CAD data management

With the use of CAD systems such as B. AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge or Solidworks for the creation of technical drawings on the screen consequently arose the need to manage these drawings and their accompanying information electronically. However, CAD systems often only have rudimentary capabilities for storing and retrieving this CAD data. The drawing number, part name, change status or material identifier that the CAD designer requires are stored in a database and made available for research and change processes.

However, in order to describe a product, more is required than the mechanical drawing: mechatronic components, software (the proportion of which is constantly increasing), operating instructions and other accompanying documents are additional information carriers. Making this knowledge available company-wide is one of the central tasks of CAD data management, which can only be effectively implemented with consistent article and parts management .

Structured storage of information

Make product information available and usable company-wide and for all systems

In addition to CAD models, drawings and parts lists, the CAD data includes all CAD-related information such as specifications, calculations, production notes (NC programs), work plans, assembly information, etc. CAD data management is about structured storage, and not just in the File system but organized and in a structured form. This is the only way to handle technically sophisticated products efficiently and bring them to market promptly. CAD models and the associated data and documents contain all of a company’s product knowledge, design and engineering know-how. This must be made available and usable company-wide.

CAD data management as it should be:

It is always known where a part belongs and how it is used in the company. Designers are always up to date and can retrieve data in seconds. CAD data is not accidentally overwritten. There is clarity about who works with which data.

Increasing demands on CAD data management

Flat data hierarchies and no consistent item and parts management are often still part of everyday life in companies that use the working methodology of previous 2D CAD systems. However, many companies have become accustomed to this now outdated way of working, despite the fact that it is usually inefficient and time-consuming and, above all, the options are very limited.
The tasks in CAD data management have grown over the years due to the number of systems in which production-related information is created: M-CAD, E-CAD, plant or machine controls and the entire office world are constantly generating larger and heterogeneous amounts of data. Managing them is complex because the data must be able to be viewed across the entire product life cycle.

Companies therefore need consistent end-to-end digitalization . CAD data management must make information available and reusable so that other systems can use it immediately without human interaction. Today, companies of all sizes and industries have to deal with these demands of digitalization .

For this reason, the task of a modern CAD data management system is to create references and links between all the information required to describe a product. It connects knowledge and passes on information without manual effort. This reduces errors, saves effort and makes the handling of product data and the information it contains much easier.

Anyone who saves a drawing today, tags it and creates a parts list is no longer doing CAD data management in the narrow, historical sense (because this would basically mean just storing the drawing with the references to the component). It is already taking the next step in the evolution of PLM in companies : the step towards product data management (PDM system) , ie the linking of drawings, documents and parts lists in conjunction with a bidirectional connection to ERP systems.

It therefore makes sense to choose a CAD data management system that already enables referencing, linking and consistent article and parts management as standard – in short: introduce a PDM system instead of a CAD data management system. The PDM/PLM software PRO.FILE offers a modular structure. In order to switch to a digital platform, the user does not implement a system that is either too small for their own needs or too complex and expensive, but instead configures a CAD data management system from the platform that meets the current requirements. If these grow, further functionalities in the direction of the PDM and PLM system can be added without any problems. A modern CAD data management system should always be a helpful, adaptable tool – never a hurdle.


Mechatronics is becoming more important than ever

Many design departments no longer use just one CAD system, but designers work with products from several manufacturers. This is partly because customers demand it. A CAD data management system should therefore be multi-CAD capable, both in the mechanical area and with regard to the integration of E-CAD systems. The PRO.FILE solution, for example, provides integrations with over 30 CAD systems such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge or Solidworks from the areas of mechanics, electrical engineering and electronics. The multiple CAD connection enables common system-wide product data storage, without which mechatronics would no longer be conceivable today. The focus must be on holistic product data management. Managing mechanical CAD data alone is no longer enough today.

Six reasons to manage multi-CAD data with a PDM system

  1. Product information is securely stored and protected from access.
  2. Parts and assemblies are retrievable and reusable.
  3. Changes are understandable; We always work with the latest versions.
  4. CAD data is provided to other departments.
  5. BOMs and item master data are automatically provided for production planning, purchasing and manufacturing (ERP integration).
  6. Simplified handling of product variants

3D CAD-System

Work safely with references, versions and variants

CAD technology is advancing inexorably. 3D CAD systems have almost completely replaced older software that still works on a 2D basis. The reason for this is not just another dimension and its advantage of comprehensibility through spatial perception. 3D CAD means working with references between the heterogeneous CAD data. If something is changed in the model, this must be reflected in the drawing. If the material is replaced in the CAD system, this also happens automatically in the administration system. Huge new requirements that have arisen for CAD data management with the evolution of PLM in companies . It is important to link these together in the sense of consistent process and information chains. This information bridge is needed to get information, from the idea to the finished product, whenever and wherever it is needed.

3D CAD is standard in product development

Modeling with a 3D CAD system is standard in product development and product management. 3D models are characterized by highly complex data structures. The CAD’s own structures (parts and assemblies) as well as references to external documents must be maintained. This task can no longer be mastered via unstructured storage in the file system. It is also necessary to back up this data. Product development processes and 3D CAD systems are connected by PDM/PLM systems. This makes it possible to efficiently activate the essential potential of accelerated product provision at the highest level of quality.

Functional elements of PDM/PLM in CAD data management

Advantages of PDM/PLM in CAD data management (e.g. AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Creo, Solid Edge or Solidworks)