Computer-Aided Design (CAD) has been one of the most enduring and adaptable aspects of computers in the workforce. The first use of a CAD program goes back to 1962 and SketchPad, a program that lets users draw directly on a screen for the first time.
Since then, it has been adopted by the automotive and aerospace industries to design better cars and planes. In manufacturing, it has been used to design almost anything that you can imagine being created by a factory.
To give you a better understanding of CAD and how it can integrate into your CPQ system to provide a remarkable customer experience, we’ll take a look at what CAD automation looks like in a manufacturing setting, why it has become so important, and what the future of CAD automation looks like.
How is CAD used in manufacturing?
CAD has traditionally been used in manufacturing to help design products. Now, with faster processors and better graphics, a computer can create a fully realized 3D model of a product that is totally photorealistic.
But it goes beyond just creating a model on the computer that shows what the product will look like. It can also show exactly how the product will function by simulating everything from dynamics and fluid flow to stress and vibration. You’ll know exactly how the product will work and if there are any problems that need to be addressed before you start actually making the product.
Now, many of these details are also automated because of the high learning curve when it comes to using CAD. The actual designs are created by engineers and then automated so that someone who doesn’t have an engineering background can manipulate the product and still create a working item that meets all the standards of the original design.
CAD can also be tied together with new technology such as 3D printers to create miniature “mock-ups” of a product. While the 3D printed model might not be a working depiction of the original, it can still be useful when it comes to the planning stages. But, most importantly, it can be an invaluable sales tool that can show the customer what their finished product will look like. This will reduce the possibility of a displeased customer not liking their purchase because it “doesn’t look like they expected it to.”
Why is CAD important to the manufacturing industry?
To say that CAD models were a game-changer for the manufacturing industry would be an understatement. Today, it would be almost impossible to imagine a manufacturing company not using CAD for its design needs.
What is so useful with CAD is the level of accuracy it has. CAD models can be drawn to scale and then enlarged or reduced knowing that the scaled dimensions will still be maintained in the final product. Also, past forms of hand-drawing models required extensive work to fix mistakes and design errors. CAD makes this about as difficult as pushing a button.
Now, what might have once taken a team of engineers months to complete can be done with less human resources and more computing power to create a better resolution model that is much more accurate and can show all of the inner workings of the product in real-time.
How does CAD and CPQ Work Together?
One of the best integrations for CAD in the manufacturing industry is with a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) solution. With this set-up, an engineer can create a CAD model of a product that can be configured to meet a customer’s needed specifications.
Then, the sales rep can manipulate this model in real-time to match the customer’s requests. When paired with a visual configurator, the customer can actually go to the company website and do this customization themselves.
Once the CAD model is customized, a bill of materials (BOM) is generated. From this, all the items and materials needed can be produced or ordered and the product can move quickly into production.
How can CAD integration speed up the sales process?
There’s no disputing that CAD integration can help you by speeding up the sales process. First, the sales associates can do most of the customization themselves with the aid of the CAD model. In the past, they would have to take the customer’s specifications to the engineering department. From there, a drawing would need to be generated, and then a BOM and finally, a quote would have to be generated. This could take several days or even weeks.
Now, a design can be created almost instantly using CAD integration without the engineering department being brought in for a consultation. The entire process is moved ahead, and the engineers can continue working on developing new projects instead of working to configure already established products. In addition, the process is much more accurate as the customer is able to see a fully rendered 3D model of their product for final approval.
CAD Automation Is the Future of Manufacturing
CAD integration and automation is the next logical step in the development of the manufacturing industry. By automating these computer designs, you can move your configuration process along faster and ensure that products are designed perfectly before moving into production.