CAD Manager's Newsletter (#342)

29 Apr, 2015 By: Robert Green

Perfect Your Fundamental CAD Technology

Before you push to adopt the latest cutting-edge hardware and software developments, optimize the tech you already have.

In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I shared some market data that highlights a trend many CAD managers have experienced: much slower technology adoption than the PR firms and CAD companies would have us believe. The validation of the trend got me thinking about the following key question: If new whiz-bang technology such as CAD in the cloud, 3D printing, software rentals, and virtual reality simulations aren't taking over our offices anytime soon, then where should we focus our attention instead?

In this edition, we'll explore some of the many answers to that question, with an emphasis on practical possibilities that CAD managers can use to prioritize their task load. Here goes.

Objections, Objections

If we aren't concerned about futuristic new technology in our office, then it stands to reason that we should focus our efforts on the technology that is already implemented and strive to make it better, right? After all, without the drive to make things better, we'll simply become CAD caretakers and stop progressing in our careers.

Unfortunately, there are obstacles to applying that "let's make things better around here" logic in the workplace. They seem to always come down to one or more of the following objections:

  1. According to senior management, technology that has already been implemented should be running optimally already, and shouldn't require the investment of any more time. (Of course, the company's accounting system was implemented eight years ago and they're still messing with it, but that's a rant for another day.)
  2. Users express reluctance to do anything different or better, often saying things such as, "I have already learned how to use the software, so why should I change anything now?" (I call this mental inertia, and it is difficult to overcome!)
  3. Project managers express pessimism in the CAD manager's ability to improve things, making statements such as, "We've just got this running, and now you want to mess with it again?"

All these factors combine to make optimizing existing software harder than you might think. This is why so many CAD managers get stuck supporting the same problems day after day, never seeming to make any progress.

Coping Strategies

One strategy for implementing better procedures on existing software platforms that I found very useful is to simply focus on reducing errors. After all, making mistakes costs money, and senior management loves to save money! Therefore it stands to reason that by lowering our error rate with existing software technology, we can generate savings — and savings is bound to get management buy-in. This is the only way I know of to deal with Objection #1 above. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

New SSDs Deliver Brute Bandwidth

If you're responsible for specifying new CAD workstations or recommending configurations to your company's IT department, you should be aware of some big changes in solid-state drive (SSD) technology. One of the higher-profile announcements was made by Hewlett-Packard just two weeks ago at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, where the company introduced its Z Turbo Drive G2 model. The technology, produced by Samsung under the M.2 PCIe trade name, should start finding its way into all manner of workstations soon.

To give you some idea of the performance upgrade we're talking about with these new SSDs, we can compare to older SSD models, which simply plugged into a disk controller like a regular hard drive. Those models had typical read rates of approximately 550 Mbit/sec a big contrast with the new models, which deliver up to 2,100 Mbit/sec at 512 GB capacity. It doesn't take a math degree to see that is a 4X performance upgrade. The new drives achieve the speed by plugging into a PCIe slot on the workstation's motherboard and using four channels of I/O to move data to the processor — bypassing the disk controller entirely. Read more »

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

:: Resources

Survey: How Will 3D Printing Affect You?
Cadalyst wants to know: How does 3D printing fit into your CAD workflow, now or in the future? Help us better understand the realities of 3D printing in the CAD community, and we'll reward you with insight and information on the effects of 3D printing so you can plan for the future. Simply complete our 5-minute survey, and we'll send you the survey results and access to the whitepaper, "An Inside Look at 3D Printer Adoption in the CAD Market."

InterSpec Publishes FAQs on Specification Automation Technology
InterSpec, developer of e-SPECS specification automation technology, has published online lists of frequently asked questions for the company's software and specification writing services. InterSpec's e-SPECS software was developed to link CAD and building information modeling (BIM) solutions to master guide specifications for automation and quality control in construction specifications.

:: Events

CIMdata PLM Executive Short Course
May 4, 2015
Ann Arbor, Michigan
The PLM Executive Short Course is delivered in one day through a combination of lectures, industry case studies, and group discussions. Upon successful completion of the program, attendees earn an Executive Certificate of PLM Leadership. Read more »

The Internet of Things and What it Means for PLM
May 20, 2015
11 a.m. ET
This CIMdata webinar will discuss the reality of the Internet of Things and the new challenges and opportunities it is bringing to product development. Read more »

HxGN Live 2015 Conference
June 1–4, 2015
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Keynote presentations and interactive demonstrations will highlight key metrology trends, introduce new measurement technologies, and reveal what's next for automation and robotics. Read more »

GeoBuiz 2015
August 10–11, 2015
Bethesda, Maryland
GeoBuiz 2015 will cover technology, policy development, geospatial implementation, education, and research for geospatial professionals. 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

HP Unveils New Hardware Offerings That Prioritize Power
Whereas some hardware vendors have opted to focus on budget-friendly products, HP continues to take the high-end road with its forthcoming workstations, components, and peripherals. Read more »

Open Your AutoCAD Drawing to a Saved View
Join Autodesk Evangelist Lynn Allen as she shows you how to open a drawing file and go to a specific area of your drawing in one easy step (perfect for working on large files!). Watch the video »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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