MANAGING CAD/CAM/CAE


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Consolidating the implementation


By the time that a mature, stable state is approached, the CAD/CAM/CAE team, the users, and those departments that have so far interfaced with CAD/CAM/CAE will all have become used to a certain way of working on the project. In practice, this means that they will have become used to a certain level of improvisation and 'getting by'. Events move so fast during the initial phases of installation and implementation that there is never enough time to absorb and record properly what is going on. Apart from the vendor's training documentation, users and CAD/CAM/CAE support staff alike will be working with their own individual notes and jottings instead of with uniform sets of thorough instructions and procedures.

A wide range of people, from users to the CAD/CAM/CAE support team and other engineering managers, will have become quite adept at working in this manner and may see it as quite natural. As the prospects arise for new initiatives for CAD/CAM/CAE, their feasibility will be evaluated in the light of this artificially low and streamlined overhead. As a result, such projects may seem very attractive.

However, time should first be set aside to restore the level of CAD/CAM/CAE training, documentation, and project control to that used on non-CAD/CAM/CAE projects, otherwise the entire CAD/CAM/CAE project will suffer. A conscious effort on the part of the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will be required in order to take this step. New developments will have to wait until the current situation is properly under control.

A CAD/CAM/CAE installation will tend to decay unless it is actively managed. The most obvious and persistent cause of this decay is the dilution of skills that occurs as new users are trained and more experienced users move away. A more important component, however, is that those in charge of any remaining drawing board resource will tend to pull users away from CAD/CAM/CAE. It always seems to be 'quicker' to start that rush job on the drawing board, and once the first revision has been produced, it appears that it would be a waste of effort to input the information with CAD/CAM/CAE. In this way, whole design projects may slip away from CAD/CAM/CAE to manual methods.

Users themselves will be tempted to take shortcuts at some time or other, and the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager will be surprised at the number of ruses that apparently responsible drafters and designers feel are acceptable in the cause of 'getting the work done'. Other users may either simply not be methodical or regard taking notes to assist them to develop their CAD/CAM/CAE skills as a diversion of effort from the apparently more important task of designing.

It can be seen that even though maturity appears to have been attained, the original objectives have not really been met, and the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager cannot be content merely to work on system enhancements while the users get on with the task of designing. The CAD/CAM/CAE Manager and the support team must always be involved with the way the system is being used, and they must pay attention to the wider influences upon it. This involvement must continue throughout the life of the system, with similar motivation being instilled in any successor to the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager.

A specific consolidation activity is necessary to freeze the current good practices and skills and make them part of the fabric of the implementation. Quality should be built into the actual running of the system, rather than being tacked on as an extra or being imposed by the watchfulness of a particular individual. Dealing with library parts or other standard information, removing the risk of duplicating graphic information on CAD/CAM/CAE and on hard copy, eliminating errors caused by in-house routines or system failure - all of these must be designed into methods of working.






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