Realtime analytics capabilities help easily track the activities of all users from multiple devices.
The fully cloud-based CAD offerings from Onshape recently received yet another expansion in the form of Onshape Enterprise. The latest offering enters the ring as a “premium edition” of Onshape that allows large companies or those with widely dispersed staff to securely use and access the CAD tools they need without placing the organization’s entire workflow in jeopardy.
Since Onshape is fully accessible through the cloud, many of the traditional restrictions impeding CAD collaboration, such as version incompatibility, lengthy download times, and storage restrictions, are rendered moot. With older CAD and PDM (product data management) software, it can be difficult to maintain up-to-date licenses on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of staff members’ systems spread across the globe, and even more of a nightmare to control who has access to what parts of the workflow.
According to Dave Corcoran, co-founder and VP of product at Onshape, the issues can be split into four main categories: “control, agility, access, and visibility.” ‘Control’ refers to the difficulties that come with attempting to manage hundreds or thousands of CAD files and their copies strewn across various systems, with many private, unmanaged, or incomplete files ending up in the hands of people who shouldn’t even have access to them. This not only slows down the overall production process, but can also endanger a company’s IP. To combat this, Onshape Enterprise automatically tracks the sign-in locations as well as the activities of all validated users, all the time. This allows management to see by whom, how, and from where their CAD files are being used.
‘Agility’ in this context refers to the amount of design work being done versus downtime, and according to Mr. Corcoran, “the average engineer spends less than half his or her time on actual design work, with the balance eaten up by administrative and software issues.” Onshape Enterprise dramatically reduces this downtime since all users will always have the latest version running, and all data and design documents are stored in the same place along with a digital paper trail showing what changes were made to any file and by whom.
Onshape Enterprise has been developed to meet the needs of expanding organizations, and as an organization grows the number of stakeholders who require access to its data increases. However, setting up new CAD seats and PDM vaults can be a time consuming and expensive process, with long installs as well as hardware and software changes being frequent. To help ensure that your engineers are not spending their days on IT support duty, Onshape Enterprise can instantly extend CAD access to any specified user both inside or outside of the organization. Additionally, Onshape Enterprise also introduces new user categories such as the ‘light user’ and ‘guest user.’ An Enterprise ‘light user’ can be given access to design data and activity without receiving access to the full arsenal of CAD modelling capabilities, and only costs 1/10th the price of a ‘full user’ account. A light user can, for example, be a member of an organization’s marketing or sales team who requires non-engineering access to certain documents. ‘Guest’ status can also be assigned to users, giving them access only to documents shared with them, allowing external contractors, vendors, and suppliers to access certain files without exposing an entire IP to the world.
Finally, according to Mr. Corcoran, one of the most pronounced flaws still plaguing engineering teams worldwide is their lack of access to realtime data, that is very little or no visibility of what other members of the engineering team are up to, especially in larger organizations. To solve this, Onshape Enterprise introduces new realtime analytics capabilities that provides managers with in-depth details regarding active projects, documents, and users. This again is thanks to the fact that Onshape runs on a centralized cloud database as opposed to using local file systems. “We can permanently record all user activity as it happens, including every login, extrude, fillet, mate, merge, share, export and comment in realtime,” wrote Mr. Corcoran on the Onshape blog.
To summarize, Onshape Enterprise introduces a slew of new features aimed at improving the efficiency and ergonomics of CAD usage in complex organizations. This includes comprehensive audit logs, centralized access reporting, instant setup, new user types, project activity tracking, and raw analytics data export tools.
For more information on Onshape Enterprise, visit their website or check out their YouTube channel for more in-depth tutorials. The video below provides a short introduction to the company and their philosophy for those interested.