Internet sites and business issues relevant to Canadian processors and moldmakers (October 01, 2000)
Collaboration tools reshaping designAn article on page 29 of this issue covers two top-of-the line software systems for design collaboration, but there are many other tools which facilitate collaborat...
Collaboration tools reshaping design
An article on page 29 of this issue covers two top-of-the line software systems for design collaboration, but there are many other tools which facilitate collaboration and communication between geographically-dispersed design team members. Here are a few that I came across in my research.
GE Plastics has upgraded its online Technical Answer Centre (1) to permit real-time on-screen collaboration, including application sharing that permits all parties to view files (such as CAD files) even if they don’t have the software used to create the files.
CAD suppliers Cimatron (2) and SolidWorks (3) have also introduced Web-based viewing and mark-up software to assist with collaboration.
SolidWorks’ add-in 3D Meeting module will allow live, online meetings to review SolidWorks models. To initiate a 3D Meeting, the user emails invitations from within SolidWorks. Participants can then watch from any PC in the world using a standard net browser as the meeting host creates, rotates, zooms and highlights design changes within SolidWorks parts, assemblies or drawings.
Similarly, Cimatron’s QuickPreview software can be used as a collaborative tool, allowing designers, suppliers and customers to conduct visual model review sessions held in conference-call format via the Internet. Users can highlight and circle sections of a design, and animate core/cavity and slide actions. The software provides teams with a way to visually communicate and collaborate on the tooling process without having to download the entire model.
It’s getting bigger all the time
The harmonization of information systems will be a critical issue as the tentacles of Internet technology and e-commerce move ever further into your business. To start the harmonization rolling on the raw materials side, BASF, Dow and DuPont have recently proposed open, non-proprietary standards for company-to-company, company-to-marketplace and marketplace-to-marketplace data exchange in the chemicals industry. These three suppliers are part of the Omnexus (4) injection molding marketplace initiative.
This broad set of Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards was presented to the Chemical Industry Data Exchange (CIDX) for review and development into a more formalized plan. The standards can be viewed at CIDX’s web site (5).
Another e-commerce collaboration that will affect the plastics industry is also moving ahead. The Globe and Mail reported last month that the on-line B2B marketplace proposed by Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Corp., called Covisint (6), is likely to receive approval from anti-trust investigators.
Magna International Inc. (7) has announced that it will form a working relationship with Covisint. Don Walker, president and CEO of Magna, stated: “Most important, the exchange will ultimately enable customers and suppliers to work together on product development through simultaneous design and real-time engineering changes.”
Simultaneous design, collaborative design, whatever you call it, all avenues seem to be leading the same direction.