The amount of design and engineering related data created today, in what could be considered Engineering 3.0, is staggering enough, but as companies move into the realm of Engineering 4.0, the amount of resulting data will explode. Thus the need to efficiently organize, store, and retrieve this data so it can be leveraged will be of utmost importance.
A brief history on Engineering design tools is in order here. Engineering 1.0 started a long time ago when people started making diagrams to communicate design ideas up until the digital age when computers arrived on the scene. This brought about applications running on main frame computers to run analysis programs and 2D drafting. Engineering 2.0 was mainly relegated to large corporations that could afford these systems. Then in the 90’s the information age hits with easy access to data via the internet and low cost powerful 3D CAD applications running on personal computers, this gave birth to Engineering 3.0. Engineering 4.0 is considered to the age of automation and connected devices (Internet of Things).
Small companies running traditional file-based design tools still create a ton of data and use shared network locations and local user hard drives to store it. One might think this method is basically free as no extra data management software is being used, but it is still data management and it is not free. Users need to remember and use manual processes to find data, create versions, restrict file access, and gain approvals for their work. This all takes extra effort and is error prone and inconsistent and thus has costs associated with it. The common errors include:
- Moving or renaming files improperly then references get lost and take a lot of time to reconstruct.
- Files get deleted when someone thinks it’s an old version and no longer needed but later realizes they need it because it was still being used by an older design.
- Whole file structures are copied to preserve a version which creates many duplicate files and takes up a lot of storage space.
There is even talk today of systems with “invisible data management,” which isn’t exactly true. Just like the scientific theory that you can’t observe something without changing it, you can’t manage data without some user overhead. Don’t misunderstand; it should be the goal of any data management system, or any application for that matter, to reduce the amount of mental overhead a user needs to devote to it, but getting to the point where it is completely non-existent is right around 0 degrees Kelvin or traveling at the speed of light.
We at DS SOLIDWORKS are committed to helping our users be more efficient in their roles as engineers and designers and are going to include high-powered data management capabilities with every license of SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD. The new product will keep the amount of mental overhead to a minimum because it will be integrated into Windows Explorer and use familiar everyday commands. This will help customers leverage their Engineering 3.0 systems and better prepare them for Engineering 4.0.