The Changing Face of CAD Viewing


The CAD viewing market has been around for almost 20 years. The basic premise for the companies in the vanguard of the marketplace, was to give access to complex 3D CAD models without the need for an expensive CAD system. From a holistic perspective little has changed in the industry. That is, until now.

3D CAD systems now contain far more information than 20 years ago, in fact the whole manufacturing process is reliant on so much more data than at any time in the past. As an example, the internet of things did not exist 10 years ago, and now it is a source of key data. As a result, more specialized applications have emerged to help manufacturing companies innovate, speed up and automate their processes.

All manufacturers have a desire to give their consumers exactly what they want: innovative, aspirational products, available when and how they want them. The world’s leading manufacturers, however, don’t just create these products, they do so in a way that creates maximum commercial value for their business, changing the way companies operate.

Yet despite recent technological advancements, there are several factors inhibiting progress for many small to medium manufacturing companies. Top of the list is probably the lack of people and skills required to grow the business, and secondly some traditional manufacturing processes can block strategic ambition, inhibiting progress. This is increasingly having an impact on business performance.

During difficult times it is often the training of young engineers that is the first casualty of an economic downturn. Now that the economy has bounced back, many companies we talk to have a real skills shortage as experienced engineers age and start to retire.

National surveys in the US suggest there are between 300,000 and 600,000 open positions within the US manufacturing industry depending on what report you subscribe to. This difficulty in finding skilled workers, combined with the industry’s complete inability to attract younger people is a critical challenge facing small to medium manufacturing companies today, if not for the next decade. This, together with processes that have struggled to keep up with technology are hampering many SMB’s to realise their potential. Clearly there is the opportunity for ambitious and innovative manufacturing organisations to take on board new ideas in order to gain competitive advantage.

A radical change in thinking is required that gives people the tools to do more with less. It is no longer acceptable to have expensive skilled engineers performing mundane tasks. Workers can no longer interrupt other staff just to get information; a practice that typically occurs daily and is wasting multiple resources.

An IDC report suggests every worker spends 9% of their time searching for data and 8% collating data; practically 1 day per week in unproductive effort.  This, considered alongside the Gartner report that indicates employees get 50 – 75% of their relevant product info from other employees, shows there are significant performance improvements to be made by the deployment of a solution that is highly adoptable and will make employees more efficient.

The Actify Product Data Intelligence solutions allow you to collate disparate pieces of information into a single easy to understand dashboard. Dashboards can be customized to suit the nature of the information being displayed and the role of the person viewing the information, giving employees access to the data when they need it, without having to seek information from their colleagues or wasting time collating the information themselves.  With the lack of skilled workers available to manufacturers, this ability to make the employees they do have more efficient is invaluable. Furthermore, Actify brings to the table the unique ability to easily treat 3D CAD systems as another data source that can be mashed together with other information coming from different databases.

For manufacturing companies this ability to view 3D information about the product in conjunction with other pieces of information, is fundamental in giving knowledge workers a far better insight to the data than previously possible using  inefficient processes.

Many skilled engineers within manufacturing companies spend a disproportionate amount of time and money finding information but then collating it in order to make the business decisions. With the use of Actify products, it is possible to take away the mundane tasks of finding and collating information; allowing the Engineer free to spend more time on doing greater value add tasks, allowing manufacturers to maximize the value of their workers.


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