Mid-size Manufacturers Step into Collaboration

What can mid-size and even small manufacturers do now that they might not have been able to afford a few years ago?

SolidWorks Manufacturing Ecosystem

Just the manufacturing elements of SolidWorks are broader with each release; these sit on the PDM and connect to design engineering, plus simulation and visualization.

Collaborate.

By that I mean work effectively across disciplines internally, and with customers and suppliers as well. They can also pump out amazingly innovative products at a rate that would previously taken armies of engineers and still not have been as speedy.

Today was the launch of SolidWorks 2016. The number of new features was mind-boggling, but that’s not necessarily news. They do that on a regular basis.

The team talked about how SolidWorks covers four main areas: create, validate, collaborate and build. I’d argue that some of the enhancements in each area enables collaboration.

Of course, having mechanical, electrical, assembly and mechatronics in SolidWorks has been a pathway to engineering collaboration. SolidWorks Simulation has long had structural, thermal, fatigue, electronics cooling and motion analysis. In an earlier post I talked about how model-based design (MBD) links production in with design more effectively. Today they showed a CAMworks toolpath, fully dimensioned within the single view.

What else? A truly intuitive new user interface (UI) may not seem like a collaboration benefit, but it saves quite a bit of time and training, which opens up CAD tools to more potential users. SolidWorks Visualize (formerly Bunkspeed) delivers tools for the marketing creatives within the suite. new capabilities for plastics injection molding will connect design to production too. SolidWorks is now bundling the PDM platform into its standard edition and EPDM into its premium suite.

Now there are other aspects of collaboration that other types of software providers enable – like the providers of ERP, EDI and industry trading exchange platforms, and supply chain and production execution or MES. Nothing is nearly as sexy as what the design innovation companies offer – but it is all critical.

As these collaboration capabilities become increasingly available and affordable without hardware investments or even software capital expenses, smaller companies must review what they need. Flexibility to collaborate has always been one of the key advantages of being a small or mid-size business… and technology is falling away as a barrier to being leading-edge about it.

With 2.865 million registered users, SolidWorks is nearly everywhere. That broad community of users – along with the many partners and local resellers – makes SolidWorks a de facto collaboration tool to some degree. The new capabilities continue to cement that role.

Who – internally and externally – does your company need to collaborate with for competitive advantage? That is a question to ask. Or be ready for someone to ask you.

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