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Design Renaissance in Manufacturing

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Don't let the power of Colaboration displace the Value and Usefullness of standalone systmes
dsgn2mfg   7/25/2014 11:57:25 AM
DN/Rob Spiegle makes a convincing argument for cloud computing and the "built in" power of the software to promote collaborative CAD engineering practices.  And Collaborative Engineering is not just about including manufacturing it is about including ALL stakeholders from customer to recycler from cradle to grave which is something I believe Internet/cloud based services do better than anything previously done. However, I see several problems and unaddressed unsupported arguments with this headlong rush toward cloud computing.  So, I remain convinced that no matter how good it looks in a controlled setting, it is not now and probably will it ever be ready for prime time, in all places of work at all times?  I believe it is likely that it will never meet all the needs and it will always need to be offset by maintaining some local systems with standalone capability.

First, there are many issues are related to distributed computing and portal based sessions.  I've watched virtualization and "software as a service" being rolled out in many companies and governmental agencies.  The time and expense of doing this are huge but can usually be justified when there are many users.  How will these massive infrastructures be dealt with by small business, sole proprietors and/or individual contributors working freelance?  Can it be done only with only adequate high speed access and all the infrastructure on the supplier side?  How can you continue to contribute or work when you are in places where that Internet access is questionable or even unavailable?  Places like the shop floor where machine EMI often make wi-fi impossible to use and Ethernet ports are nonexistent, or when you're traveling where there may be Internet access but that access is insufficient to the needs of large multi-tasking requirements and data processing on the scale required by an involved CAD session.  How will other yet common situations/places be handled?  For example how can we use software as a service where Internet access is via a secure network that doesn't permit that kind of session with outside vendors and where the data is considered truly secret (maybe where DOD equipment or a company working some new remarkable, truly unique – not to be shared - technology are being designed or manufactured). 

And what about printing, even on our local networks printing large files can be a slow laborious process, something that is even worse with files from the Internet unless they're already downloaded.  Will the CAD vendors require us to still have local devices sufficient to manage and process the print files?

I don't doubt in the right application for the right users, web based software as a service will be the right solution but will it suit all the users all the time? 

Second, most of what we do is create intellectual property for our customers, be they internal or external companies and clients; and this IP is owned by them.  Our ideas and contributions are usually considered proprietary by the owner and collaboration is a terrific and powerful tool that increases this creativity immensely BUT if that IP is in the cloud how is it kept secure.  I clearly see the cloud and web based sharing tools as huge in improving collaboration and at enabling us to include experts located almost anywhere.  

On the other hand, hacking, IP theft and corporate espionage of every nature is going on now; how can we be better protected from this when all of the work and communication is in a public cloud?  To the right people with the right tools our IP will be their streaming data, easy to pilfer at any time.  Almost as bad, companies like Google watch almost everything that is routed through them; when our IP is in the cloud running through servers owned and operated by companies that's sole purpose is creating engineering IP, how can we expect our security and IP privacy to be adequate?  And, how in the world will this lack of security and privacy improve our chances of being first to market with a better mouse trap?  Certainly the standalone activities of individual computing and the sporadic nature of local machines connection and users entering in to spontaneous collaboration sessions helps to make this kind of observation more difficult.

Yes, the push to get to market first drives to use and be enhanced by collaboration and the use of web based tools.  However, unless the user controls the security and the collaborative IP that results, it will just be a session, be it recorded or streaming, that is available to anyone (or agency) with a desire to see it! 

Finally, when considering CAD in the form of software as a cloud based service how do we control revision/version roll out.  The CAD programs now are so large that even as an expert user we typically only use a small portion of the packages' capability.  And because of this the CAD companies claim that cannot provide backward/forward file compatibility. So what happens to legacy data and systems already out there?  Worse, updates are huge and often sweeping, leaving users in the dust trying to keep up with them.  Commonly with these updates particularly with "suites", we get ancillary packages we do not use or need in our day to day design and engineering duties but end up paying for.  The CAD companies "give us" these unused tools to improve the value of the suite.  Nonsense, even when the "extras" are not loaded we pay for them one way or another.  Worse updates are something that, unless there is a pressing need to be an early adopter, a majority of users mitigate only semi-annually.  How in the world will we keep up with these updates and upgrades when they are being force fed pushed all year long? 

[I'm sure the CAD companies say, oh but not a problem, simply take more classes – what a lovely revenue producer for the CAD manufacturer and distribution system at roughly $1200/day or $4500/week per user AND what a time suck for us the user.  Maybe if the required upgrade/update training was included with the subscription service, available on line on demand, and included a Q&A capability via a chat session – with answers in a reasonable time frame) it would be a value add for us, the users.]

So between, network setup concerns, security issues for our IP, training, loss of legacy data use, loss of mobility and the freedom from having standalone systems, and loss of the old asset value of standalone systems and I see CAD SAS to be a losing proposition for many if not most users.  Collaboration YES, but seeing CAD software delivered as the exclusive or sweeping future for mid-range systems, I sincerely hope NO!


Cabe Atwell
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Re: Manufacturability & Process Design
Cabe Atwell   7/17/2014 3:41:04 PM
I got it... my corporate senses are tingling. Let's cut labor costs by 12 percent!

I bet someone thought that at some company.


Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Re: Manufacturability & Process Design
Rob Spiegel   7/1/2014 8:37:44 AM
Good point, Greg. It's amazing the changes we're seeing in both product design and manufacturing. With both changing, design for manufacturing is evolving in both areas.

Greg M. Jung
User Rank
Manufacturability & Process Design
Greg M. Jung   6/30/2014 11:49:41 AM
Some very good key points in this article.  One point that is especially important is doing the manufacturability early at the concept phase rather than 'throwing it over the wall' and letting the manufacturing engineers figure it out.  This simple adjustment can save tremendous amounts of time and money (both project and product cost) by having full engagement of the manufacturing engineers at the very beginning of the project.

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