CAD Data Management

Content of CAD Data Management

Product lifecycle management today runs across department and company lines. It all began with simple CAD data management, and it used to be understood as nothing more than the ability to store and retrieve CAD data – which is among a company’s most critical assets.

Combining CAD data from CAD systems such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge, or Solidworks with PDM/PLM systems – what does it really mean?

2.1 Structured Storage

CAD data not only includes CAD models, drawings, and Bills of Materials, it also extends to CAD-related information such as specifications, calculations, production notes (NC programs), routings, assembly information and much more. CAD Data Management concerns itself with structured storage, not just using a file system, but in an organized and structured fashion. There simply is no other way to efficiently handle technically sophisticated products and ensure a short time to market. CAD models and any related data and documents encapsulate a company’s complete product knowledge, its design and engineering expertise and it needs to be made available across the enterprise.

CAD data management means:

  • Knowing at any given time where a part belongs and how it used.
  • Always keeping designers up to date and enabling them to access the data they within mere seconds.
  • Preventing CAD data from being accidentally overwritten.
  • Having complete control over who works with which data.

2.2 Multi-CAD

Today, many design departments rely on more than one CAD system and have their designers work with products from multiple vendors. A trend that is often driven by customer demand. This means that a PDM system must be able to integrate with multiple CAD systems both on the MCAD and the ECAD level. PRO.FILE stands out with its particularly broad range of Multi-CAD Data Management capabilities and provides integrations with more than 30 CAD systems (e.g.  AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge, or Solidworks) for mechanical, electrical and electronic design. In this way, the PDM/PLM software with its CAD integration enables companies to store product data consistently across all systems, a vital prerequisite for Mechatronics today.

Six reasons for using PDM to manage multi-CAD data

  1. Product data is stored securely and data access is protected.
  2. Parts and assemblies can be retrieved and reused.
  3. Changes can be tracked and users always work with the latest versions.
  4. CAD documents are available across department lines.
  5. Bills of Materials and item master data are automatically made available for production scheduling, purchasing, and production purposes (ERP integration).
  6. Handling of product variants is simplified

2.3 3D CAD System

3D CAD modeling is a staple of modern product development. 3D models are characterized by highly complex data structures. Companies have to be able to maintain their CAD-specific structures (parts and assemblies) along with any references to external documents. These are challenges that go beyond the capabilities of file system storage. And then there is the issue of having to back up this data. PDM systems / PLM solutions succeed in bringing together 3D CAD systems and product development process, giving companies an efficient way to tap the key opportunities of accelerated product delivery that meets the highest standards of quality.

The advantages of PDM/PLM in CAD Data Management (e.g. AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge, or Solidworks)

  • Control and monitor approval and change processes to ensure a seamless process flow
  • Control and monitor CAD-related information such as NC programs, routings, and neutral drawings belonging to a specific model
  • Ensure traceability through version and variant management
  • Assist parallelization and concurrent engineering with the latest versions

The functional elements of PDM/PLM in CAD Data Management

  • Provision of CAD data in a protected storage
  • Versioning and variant creation to monitor and ensure the consistency of all references between CAD models
  • Individual components can be changed or deleted without affecting other assemblies in any way
  • Support for the parametrization and structuring of parts families
  • Where-used lists and Bills of Materials in different formats
  • Provision of geometric parameters from the CAD system in the class lists of characteristics of the PDM system