Starting to use the CAD/CAM/CAE system

At this stage, the system should be running well, the first applications should have been selected, and work assigned. This may be the time for some in-depth training. The training course should be given in a compact and quiet location. System support will be easier because all the resources are grouped together. Although many benefits result from initially centralizing resources and users, this is not necessarily the long-term solution, since, in some cases, it can create a feeling of 'us and them' and can hinder the integration of CAD/CAM/CAE into the everyday working of the company.

The first few weeks of system use are often very difficult for the users who have little or no experience of CAD/CAM/CAE. All possible assistance should be given to them at this time. This may mean that the CAD/CAM/CAE support team may have to work 16 hours a day to keep up with them. Some of the users will be more than happy to work on the system and may also spend 16 hours a day learning how to use it.

During initial stages of CAD/CAM/CAE use, it is important that the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager stays in close contact with users and listens to their experience - both good and bad - with the system. This feedback is important - both to help resolve problems and to build up a base of good practice.

During the early stages of CAD/CAM/CAE use, many people will question what kind of work should be carried out with the system. Should easy problems or difficult problems be tackled? Should libraries of common parts be built up prior to starting complete designs? Should existing products be entered on the system? Should CAD/CAM/CAE be introduced on projects that are already under development, or should it be introduced on a completely new project?

Of course, all these questions should have been resolved a long time ago, but they will nonetheless be asked again. They should have been resolved as a function of overall company objectives, so, for example, the question of whether existing products need to be entered on the system will depend on what use the company will make of these in the future. It may be that it is necessary to enter some products. The most important ones should be entered first, but before they are entered, they should be examined with an eye toward perhaps modifying them to be more suitable for future use in the CAD/CAM/CAE environment. If some parts have a strong family resemblance, it may be possible to parameterize some of their characteristics.

Once the users have learned the basics of system use, the roles of the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager and the support team will begin to change. Instead of being mainly responsible for system selection and installation, their major role will become one of providing an efficient day-to-day service for both the short and long term.

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Page last modified on February 11, 2000
Copyright 1999, 2000 by John Stark