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CAD Tech News (#139)

3 Dec, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff


Viewpoint: Rescuing the Exhausted Engineer with Digital Manufacturing Simulation

Product designers and engineers were overburdened even before the pandemic put extra pressure on their teams, workflows, and customers. Analyses enabled by virtually replicating both a product and its manufacturing processes can turn things around.

By Stephanie Feraday

Manufacturers put a lot of weight on the shoulders of their product designers and engineers these days. It was tough for them before the pandemic, but now it's even worse: Supply chain disruptions, layoffs, furloughs, and government-imposed lockdowns have large manufacturers struggling to make up lost revenues and profits while trying to compete with smaller, more nimble competitors that have fully embraced digital transformation. There is constant pressure for product engineering teams working remotely to create more innovative designs, reduce manufacturing costs, and improve the overall efficiency of the design and delivery process — all at the same time.

These challenges impact more than designers. Consider procurement and cost engineering teams tasked with sourcing and costing the product parts that engineers have designed. It's their job to deliver value for the money. Unfortunately, in most organizations, they don't get invited to the party until it's too late — typically at the prototype stage, when about 70% of the cost is already designed in. Once the design goes out for prototype manufacture, changes start to get very costly, both financially and schedule-wise.

Ideally, procurement and cost engineering personnel are working closely with the design team from the start, but that's easier in concept than in practice. Many companies' processes and cultures have been built up over decades and are hard to change. Engineering teams now working remotely are more isolated than in the past.

There may also be friction about roles and responsibilities. It's often the case that a product looks great in the CAD software, but not all the features can be manufactured efficiently or within target cost. Designers may not appreciate it when a professional with limited product knowledge and experience questions some of the features and tolerances in their design.

Over the years, procurement and cost engineering professionals learn how to work with engineers, designers, and suppliers, but you can't really hire for that. Many of those that have developed those relationships and tribal knowledge are nearing retirement or have already left the building.

Domino Effects

Further exacerbating the situation for manufacturers are their customers' shrinking time-to-market windows as they react to shifts in demand. In response, manufacturers add more designers, but not more cost engineers, to keep pace. That means more pressure for procurement to make sure sourced products come in on time, so engineers aren't idle. The time squeeze often leads to product design compromises which need to be addressed in the late stages or post-production, raising costs. This risk gets built into proposals as a buffer.

The rest is predictable: Manufacturers either lose contracts because they bid too high to cover potential extra costs, or sacrifice margin because there is not enough buffer built into their bid. And, in the worst-case scenario, customers end up disappointed. Read more »

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Stephanie Feraday is the CEO of aPriori.

 

Autodesk Pushes AEC Modernization, Part 1: New Tools for Construction Cloud, Digital Twins

At Autodesk University 2020, the company spotlights products and capabilities intended to digitize construction management, enhance operational insights, and help disparate groups collaborate.

By Cadalyst Staff

A few months ago, Autodesk was rebuked by a group of architectural firms unhappy with the company's investment — or lack thereof — in improving Revit. In response, Amy Bunszel, senior vice president of Autodesk's AEC Design Solutions group, explained that the company had made a tradeoff in recent years: Revit development resources were shifted to focus on the needs of engineering and construction customers instead, with the goal of enabling "all major stakeholders to participate in the BIM [building information modeling] process."

At the 2020 Autodesk University (AU) conference, held online November 17–20, the company highlighted results of those redirected efforts. "The work we're doing to truly connect all parts of AEC is so exciting, because I believe it will enable this industry to collaborate in near–real time, with agility and productivity," said President and CEO Andrew Anagnost.

To that end, Autodesk is expanding its AEC Collection and Construction Cloud offerings; unveiling Autodesk Tandem, which expands building information modeling (BIM) functionality with digital twins; and also investing in design authoring capabilities, Anagnost said.

The Call to Connect AEC

"The reality is that connected data has already revolutionized every industry around us, and the AEC industry is no exception," stated Leona Frank, Autodesk senior industry marketing manager, during AU's AEC keynote.

"When we talk about data-connected design," Frank said, "it's first of all an acknowledgement that design doesn't happen in a vacuum: You have numerous stakeholders working together, each adding their part — and their data — to make sure the design meets expectations. And the better connected these project team members and stakeholders are, the more efficient and less error-prone the process. This puts the common data environment, or CDE, with cloud data storage and document management squarely in the middle of the design process, empowering innovators like you to work with one single source of truth." Read more »

 

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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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