When I joined the Engineering team in 2008 all of our CAD work was carried out using Autodesk Lt, and our data management was all based in a Windows Explorer environment, with no specific search functions or cataloguing.
Our company makes a wide range of bespoke equipment, with many shared components used in similar designs, but all unique to suit our customers. With no intelligence behind our CAD use, repetition was a daily occurrence.
Upon my promotion to Senior Mechanical Engineer in 2011 one of my first acts was to present a case to our management team to move over to 3D CAD and the relevant data management programs. Quadra had already helped one of our sister companies with their transition over, and by the middle of the following year, we were using Autodesk Inventor and Vault Pro.
Our early focus was on CAD, understanding how to transfer over our old drawings, and getting used to the new concept (for us) of modelling first, then creating drawings after.
Initially, we tried to use Vault in the same way as the Windows environment that we were familiar with, but we soon grew to realise that it was much more than that. As we learnt the capabilities of Vault, we added many different pieces of metadata to our designs, some general, but most specific to our company which allowed us to quickly search through hundreds of designs which shaved hours off our design times.
Sales quotes could now be based on previous designs, giving our sales team instant access to previous job numbers and BOMs of components. We have dedicated commissioning personnel who travel the globe, and by giving them access to our Vault via the web client, coupled with a user-friendly search function, they could access all the relevant drawings very easily.
The bespoke lifecycle we created within Vault ensures they only have access to the latest information. Fast forward 8 years and it is difficult to imagine our daily engineering life without Inventor and Vault.
We have 6 people who use these products on a daily basis, and another 10/15 people who access our Vault on a regular basis to gain information quickly and easily. The subsequent use of change orders was another large step forward in our productivity, removing a separate external database, and more recently the enforced working from home due to COVID has meant that we are relying on collaboration products such as Fusion more and more, which will probably stay with us, even when we find ourselves back in the office.
We now have instant access to 8 years’ worth of design data, which is crucial for getting out quick, accurate quotes, for helping new starters to understand our designs and shared components, and also to our continuing commitment to our customers, of creating bespoke designs to challenging specifications all across the globe.