Data Management

New Expectations Drive Development of PDM Collaboration Features

5 Mar, 2015 By: Randall S. Newton

Product data management software is evolving with the incorporation of on-demand cloud, analytics, mobile, and social elements.

Autodesk 360 Product Line

Of all the leading CAD developers, Autodesk has been the most aggressive and vocal about bringing cloud technology to design. It now has a range of cloud-based products available, all of which share “360” in their name to signify the new all-access approach:

  • A360 Team — General-purpose file-sharing and viewing
  • AutoCAD 360 — View, edit, and share AutoCAD files on mobile devices
  • ReCap 360 — Take and share real-world measurements from laser scans; create 3D point clouds from photos
  • A360 Collaboration for Revit — Connect building project team members to building information modeling (BIM) data
  • BIM 360 Field — Manage, collaborate, and report from the field with mobile devices
  • BIM 360 Glue — BIM project review and coordination
  • PLM 360 — Manage product lifecycle data
  • Configurator 360 — Customize product data for quoting
  • Fusion 360 — A new cloud-centric CAD engine for industrial and mechanical design and collaboration
  • Mockup 360 — Share and collaborate on mechanical design mockups
  • Process Analysis 360 — Process modeling and validation for manufacturing.

“Cloud” is the buzzword that has caught everyone’s attention this time around, but these Autodesk programs (plus others that don’t bear the “360” designation) offer much more than cloud-facilitated synchronization and shared access to cloud storage. In varying degrees appropriate to each app, they offer all the on-demand CAMS elements.

Autodesk PLM 360 is a cloud-based tool for product lifecycle data management. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

Stratasys GrabCAD Workbench

More than 1.3 million designers and engineers have become members of the GrabCAD Community, a free web site where CAD models can be shared. In 2013 GrabCAD introduced Workbench, a cloud-based and CAD-centered PDM solution. GrabCAD — now a division of Stratasys — claims Workbench “accelerates product development by making it easy for engineers to manage files and engage partners in the design process.”

Workbench was a commercial product when first released, but after the Stratasys acquisition it was made free early in 2015. Current features include:

  • Selective file sharing, so that only relevant details are shared with outsiders
  • Version tracking and visual version comparison
  • File restoration to any point in time
  • Component reuse through search, parts libraries, and synchronization with CAD tools
  • Bill of materials (BOM) generation and export
  • Conversations linked to design files
  • User-controlled desktop sync
  • File locking
  • Export to neutral formats
  • Industry-standard security
  • Access on desktop and mobile devices.

GrabCAD Workbench includes the ability to explode models and assemblies. Image courtesy of Stratasys GrabCAD.


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About the Author: Randall S. Newton

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