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Beyond 3D Podcast with David Ewing of Aras - 3D PDF is a Home Run, and Any Company of Any Size Can Afford to Implement It

Posted by Tyler Barnes on Oct 10, 2016 11:18:08 AM

In this episode of the Beyond 3D podcast, David Ewing from the Aras Corporation talks about how he and his team implemented a 3D PDF strategy for a project while he was at B/E Aerospace that ended up saving hundreds of hours, and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And it was so simple and effective, that using 3D PDF has now become the standard on nearly every project.

"Yeah, this had a very big customer in Boeing, but the spend was very, very low. We also started with a relativity complex problem. This is something really, in my opinion, it's a home run project. You're a small company, you make widgets that you supply to some other company, this is a great opportunity to streamline your engineering process. You can actually remove some of the drafting steps and go to a 3D PDF. You're getting extremely accurate data in there, machinable, in fact, that's surfacing that are extremely accurate.

Now that ... as the consumer of that drawing, whatever customer that you supply to, they don't need to have views that you would typically fret over in making a drawing. They can rotate the model and create as many views as they want. It's an infinite type thing. Think of the component modeling and drafting, this is a perfect fit. It's a home run, and it's really a straight forward project. I don't like to use words easy and impossible, the absolutes, it's just work.”

Dave Ewing’s challenge to our listeners: I've always thought that if you put a smart team together, they'll come up with some great ideas, that they can take a look at what you do. My challenge would be pick a couple folks in your organization to take a look at where some opportunities might be. Go adopt something and drop some money on it. It takes a little bit of investment to make this happen, whether it be starting with a simple drawing, or some type of documentation, and the biggest bang is really getting that 3D in there.

I would say your simple piece part drawings. Go do it. This is not hard. It's not necessarily easy. You just got to work through it. This fits right into any PLM system. Granted, Aras has it built right in. Day one, we bet on it. This is the right way to go, but hey look, our brother in the PLM industry, they supported also. You don't have to be on Aras. Siemens supports it. Go off and do it. Pick a project, go do it. I would highly suggest an agile methodology so that you can start small, get some quick wins, and iterate on it, and keep refining it until you get to something and say, "Hey, we're done." Then you generated this win and energy and a better business process. That energy, now you can run with that.

You've got a whole bunch of people saying, "Now they're pulling on the rope. Hey, I've seen this work. Now can we do X, Y, and Z?" That's powerful because now you've got people all bought in across the organization and that's huge. Go do it.”

Listen to this episode:

Tags: complexity, 3D data, 3D PDF, CAD/CAM, engineering, 3D CAD, PLM, manufacturing, technical data package, automotive, aerospace

Free Trial of Tetra4D Enrich: http://www.tetra4d.com/

Learn more about Aras Corporation: http://www.aras.com/ 

To read the full podcast transcript, see below.

read-transcript.png

Angela Simoes:

Hey everybody, welcome to the Beyond 3D podcast. We are here to talk today about 3D PDF and the magic that it can provide your team as far as collaboration and getting things done. Today on the show we have Dave Opsahl. Who is vice president of corporate development for Tech Soft 3D. Hi, Dave. 

Dave Opsahl:

Howdy. 

Angela:

And Tyler Barnes, vice president of Marketing for Tech Soft 3D.

Tyler Barnes:

Hello.

Angela:

Hey, Tyler. Our special guest is David Ewing, who is product marketing manager at Aras corporation and a champion of 3D PDF. Thanks David for joining us.

David Ewing:

Hello. Thanks for having me.

Angela:

To get started, David Ewing, why don't you just tell us, because we have two Dave's on the line, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you're doing at Aras?

David E.:

My background starting quickly from the beginning, I'm an engineer by degree. I designed turbines for a while at General Electric, and then I got into automation and that got me into PLM and took a few stints at B/E Aerospace Commons, and now I'm at Aras where I was a product manager that helped to develop parts of the software, and now product marketing where I like to think of what I do as translating the highly technical PLM jargon that comes from product teams into something that regular humans can read. The folks in the business that have buy this, and we try to translate that and show them how we can help.

Angela:

You're a translator of sorts. You help us all understand and that other stuff.

David E.:

Yeah, I'm the guy that sits on the fence between the technical and the non-technical so I can speak with just ...

Angela:

That's been an issue for a long, long time. When did you first start using 3D PDFs? I know we have a story of a big project when you were at B/E Aerospace and the team there. Tell us a little bit about how that all got started.

David E.:

Well, our team was struggling through a rapid growth period, specifically in the first class seats. Most of us aren't fortunate enough to fly in the really nice seats, but there's a lot going on under the cushions and covers that we don’t see when we walk through first class to the coach seating.

 

Those seats, when you're producing so many of them, you get so many things going on that we were having challenges, working with Boeing on the integration. Boeing needs to make sure that the seat integrates to the aircraft both from mechanical sense and electrical sense. It obviously has to fit. You have to be able to plug all the cabling in for the power and various electronic systems.

 

The old fashioned drawing that most of us are all familiar with, that process was really breaking down. It would take a day to just do a drawing update. It was about a week or so to create ... actually, more than a week. It was weeks to create the drawings.

Angela:

Wow.

David E.:

These weren't manufacturing drawings either. These were the drawings that Boeing needed to get all the necessary views to make sure the seat was acceptable. We laugh about counting the numbers zip ties, but they actually do. That's part of a certification requirement, making sure that there's no wires that can fall out from under a seat that if there were an emergency, you could trip on. Those are all critical things from an FA certification standpoint that Boeing's checking, so we really had to have our information together to help them out.

Angela:

I'm curious, did you have to ... why did you turn to 3D PDF and did you have to do some convincing internally to get people on board or a bit of both?

David E.:

A little bit. The transition was a little bit gradual. We had heard about the technology. Everybody knew what PDF was. Everyone saves a word file to PDF; we're quite familiar with that. This idea of, "Hey, we can put a 3D model in there" was intriguing. We started exploring that with a couple of vendors and thought, "Hey, this works."

 

At that point in time the engineering team transferred the work to my team, and I had an engineering services team where we helped build tools, PLM tools, modeling, drawing tools to help the engineers be better, faster, cheaper. We ran with it, and we dug in, and how do we get these models in there? What does it look like? What's going to be useful from our perspective, but also from the customer, meaning Boeing's perspective. Then it became a very straight forward development project where you lay some requirements down, you build it, basically using an agile method. Build it, try it, test it, go through another sprint. Do it again. At the end of the day, it was very, very successful, probably the biggest ROI project we ever did; a relatively low cost project. It was something that I'm still very, very proud of. I know they still use it, and they've continued to develop it a bit.

Angela:

Hopefully used it in lots of other areas of the company, right? Not just that one...

David E.:

Oh, yeah. From the perspective of Boeing, they were extremely happy. They actually said, "Hey, this is great. Every vendor, you guys got to do it this way, too," which was great to be able to lead a pack in that sense. Our operations team saw some of the capability we built where we could actually interrogate the building materials while you're in this 3D PDF and be able to say, "sort" and selectively turn off parts of the model. If you only wanted to see the ground, that's something that Boeing would do is check grounds. They turn off all the seats except the grounds because we knew all this information on the building material that we pushed into this 3D PDF.

 

The manufacturing guy said, "Hey, can you use this concept so that we can see build stages." Well, why not? We just need an attribute and the building material and the manufacturing build that told us sequencing. You could see where you could go with this technology. It was great.

Angela:

Some of our listeners might be listening to this and thinking, "Oh, that's great for a company like Boeing, who is huge and has giant budgets. I'm a small guy, I'm never going to be able to afford something like that." I also want to bring Dave and Tyler into the conversation. When it comes to small and mid-size manufacturers or companies who have a need for this kind of technology who are thinking, "I would never be able to do this." What's your message to them? You did mention debuting that it actually was pretty low cost. Was that a misconception?

David E.:

Yeah, this had a very big customer in Boeing, but the spend was very, very low. We also started with a relativity complex problem. This is something really, in my opinion, it's a home run project. You're a small company, you make widgets that you supply to some other company, this is a great opportunity to streamline your engineering process. You can actually remove some of the drafting steps and go to a 3D PDF. You're getting extremely accurate data in there, machinable, in fact, that's surfacing that are extremely accurate.

 

Now that ... as the consumer of that drawing, whatever customer that you supply to, they don't need to have views that you would typically fret over in making a drawing. They can rotate the model and create as many views as they want. It's an infinite type thing. Think of the component modeling and drafting, this is a perfect fit. It's a home run, and it's really a straight forward project. I don't like to use words easy and impossible, the absolutes, it's just work.

Angela:

Dave or Tyler, some of the conversations that you are having with Tech Soft 3D customers who might be mid-size or small, what are those conversations like? Are you having to convince them or educate them. Like, "Hey, you know, this is a very accessible technology."

Dave:

This is David Opsahl, I think Dave just pointed out a very common conversation that I find myself in a lot and it is really about how you explain to someone that there's a tremendous amount of benefit there, a relatively small amount of risk, something that's very accessible and reachable by virtually anyone in the organization. You find a certain sense of disbelief when you talk to people. They kind of go, "No, it's not possible."

Angela:

Too good to be true, right?

Dave:

Pretty much. Yeah, it fall into that category, and I think that stories like the one that Dave is telling right now are the kind of thing that hopefully will help people realize that it isn't someone who is developing a software product that necessarily is telling them how that's really the case. It's people like Dave that have gone out and actually done this, and they've used it to tackle pretty significant problems. You think about the scope of what he's describing, and the financial impact to a company like Boeing, if they can achieve that at a relatively small amount of risk, why can't you at a small company or a mid-size corporation? I can resonate with that conversation quite easily.

Angela:

Tyler, anything you wanted to add?

Tyler:

Nothing particularly unique. I would echo that what Dave said, we see all types of companies being successful with 3D PDF, and I think it does come down a lot of times to an awareness. I had no idea my PDF could do that, that has reader on their machine could actually do and interact with a 3D model.

 

We see companies of all sizes. One of our partners is SolidWorks, and they've added 3D PDF to their MBD module. That's a big company, but they sell to a lot of mid-size manufacturers, and the reason they added that into SolidWorks MBD is because that's a technology that is, as is already been said, very accessible, very easy to integrate into your existing systems. All of a sudden, a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have had access to the valuable data that's included in the 3D model because that model is in engineering. Now they have access to that. That can inform the decision they're making.

Angela:

Let's talk about some specific use cases, maybe. I know that we've said that there are lots of applications, and collaboration is definitely something that comes into play, what would be ... let's just name a couple of different use cases that might resonate with our listeners here.

David E.:

I think one thing that we used when I was at B/E is the ability to annotate that 3D PDF. When we sent that, the PDF document to Boeing, and they did see things that they needed us to adjust. The old days, you take a red pen to the drawing, and you would have printed out fifty pages, and you would take a red pen and mark it up. With a 3D PDF, you're able to annotate that, and what actually happens is it actually snapshots the camera angle and view, and it drops the annotation in. When that PDF is saved and sent back from Boeing to the B/E office, that electrical team was able to see exactly what that engineer was seeing, so you get direct feedback.

 

The collaboration, all be it's a send and receive markup, it's not real time, it gives you a lot more context of what that engineer was seeing when he's marking it up. Granted, this is a large assembly. This applies to the simplest of piece parts, too. You're in a situation where you're a provider to a OEM in automotive, aerospace, or heavy machinery, or anything like that where you've got the parent customer marking things up and feeding back, "I need to integrate it this way." Great you can see that capture of that context.

Angela:

What would you say is the learning curve for something? Again, thinking about our listeners, and they might be loving what they're hearing, and to Dave's point, "Hey, this might be too good to be true. That what he hears from some of the customers." Another resistance might be, "Oh, but it sounds hard, and I don't know that I would be able to do it. I'm not an engineer." What's the learning curve with multiple roles, right? I think one of things we talk about is that you don't have to know CAD, you don't have to be an engineer. You can annotate on a 3D PDF and not have ... not need specific technical experience. What would you say is a learning curve? How would you talk about that with different roles?

David E.:

Would you like me to comment on that?

Angela:

You or if Dave or Tyler has examples of other customers they would talk to.

David E.:

I think, just quickly, our experience was that it was extremely straight forward. Everyone was familiar with a PDF interface using the Adobe Reader. You can use any reader. From that aspect, PDF is ubiquitous. The telling point was when you could take someone who hasn't seen it before, a chief engineer, or someone like that, that is moderately technical, but they've been separated from CAD for years, and they can jump in and operate a designer view using a PDF, you've hit the mark. You try to design something that fits the entire firm that you don't need to have some complex set of instructions. Again, this is a home run. This is not something that's hard to digest.

Dave:

That mirrors my experience, too. I think that part of the low risk at high value part of the proposition is that, as Dave said at the beginning, you know what a PDF file is, you think about an organization beyond that. They know exactly how to manage those things. There's really nothing that you have to do in order to streamline the adoption of this. Whatever means somebody wants to use to actually manage these things once you have created them. The chief engineer can pull them up out of his email if he wants to or whatever system they use to manage their technical data and just start to work.

Tyler:

Angela, I think some of the good ... you were talking about use cases, and we've talked about somewhat technical use cases so far, but where you really see this ease of adoption thing come through is when have people who just aren't engineers interacting with data. When it's something like assembly instructions ... I've actually seen people use it to show them how to assemble Legos. For something as mundane as that, but having the power of 3D interactive model, and just being able to click on it, walk through steps, see how things fit together, so when you take it outside of that manufacturing context and you start talking about things like work instructions, things like that, and you have people who aren't technical at all, that's where you can really see how powerful it is. It is. It's just a viewer, and if you know how to open up Acrobat, and interact with content in Acrobat, it's just like doing that.

Angela:

I think that's a great point because we were going back to talking about collaboration and how debuting sits on the fence between these groups. It's not just two groups, right? There's multiple groups that are having to work together and communication is always an issue. Understanding the different documents is always an issue. Then, Dave Opsahl, your point about it being a very easy integration because that's another resistance that people have. Like, "Oh, God, another system, but I have to implement. I'm going to have downtime, and my teams going to have to take time away from doing what they're doing." It sounds like that's really not the case. If there is some downtime, it might be a couple hours, not a couple weeks.

Tyler:

You know one thing that might an interesting illustration of that is we haven't asked Dave about Aras PLM and their use of PDF and what he's hearing from his customers, but PLM stretching outside of engineering and manufacturing touch all the other groups that are involved with the development of a new product and managing that products lifecycle. I would be interested in hearing Dave talk a little bit about that.

Angelia:

Sure.

David :

Well, we believe in the idea of PDF as a delivery vehicle, and I say PDF in general for both a 2D document, like you might think of the word, "Doc," and also for 3D for a drawing or a model. To that extent, we've build it into the standard product that you get from Aras, the Aras Innovator PLM package. That's included with the software, reinstall it. There's no extra licensing, you're a subscriber, you get it. That's if you put a document in there.

 

One of the things we have is on the front end, you're making documents, a requirement document, or proposals from a marketing team or something like that. You're using the office suite, our office connector, it enables this PDF conversion, so as you're done creating your Word file, your PowerPoint or Excel, and you save that into the Innovator, into Aras Innovator, the PDF's automatically generated. It's automatically put in the item. You don't have to think about it; we do it for you. The same applies to the guy who's doing the model, so that heavy CAD guy. He's over there cranking away, and he had saved to go home for the day, and it's automatically ... pushes the model back in and then creates a 3D PDF of that model.

 

Now I've got this ubiquitous capability of viewing, and we've built a viewer in on top of Aras so that no matter what type of user you've got, the marketing guy that's comfortable in Word, but, "Hey, I'm not sure what this thing looks like," well, no problem. He can go open a part for the bill of material and see the 3D PDF for that part or that assembly, whatever the product is. It's the same viewing capability, completely comfortable, able to move throughout the suite of tools. We even go as far as with our new capabilities with technical documentation to publish a PDF, so it's something that we use across the board.

Angela:

What has been the ... with some of your customers that are using this solution, what's been the time to, "Okay, we tell them about this solution. They see it. They adopt it. Then, they're using." What's that whole timeline like? If it's not that simple ...

David E.:

No, no, it really is. Engineers, we talk about the business of engineering here that it's more than just making 3D models and some drawings. There's a lot more going on to profitability make a product that hits the market specs and keeps your business going. That means you're generating documents, and whether it's the chief engineer writing reports or a certification engineer writing a report or what have you, our customers are able to ... once they subscribe, they use the office connector. It becomes second nature. They're used to using Word. They can start Word. There's an Aras toolbar. They don't have to enter Aras first; they enter Office. They're comfortable.

 

That's a case where we didn't have to change their own workflow, how they come in in the morning and do their work. I think that's one thing that helps along the way too whenever you're developing a solution is to try to not disrupt the workflow as much as possible.

 

The biggest thing that we get ... the biggest feedback is ... well, taking a quick step back, we think that when we really do our job right building PLM, we blend into the background. You don't have to think about us. You're able to execute what you have to do. We see that with the Office connector and the PDF capability. We blend in the background; people don't have to think anymore. It's second nature. We're used to using the Office suite.

 

Now, take that a step further, where I can go in the PLM suite, and I can see the viewable file, that PDF through our viewer. Whether it's a 2D document, PowerPoint, what have you, specification document, or a 3D CAD model that's been converted, now I can go in and use our mark-up tools to go in and mark it up. If you think of ... you made a point about assembly instructions, so if the guy in the shop says, "Hey, this doesn't fit." He's able to open that PDF, mark it up, generate a problem report, and that mark-up travels with the item. It doesn't revise the item, it actually travels with it. Everybody in the organization can see it. Instead of just having a problem report, we see it. We see the problem. You can even snap a picture and mark it up if you needed to. That capability now increases the value of the tool set, but by increasing the efficiency of the people who are doing the work.

Angela:

It sounds like everybody that's listening should go try it if they haven't tried it already.

David E.:

We like to think so.

Angela:

Yeah. We're coming up on our time here, so I'll just ask Dave and Tyler for some final thoughts, and then we're going to get our challenge for our listeners from Dave Ewing. Dave or Tyler, any final thoughts you wanted to share before we wrap up?

Dave:

I think we hit on major points. This is a piece of technology that has a lot of potential for people and companies of all sizes. You don't have to be a Boeing. You don't have to be thinking about an enterprise class solution to figure out how you can make this benefit your organization.

Angela:

Right.

Dave:

They can give it a try.

Angela:

Agreed.

Tyler:

I think that that's one thing we talked a lot about documentation and drawings today, but really you can think of a whole lot of different applications of this technology and you don't need to be a major enterprise to use it. It's something that you can download, try out for yourself, and really as you show people this technology, they go, "Wow, I can think of about ten places in my organization this will be really effective." You can make this an engineering data available in all sorts of different formats, whether that's assembly, disassembly, maintenance repair operations or just a brochure, just being able to bring something to life in 3D is extremely valuable. Yeah, check it out.

Angela:

Dave, I think your challenge is going to be similar, but what's your final word and our challenge for our listeners today?

David :

I've always thought that if you put a smart team together, they'll come up with some great ideas, that they can take a look at what you do. My challenge would be pick a couple folks in your organization to take a look at where some opportunities might be. Go adopt something and drop some money on it. It takes a little bit of investment to make this happen, whether it be starting with a simple drawing, or some type of documentation, and the biggest bang is really getting that 3D in there.

 

I would say your simple piece part drawings. Go do it. This is not hard. It's not necessarily easy. You just got to work through it. This fits right into any PLM system. Granted, Aras has it built right in. Day one, we bet on it. This is the right way to go, but hey look, our brother in the PLM industry, they supported also. You don't have to be on Aras. Siemens supports it. Go off and do it. Pick a project, go do it. I would highly suggest an agile methodology so that you can start small, get some quick wins, and iterate on it, and keep refining it until you get to something and say, "Hey, we're done." Then you generated this win and energy and a better business process. That energy, now you can run with that.

 

You've got a whole bunch of people saying, "Now they're pulling on the rope. Hey, I've seen this work. Now can we do X, Y, and Z?" That's powerful because now you've got people all bought in across the organization and that's huge. Go do it.

Angela:

To take a tagline from Nike, "Just do it."

David E.:

That's right.

Angela:

Excellent. Well, thank you everybody for your participation today. If our listeners are not convinced to at least look at 3D PDF, and take a spin, I'm not sure what else would convince them to do so. You heard it here, everybody. Go do it. Go try it. There's free trials, so it's not going to cost you anything. Just Google, "Free trial 3D PDF." I'm sure we'll have lots of links that come up. Of course, we will include some specific links in our show notes to direct you in the right location.

 

With that, thanks everybody for listening. Please be sure to subscribe to the Beyond 3D podcast on SoundCloud and on iTunes. Leave us a review and share with all your colleagues, friends, and family. Get them listening as well. Until next time, thanks everybody. Have a great day.

 

Thank you for joining us on the Beyond 3D podcast, hosted by Tech Soft 3D. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes and leave us a review or subscribe on SoundCloud. To listen to past episodes, or learn more about Tech Soft 3D, visit www.techsoft3D.com/blog. Send us comments and suggestions at info@techsoft3D.com. Thanks again for listening, and we hope you'll join us again on the next episode of Beyond 3D.

Topics: 3D PDF