My last blog started the topic of “Don’t Hesitate” which touched upon: Why is MBD so urgent? How to obtain top management support? What are the specific benefits? What are the concerns? This post will continue looking into more common objections.
Can 2D engineering drawings really be replaced?
This is a frequent doubt: 2D drawings have been used for over 200 years. They are effective and widely adopted. Can they really be replaced by MBD? The answer is obvious: not any time soon. 3D CAD has been in use for over 30 years, but 2D CAD still accounts for half of the global CAD market share today. Changes do take time and happen step by step, but we should never underestimate the value of new technologies because of that.
A proven penetration strategy of new technologies is to not compromise existing use cases, but to support them well and do more in a better, faster, and cheaper way. MBD is getting there by supporting more and more relevant 2D drawing techniques to ease the transition: dimensions, tolerances, annotations, views, tables, even sheet layout. The proposition is simple: “First off, you won’t lose anything switching to MBD.” which can alleviate lots of the concerns. On top of that, with 3D presentations, design intent can be conveyed in a much more intuitive and unambiguous fashion. Even better, with digital devices, additional dynamic clarity and functions can be achieved: rotate, machine-readable PMI, measure, cross-referencing, animation, and so on. Therefore, to put it more precisely, MBD doesn’t mean to replace 2D drawings. Instead it is to upgrade 2D drawings. Table 1 captured several similar technology upgrade examples. Cell phone supports all relevant landline functions, and adds mobility, intelligent applications, and much more. Digital camera covers all that film camera can do, and offers much more. These two upgrades succeeded undeniably. So will MBD.
Do we have to buy large amount of digital equipment for shop floor?
This question largely comes from the confusion on Drawingless and Paperless. A previous blog clarified these two, so let’s keep the answer short here: No. Digital equipment is nice to have, but not a must. MBD focuses on upgrading 2D drawings, but doesn’t exclude printouts. It can work well with existing paper-based processes as long as necessary, so doesn’t require heavy investment on shop floor digital devices. Of course, digital devices can further realize the full potential of MBD in the long run.
Would my supply chain be able to adopt MBD with us?
This is a reasonable concern because MBD can’t live in a vacuum. For external collaborations, the supply chain must be able to consume MBD deliverables. However, suppliers may be more open to this new approach than common belief. Here are several examples.
In 2014, a manufacturer in U.S. was so interested in SOLIDWORKS MBD that it organized not one, not two, but three presentations for three different groups: Production and Inspection; Suppliers; and Design. Before my presentation for suppliers, I wasn’t sure how they would perceive it, because they would have to start receiving MBD deliverables instead of 2D drawings from this client. But after my demo, especially on 3D PDF, they were not only open to receiving 3D PDF, but also were thinking about implementing MBD themselves.
Another story was six years ago in 2009, when a firm forced external machine shops to adopt Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) so that the communication can be centered on native SOLIDWORKS data. Reduced dimension 2D drawings were also provided to facilitate. Initially shops resisted, but to win contracts, they tried it reluctantly. However, after several runs of this new approach, these shops’ quoting, programming, and delivery time all sped up for both prototypes and production runs, which was highly needed because these shops were swamped with workload and were already doing two shifts a day. What was even more interesting is after this became part of their workflow, one shop asked: ”Why can’t you supply all the information in 3D? That way, we wouldn’t need 2D drawings anymore.” Remember these shops were not large enterprises. They were just several guys with one NC and CAM.
Besides these two examples, let’s look at some quantitative data. As early as 2009, the U.S. Department of Defense conducted a survey among hundreds of suppliers and found out that 68% were willing to operate their production facility as an integrated part of an MBE environment (Source: MBE Supplier Capabilities Assessment, Department of Defense, 2009, sample size: 445). In a similar 2012 survey, 89% of suppliers indicated MBD can better convey design intention than 2D drawings (Source: MBE Supplier Capabilities Assessment, Department of Defense, 2012. sample size: 46).
To recap: supply chain is an important piece of the MBD equation. Please involve suppliers and have an open discussion. You may be pleasantly surprised about their openness based on your solid support. This post concludes this topic: Don’t hesitate. Our next blog will move onto another key point: Establish a core implementation team under People category. To learn more about SOLIDWORKS MBD, please visit its product page. Also welcome to discuss with me at Twitter (@OboeWu) or LinkedIn (OboeWu).