Your CAD system was cutting edge when you purchased it years ago but now it feels like a dull razor blade. Which raises the question – should you replace it now or try to get more out of your existing software? In favor of switching is the opportunity to pick out the latest and greatest solid modeling software that provides the best fit with your product development process. On the negative side, there are costs such as the new software, upgraded hardware, training, conversion of legacy data, etc. How do you decide when it’s time to switch?
Tech-Clarity, an independent research firm that specializes in CAD and other related software technology, suggests that your decision should focus on the strategic role of CAD in your product development process. A recent Tech-Clarity survey shows that top performing companies have reduced product development time by 19%, reduced engineering costs by 15% and reduced the time to complete an engineering change order by 16% since implementing their current CAD tools, putting them at a significant competitive advantage. These companies have also increased the number of design iterations by 17%, accelerating their pace of innovation.
So it should come as no surprise that the survey found that the number of companies switching CAD systems for business reasons has increased from 31% in surveys done 7 years ago and longer to 61% in the latest surveys. Likewise, companies specifying problems with the former CAD tool as the number one reason for switching dropped from 48% to only 22% over the same period. The change in these survey responses drives home how strategic CAD tools have become for most companies.
So the primary focus in addressing the question of whether or not to switch CAD systems should revolve around the potential for having a positive impact on your product development process:
- - Will your engineering team be able to innovate at a faster pace with a new CAD solution?
- - Does the new CAD software provide built-in intelligence or other features that can streamline your product development process?
- - Will you be able to increase the level of collaboration within your internal team as well as with partners, suppliers and customers?
- - Does the new software provide the ability to simulate the performance of your design before you build a prototype?
- - Is there a large and active user community that will make it easy to find new talent and leverage third party tools?
An example of a company that carefully considered the impact of CAD on its product development process before making a switch was Arihant, a manufacturer of playground and water park equipment. “We needed to become more efficient to increase throughput,” says Assistant Manager–Design Mithun S. Mandal, “Other goals related to switching platforms included better graphical representation of product designs, shorter design cycles, and enhanced recruitment.”
Focusing on the product development process paid off big for the company. Since implementing the new CAD software Arihant has increased sales by 250% in two years.
But while they are focusing on business improvements, companies switching CAD systems should not be blind to the challenges. Again referencing the Tech-Clarity survey, here are the major obstacles that had to be overcome by companies switching CAD systems:
Learning curve – 52%
Reusing / accessing legacy data – 46%
Loss of productivity – 27%
Configuring workflow – 27%
Resistance to change – 25%
So don’t overlook the fact that change is difficult, especially when your engineering team is already stretched to the limit. The right technology partner can assist by training your people, delivering technical support, providing project management services and converting legacy data. These services can enable a seamless transition to a cutting edge 3D CAD system that delivers benefits such as a higher performing product, faster time to market and lower engineering expenses. You can download the Tech-Clarity white paper “Are you Changing CAD Tools” here to learn how top-performing companies address the question of whether it’s time to switch CAD systems.
About the Author
Jerry Fireman is a technology writer who specializes in writing about computer aided design (CAD), 3D printing, computer-aided engineering (CAE), the Internet of Things (IoT), electronic engineering, pharmaceutical research and manufacturing, test and measurement and a variety of other topics.