How to Successfully Migrate Engineering Data to a New CAD System

Companies globally, require multiple CAD systems to accomplish their product development objectives. The use of multiple CAD platforms could be at a departmental level within the organization or it could be required while communicating with outside vendors and customers.

Moreover, with advancement in CAD technology, there are also business requirements of data standardization. These are some of the important drivers that force manufacturers to migrate their engineering data to a newer and better CAD system.

However, migrating entire product design information to a new platform brings along an array of challenges. Businesses need to raise important questions before switching to a new CAD system, such as how much beneficial the migration would be?

How many legacy data requires to be converted in the new format?

How to avoid errors while migrating? What are the pre and post requisites for the migration process?

The difficulty level in migration becomes exponential with an increase in volume of data, quality and complexity.


Business Objective

Identifying business objective that prompted you to take the initiative of data migration to a new CAD system is of a paramount importance. Figuring out long term business goals with the CAD upgrade should be a formal component of your migration strategy.

Establishing objectives prior to migration will help in efficient implementation of the program with a clear understanding of the project tasks.

Return on Investment

It is also crucial to consider the return on investment behind the idea of migrating the engineering data to a different CAD system. It is important to estimate future return from the conversion process of existing CAD data and scope of that effort.

Some of the important considerations might include determining the value of the legacy product designs to the company, reduction in manufacturing time that can be achieved by implementing new CAD technology and cost of designing the product.

Migration Approaches

  • Keep Legacy Data as It is and Model Only New Parts

This means keeping all the existing data in old CAD format and developing new products in new CAD systems. This strategy is good when the use of old design data is limited or the product line is entirely new. While this approach may be easy to implement, it could affect future design efficiency in case when the opportunity arises to reuse old design data.

  • Convert Products When Needed

This strategy may sound viable, but it is a result of lack of planning and can often result in compromised standards. On-demand conversion will often lead to low quality output since the deciding on the team to work on the product requiring conversion is likely taken hurriedly.

Since nobody is clear on who will be focusing on designing new product, the development process is likely to consume more time than required, resulting in increased time to market the product.

  • Converting Targeted Product Lines and Part Families

Selecting a specific set of product lines and part families for the conversion process that is expected to have more return value is a beneficial strategy. This approach can be implemented by focusing on product lines that are important to the firm from manufacturing and profit point of view.

Deciding on developing those products and part families using the new CAD system such as 3D from an old 2D platform can fuel innovation and shorten the development time considerably.

  • Migrate Everything

Migrating every design data in new CAD system is rarely done, but is certainly a move that is focused on long-term goals. It is a result of the decision that everyone involved directly or indirectly with product development speaks the same design language, irrespective of the profitable importance of the product.

Despite long term benefits, this approach is costly and requires critical planning and resource management. There are chances that much of the effort may be applied to parts and assemblies that are not less important and aren’t cost-effective.

Quality Requirements

With every conversion process, there is an attached concern about the quality and possibility of errors. As such, it is important to consider possibility of errors and strategies to handle them. There may be instance during migration that the design data may lose its original intent or there can be issues with fits and tolerances.

Errors could also be present due to incorrect dimensional representation, cluttered looks or incorrect font size. As such there has to be a clear strategy to handle these errors during the conversion process.

The Migration Process



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About Author:

Nikunj Patel is a design engineer working with Hi-Tech CADD Services for the past 4 years. He loves designing specialized industrial equipments and can always be found in the lab discussing, brainstorming & tweaking designs.