Is MCAD Data Management Smart Enough for Smaller Businesses?

By Margaret Furleigh

Is it time to rethink MCAD Data Management? Is it smart enough for smaller businesses?

MCAD data management is at the center of your design team collaboration. You need a system to share and collaborate on design files, see designs created in other MCAD tools, and run simple workflows within engineering. You may have very effective MCAD data management, but the question is whether it’s enough to support your business today … and the growth you anticipate tomorrow.

With all the changes in products, industries, and the enforcement of requirements amdcompliance, managing your MCAD and product data in a file-based system can expose even the smallest companies to unforeseen consequences. A recent blog post by Rob Spiegel at Design News, “6 Reasons Your PLM & PDM Are Getting Smarter Than Ever,” explored what he calls a “generational shift” in software that manages design. He looks at trends among product data management (PDM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) software vendors to deliver more capabilities to support more complex product development environments and processes.

Is it time to re-think PDM?

Here are a few of the trends that point to the need for small to medium sized businesses to take a close look at their MCAD data management system and evaluate whether it’s enough.

The Design Team is Connected to Every Team

CAD data management smart enough.jpg

Connecting your company through CAD Data ManagementAs Spiegel says, “Collaboration has become a must as product development teams move to speed time-to-market. Rather than shifting the product from one team or discipline to another — say from MCAD drawings to material analysis to simulation — multiple disciplines can weigh in simultaneously.”

Any MCAD data management tool that locks down the product information within the MCAD system, itself, is only available to those people who have access to the MCAD system – the “power users.” The key is to unlock that MCAD data in MCAD-neutral formats, but even then there need to be automated systems to deliver the designs to the right people at the right time in multiple locations. And include them in workflows relevant to their work tasks – whether it’s a design review or product change. More people, at more sites — within and outside the business — need to be included in the PDM system than in the past, which is especially true for small to medium sized businesses that are often stretching what they have (MCAD data management) rather than investing in something new (PDM).

Interoperability and System-wide Coexistence

CAD data management smart enough_3.jpgInteroperability and System-wide Coexistence with CAD Data Management“One of the biggest changes is that systems that previously focused primarily on mechanics are beginning to accommodate electronics,” writes Spiegel, commenting on the need to include electronics and support regulatory compliance of these product. He comments later, “The interoperability of multiple design systems also keeps the design team from wandering into the wilderness. For example, designers can find out whether a particular material will meet weight and stress limits in the digital world and use the PLM plant to share the results across the various disciplines.”

While CAD data management is typically focused on MCAD, most products today include some electronic components, which require electronic computer-aided design (ECAD). The challenge is to bring together the MCAD and the ECAD data. That’s why today’s PDM systems need to accommodate the breadth of applications and processes that are used across the business. And rather than trying to include all those capabilities within one PDM software application, the PDM application itself needs to manage the different file types and processes.

That’s why the trend in PDM software development is to support system-wide coexistence with best-in-class, specialized applications used across the lifecycle. Whether it’s ECAD, computer-aided engineering (CAE), application lifecycle management (ALM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) or even Microsoft Office applications, people don’t have to change the software they know and love to do their work … however that work can now contribute to the whole PDM environment and be shared business-wide through a common bill of material (BOM), which is at the center of the product definition.

As you re-evaluate your MCAD data management system, PDM may seem like a lot to take on. We can help you get started. Take a look at Teamcenter Rapid Start, our preconfigured PDM solution that can get your business up and running with PDM in 30 days or less. From there, you have the flexibility to grow your PDM system to handle increasing product development and design complexity as your business needs grow over time.

Do you want more information? You’re in the right place.Watch our YouTube videos and learn more about NX data management, Solid Edge data management, SolidWorks data management, and Autodesk data management!

Leave a Reply

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at