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The Challenge of Multi-CAD Data Management

Matt Lane

One of the greatest challenges our customers face is selecting and implementing a data management solution for managing data from more than one CAD platform. This is becoming a bigger issue as more organizations utilize multiple CAD software packages.  In fact, a recent industry study revealed that the average company now uses two to three different CAD platforms.

This was not as prevalent twenty years ago when most companies were standardized on 2D AutoCAD or other basic CAD tools such as Microstation.  Now, more and more companies are using one or more 3D solutions (such as Inventor, SolidWorks or Revit) in addition to 2D AutoCAD.  Furthermore, many companies are moving from vanilla AutoCAD to more advanced AutoCAD-based solutions such as AutoCAD Architecture, Plant 3D/P&ID, Civil 3D, AutoCAD Electrical, etc.  Each of these tools generates more challenges and needs.  In the 3D classification, organizations may be using one or more additional tools, such as Catia, PTC, UG NX, etc.

Here are a few recommendations that we would like to pass on to those who have a need for multi-CAD data management.

  • Ensure that the data management tool you select works with your specific version of CAD software.  If your software maintenance has lapsed or you have not updated your CAD software, it may not work with the latest data management software.  Conversely, if you are using one of the latest releases of CAD, the data management software may not be updated to support it.  Never assume compatibility without checking your specific version level first.
  • Confirm that the data management software supports the specific features and methods you use within the CAD software.  Some of the more advanced CAD features may be incompatible with the data management software, which may only support CAD on a basic level.  Again, never assume.
  • Be sure to go beyond a basic demonstration and evaluation in order to ensure that your needs will be met.
  • Talk to and/or visit reference customers who are using the same CAD software with the data management tool that you are considering.
  • If possible, consider consolidating by using CAD software from a single vendor to handle all of your 2D and 3D CAD needs.  This can make the CAD data management challenge (along with system integration) much easier.
  • Again, never assume CAD/data management compatibility based on sales promises, brochures, web sites, basic level demonstrations, etc.

At Hagerman & Company, we are very experienced in multi-CAD data management and handle data management software from multiple partners including Autodesk, BlueCielo ECM Solutions, Synergis Software and Siemens.  All of these vendors offer multi-CAD support with at least one of these aforementioned packages handling all of the CAD tools mentioned in this article.  In all of our endeavors and engagements, we strive to provide our customers with honest and complete evaluations including the pros and cons of each option.