Monday, January 26, 2009

Reducing Costs with Explicit History-Free Modeling

History-free modeling is not for every design and manufacturing company.  But, depending on the types of products you develop and the supporting processes, you may be one of many companies that can realize great cost savings by utilizing explicit history-free modeling for your CAD work.  With the economy as it is you must be looking for ways to reduce costs.  I recently posted some of the unique benefits of history-based modeling, which if properly taken advantage of, can contribute to better efficiency in the process.  Below are some of the unique benefits of explicit history-free modeling that, if it fits the process, can deliver improved efficiency and reduce waste (lean), and NOW is the time to consider this.

10 Ways to Improve Efficiency
  1. Lower your training costs with history-free modeling.  There is simply less to learn when there is no history tree to create and manage.  Intuitively interact with the geometry, directly.
  2. Get the right people engaged at the right time.  Eliminate CAD knowledge from the criteria for assignments and resource management.
  3. Hire the best designers and engineers, not just CAD jockeys.  Eliminate CAD knowledge from the criteria for hiring/staffing.
  4. Enhance the concept design process with flexible 3D modeling.  Concept design and history-based modeling are like “oil & water”; they don’t go together very well.
  5. Improve productivity for each individual by focusing on design, rather than model creation methods, technique and process.  Reduce costs by focusing all effort on product design rather than 3D modeling.
  6. Repurpose existing data easily with no need to understand model history.  Optimize parts once and reuse to the max.
  7. Greatly improve teamwork, team design and interaction with downstream and upstream partners to improve quality, innovation and reduce costs.  By eliminating the history tree, team members can immediately interact with the CAD data.  No need to study the model history.
  8. Get the maximum value from your rich CAD data by making it available, and understandable, to the extended team.
  9. Minimize IT infrastructure load.  Utilizing explicit history-free modeling technology can reduce average file size by 60% to 80%.  Can minimize RAM requirements, storage space requirements and network traffic.  This is made possible by eliminating data space requirements that are typical of the history tree.
  10. Improved general performance and load/store times for each CAD user by taking advantage of the lightweight footprint of explicit history-free modeling.
10 Ways to Reduce Waste
  1. Eliminate the waste of history tree management and structuring.  Focus on the task of design.  And don’t make the incorrect assumption that you cannot capture design intent without a history tree.
  2. Eliminate the need to rebuild models, something that is too common with history-based tools. (especially if you do concept design with them)
  3. Eliminate the need to create and manage standards and best practices for creating and managing history trees / history-based models.
  4. Add intelligence (features, parameters, …) to models and assemblies only when needed.  History-based systems may force the addition of this intelligence whether it will be used or not.  They will force relationships (parent/child), again whether this added information is actually useful or not.
  5. Upward compatibility can be a big issue with history-based modeling and can result in rework and duplication of effort.   There is no compatibility issue when working with geometry; i.e. explicit history-free modeling.
  6. Greatly reduce the effort of data exchange with suppliers and vendors.  History trees are proprietary. 
  7. Eliminate the need for other team members to study the history tree of other team member models just to make use of them.
  8. Designers will spend an estimated 25% of their “CAD time” managing and manipulating the history tree and related attributes and data.  Your designers can be 25% more productive by eliminating this activity.
  9. Greatly reduce the need to recreate CAD data just to get it into an editable format
  10. Reduce the time consumed in the change cycle, but eliminating the need to study the model creation history.  Focus on the process of change.
There, I made it – 10 for each, although there is a little overlap.  Some of you that have experience with history-free modeling can probably throw a few more in here.

Again, your processes/products may require some of what is suggested above as something to eliminate or reduce.  If that is the case, history-free modeling may not be for you.  But I challenge you to take a close look at your CAD requirements based on processes and product characteristics, rather than personal habits and preferences.



R. Paul Waddington. said...

I particularly like your “Eliminate CAD knowledge from……” statements. I have been astounded by the number of companies I have seen who have chosen staff based on their ability to use a particular type or version on CAD software; their engineering/documentation skills being a secondary, or lower, consideration.

This HR thinking has lead to some very poor staff selection; costly mistakes the ultimate realization that being able to drive CAD does not make a person a designer nor a good draughtsperson.

Being willing to train selected staff and or provide true incentives/opportunity for willing staffers to ‘self train’ in appropriate tools must be very high on the list(s) of all companies wanting to improve efficiency and reduce waste.

A great post Paul, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed something that's badly needed, Paul. See if this quote from the SolidCAM website helps:

"Mark Driscoll, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.’s OEM Business Development Manager says “Amid intensifying global competition, machine shops are searching for ways to automate processes, compress delivery times, and reduce costs. In order to achieve these goals, they are looking for additional technology enhancements to leverage their limited resources. Integrated CAM solutions like SolidCAM eliminate the inefficiencies of bouncing design models back and forth between separate CAD and CAM programs for part prototyping and revisions.”

Jon Banquer
San Diego, CA

Verena said...

Thank you Paul for this great post. If people want to get to know more about Explicit Modeling I invite everybody to find out on Resources are available for FREE and include Feature Articles, Self Tests and help in decision making (if explicit Modeling is the right approach for you) and last but not least, the FREE explicit CAD software CoCreate Modeling PE for everybody to download.

Anonymous said...

"If people want to get to know more about Explicit Modeling I invite everybody to find out on"

What CAM system runs inside CoCreate? I could find nothing at the link you listed above.

Jon Banquer
San Diego, CA

Paul Hamilton said...

R. Paul Waddington - Thanks for your comments. I agree 100%.

Paul Hamilton said...


I am not sure what I would add to the list of benefits based on your comments. CAM, FEA and many other functions can benefit greatly from history-free modeling, but they benefit for many of the reasons that are already stated in the post.

Whether or not these other functions are integrated with CAD is a completely different topic, although a good one. I know you personally feel strongly about integrated CAM, but being an NC programmer and machinist for 12 years myself, I can tell you I know many people that feel equally strong about optimized applications for each function and the dual data structure that comes with this. And I can give you all the rational for their opinion. It’s very much process and business dependant. We can certainly all agree that the CAM system must be supplied with accurate, robust geometry with no issue or delay, and that associative tool paths are a must. Most all professional CAD systems on the market today provide this, one way or another – including PTC CoCreate.

Integrated or not - It’s just a business and process question.


Anonymous said...

With ntegrated CAM in something like CoCreate or SpaceClaim you have a good chance stay in business and be competitive.

With non-integreated CAM almost all of which still uses badly dated wireframe technology with a very crude and basic solid modeler thrown on top, you go out of business because it takes far too long to create the kind of complex CAM program that is needed for many parts that can still be made in the U.S.A.

Simple concept really... too bad so few people get what the problem realy is and just how serious it is. That's the downside.

The upside is it's funny as hell to see products like Spaceclaim being marketed as being something else other than CAD or PTC trying to market both history based modeling and non-history based modeling at the same time.

Jon Banquer
San Diego, CA