The adoption of cloud technology has provided many companies with better ways to communicate and collaborate in a more streamlined manner. This was especially important in 2020 when having a proper remote communication mechanism and data repository became a need rather than a want for many companies in order to adapt. With that said, integration with cloud products whether for file storage, communication, or even running native apps, isn’t for everyone. It’s important to understand why cloud integration may not be appropriate for your team, why some integrations fail and why the Dassault branded 3DEXPERIENCE platform could be a better solution.
Personally, I have been excited about the benefits of using the cloud for over a decade now. It allows me to have redundancy of my work files, documents, images and videos so that I can access assets from anywhere in the world, on any device, without downtime due to server updates or outages. Not only can I access from anywhere, but I can share files instantly in real-time because they are not living on my physical device. Which also means I don’t have to worry about disc failure or spilling coffee on my laptop. All of that is just how I benefit personally as a user and just scratches the surface of what the cloud can do for an entire business.
So why do cloud product integrations fail and how can the 3DEXPERIENCE platform help you? I’m going to share a few key expectations and use-cases that I think are often not fully understood when companies are looking at cloud solutions and then give examples of how the 3DEXPERIENCE platform performs in these same areas. To keep things simple, I will limit this article to focusing on using the cloud from the perspective of a 3D design/engineering team. Please realize the scope of business applications using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is much, much, much broader than these examples.
1. Make Sure the Solution is Built Around Your Core Business
Not all cloud solutions are created equal. Like with most software technology, they typically evolve from other programs, or out of the need to solve a business obstacle, and were later developed into a stand-alone product. This can cause problems when a cloud solution developed in one industry is used for a different industry that it was never created for.
For example, we all understand the complexity of sharing three dimensional designs. CAD data sets have relationships and files can come from all directions: suppliers, vendors, fellow team members. Once relationships are made between files, it becomes difficult to keep them connected when those files pass between multiple hands. How does someone in purchasing know they are looking at the right file? Does that person have the necessary software installed to view those files?
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform was built from the ground up for CAD and for SOLIDWORKS. As an add-in, users already have familiarity to the tool through their existing desktop software and can immediately push products to the cloud without additional training or time invested to yet another user interface.
2. Solve the Problem of Multi-Department File Sharing
The cloud gives us the ability to streamline how we communicate with one another, but that doesn’t just refer to emails and chats. Does everyone use the same software to accomplish all of their daily tasks? Likely, the answer to that is no. And, you’ll see very quickly, a multi-department company can immediately run into issues with compatibility and viewing different types of files.
Then there is the added level of permissions. For example, what about workflow sensitive documents? Undoubtedly, you wouldn’t typically give full access to files in an ‘in-work’ state to decision makers or customers. What happens if you need to attach a file that purchasing needs to see, or for someone running equipment on the shop floor? And what happens when a new user needs integrated to the team? These are common business complications that are often just transferred over to the cloud platform without using cloud capabilities to solve the problem.
The Collaborative Designer for SOLIDWORKS lets your users today share their design files with all of the team members using the cloud-power of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform with no additional implementation or installation, or hardware changes. It allows users to share and collaborate the entirety of your team’s data regardless of where it is in the design process and what tools are used to execute the task at hand. All permissions are applied at the user level, and data uploaded to the platform has corresponding viewer tools that do not require any download of additional software or special licenses. This means the CEO does not need an independent seat of SOLIDWORKS to view an interactive 3D-model from his computer or phone when he is logged into the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
3. Properly Manage the One Version of the Truth
I suspect you’ve run into this one in the past. When going into a project, how do you know you are looking at the correct file? That is to say the latest version you need to pick up and run with. Was it version “1” or “1a” or “1a better” or “1a betterer”? This is frustrating because you know that if the version you have is not the latest version, it will at best mean you have to re-do all you work and at worst lead to costly mistakes in tooling, prototyping and the like.
A kind of double-edged sword with using cloud solutions is that you can view, share and edit files in real-time. This is incredibly valuable, especially when teams need to collaborate, but can become a potential nightmare for files that need version control.
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform solves this by layering data management protocols into existing tools and applications, even if they are outside of the platform. For example, looking specifically at the 3DEXPERIENCE add-in to desktop SOLIDWORKS, you can manage your datasets and clearly see major versions that safeguard against costly overwrites and the “last-person-in syndrome” of who has write permission. With both maturity state, defining who can edit files, reverse a file, the ability to allow temporary access-locking, your company can ensure that only the right person can edit at the right time.
The cloud offers many benefits to businesses, but there really is not an out-of-the-box universal solution that works for everyone. When applying the cloud technology to CAD design and existing software like SOLIDWORKS, it can quickly become complex and result in more unwanted challenges than benefits if you’re not diligent. However, as we have discussed, there are tailored solutions for this industry. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is ready to go today and integrates seamlessly not just in SOLIDWORKS but your entire team.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to tackle integration of cloud technology on your own. TriMech has built its reputation on being able to seamlessly integrate different 3D technologies and are happy to help you better understand how to cloud technology can be successfully applied to your business.