well... pity and shame!
So hooray for SolidWorks to revive this ideal and make true collaboration and concurrent engineering possible accross classical silo-boundaries!

naperlou
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Blogger
Should have been done earlier
naperlou   8/27/2012 9:04:43 AM
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When you talk about syncing electrical and mechanical design it makes me think about cars, and their wiring harnesses.  Of course, I don't do too much on my current cars.  They are too complex and I don't have all the diagnostic tools.  In the past, though, I had cars I could work on (actually take apart with basic tools) and I did.  What I noted was that the wiring was always problematic.  It was like an add-on, although it was essential.  If only they had these tools back then... (and then was a long time ago).

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Is the wall still there?
Rob Spiegel   8/27/2012 4:13:58 PM
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Given the fact that electrical and mechanical systems have been running together in products for decades, I'm suprised the design wall between electrical and mechanical still exists at all. Are there other products that also break down this wall?

wbswenberg
User Rank
Gold
True engineering integration of products
wbswenberg   8/28/2012 11:38:31 AM
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Still the problem is getting the engineers to the prototype and prodution floor.  They need to envision and comfirm how the techs assemble the product.  I think new engineers should perhaps spend time assembling the product.  Another venue is problem reporting.  And perhaps the experence engineers should revist.  I just had a bit of an education on how the techs decided to wye out a cable.  Not how I would have done it.  But is was faster and easier work.  So now I design with additional flexibility as to how a cable is assemblied.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Aligning mechanical and electrical designing
William K.   8/28/2012 8:45:17 PM
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Our electrical and mechanical designs have worked togather for years. Those organizations that choose to allow empire building and isolation are suffering from a deffective culture. OF course, ours were always smaller organizations where the electrical and mechanical people were fairly close to each other, and casual discussions could be started at almost any time. In addition, we had similar goals, and the project leader would always start out a project with a meeting giving all of us a direction to start in. Also, we all had an input as to what the sales man would sell. So we had a headstart on what we would be doing.

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Re: Is the wall still there?
Beth Stackpole   9/4/2012 7:17:21 AM
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@Rob: You raise a good point. The wall is still there, but many of the CAD tools (not just SolidWorks) have been making good strides to break down the walls. Problem has been that the even though the two worlds have existed forever and siloed tools been used forever, as products become more complex, it becomes harder and harder to do the design work in mechanical and electrical independently and avoid running into big, costly problems. Also, PLM platforms have capabilities for managing both kinds of data which is helping blend the silos.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Is the wall still there?
Rob Spiegel   9/4/2012 10:30:08 AM
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I would imagine the tools themselves don't necessarily change the long-held behaviors. In the automation and control world, some of the vendors also provide change-mangement plans when the new technology requires behaviorial change. 

Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Re: Is the wall still there?
Beth Stackpole   9/6/2012 7:12:37 AM
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Absolutely correct, Rob. As with any of these design tools that promote multi-disciplinary collaboration, the tool is just the tool. It's the cultural and change management issues that are really the bigger hurdle.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Is the wall still there?
Rob Spiegel   9/6/2012 1:02:04 PM
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Yes, collaboration usually has to become company policy in order to make sure it occurs. People otherwise would continue to stay with their old habits. I worked for a company that required collaboration on research documents. Each person involved had to offer comments and sign off on each draft, which forced collaboration.

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Is the wall still there?
Beth Stackpole   9/7/2012 7:11:19 AM
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The real issue today is that engineering organizations really can't afford to stay stuck in the same types of over-the-wall collaboration processes and siloed tools. There are too many interdependencies in designs and so much integration required that trying to put systems together at the end of the development cycle is far too risky in terms of meeting rigorous time-to-market schedules, not to mention, incurring the cost of expensive tooling or late-stage design changes.

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