CAD Manager's Newsletter (#310)

22 Oct, 2013 By: Cadalyst Staff

Don't Be Penny-Wise and Computer-Foolish

Using outdated computers for CAD is a false economy that can waste staggering amounts of employee time. Here's how to open management's eyes.

One trend I've noticed during periods of low economic growth is that companies use their computers longer than usual in the name of saving money on hardware. Using a CAD machine for four or five years may seem like a wise choice to many senior management teams, but I see the issue differently.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll make the argument that cutting corners on hardware updates often costs massive amounts of productivity — and labor dollars — when you consider the complete picture. Here goes.

Computers Are Cheap

I know some accountants will disagree with me, but computers really are cheap. In fact, considering everything they do, I would argue they are dirt cheap.

When an ergonomic chair costs $500, a plane ticket costs $400, and annual salaries with benefits start at $60,000, a computer that will crank out CAD work for three years is a steal at $3,000, adding only 50 cents per hour to the labor cost of an information worker's cost over a three-year lifespan ($3,000 divided by 3 years comes to $1,000 per year, which is then divided by 2,000 man-hours per year). Even high-end machines tipping the scale at $6,000 add only $1 per hour in labor costs per employee.

And when you consider that leasing and financing options can negate the big up-front cost of purchasing new computers — while delivering tax write-offs immediately — getting new machines doesn't have to be painful financially.

To put it another way, you can power up your employees with a new computer for 50 cents to $1 per hour — which may be less than your company is presently spending on coffee for that employee. Have you ever thought of it that way? Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

A Quick Computer ROI Calculator

If you've ever wanted to compute the cost of owning, powering, or servicing computers over a multiyear lifespan, you've no doubt thought about how much information you'd need to undertake such a task — and possibly felt daunted by it.

I've often done basic cost analyses on these types of issues by creating my own spreadsheets, but have always felt my numbers were suspect because I could never fully quantify the IT costs related to a machine's lifetime. Recently, I began poking around the ownership cost estimator on the Intel web site, and have found it to be a powerful and flexible tool that can help with this task. Read more »

Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

CIMdata Offers Whitepaper about High-Performance 3D Graphics
CIMdata, a product lifecycle management (PLM) consulting and research firm, has published a free whitepaper that explores the real-world applications of remote 3D visualization and virtualization technologies. "Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics: Secure collaboration with 3D data on all devices" reviews business issues associated with data and 3D applications that can now be addressed by remote access technology.

:: Events

Migrate to Modernize: Boeing Insitu Reset PLM and You Can Too
October 24, 2013
11 a.m. ET
Product lifecycle management (PLM) software solution provider Aras will host this webinar to explain how Boeing Insitu recovered a failing PLM implementation. Read more »

3D Scanning for CAD
October 29, 2013
11 a.m. PT
This NextEngine webinar will demonstrate how to create models for CAD programs such as SolidWorks, Creo, and Inventor. Read more »

VSR Rendering and Modeling for Ambitious Product Design
October 30, 2013
11 a.m. PT
This free webinar from Novedge will demonstrate how to set up a model in a realistic environment and assign materials using VSR Realtime Renderer 4.0. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Find the Perfect AutoCAD App on the Autodesk Exchange
The Autodesk Exchange is filled with plenty of apps that are certain to improve your AutoCAD experience. Join Lynn Allen as she takes you to the Autodesk Exchange and shows you how to find the perfect app — some are even free! Watch the video »

Signage Planning Gets a Boost from BIMLink
Wayfinding studio uses software from Ideate to move Revit data into Excel, and vice versa, cutting project time by half and reducing costs. Read more »

Study Explores How Local Governments Use GIS
Esri Australia and the Surveying and Spatial Science Institute back a research initiative to better understand users' attitudes and capabilities. Read more »

Cambashi's Observatories Focus on the Expanding Universe of Technical Applications
Tony Christian, director of independent market research firm Cambashi, expects to see steady growth in the global demand for CAD, PLM, GIS, and related software. Read more »

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