Start of SWW: Rountables

First up on the schedule at Soldiworks World is a Roundtable discussion titled “Magic Drawings”. These round tables were just recently described to me by Jeff Mirisola (of Jeff ‘s Toolshed) as “A bunch of power users sitting around bashing the product”. Now this may be the case but when I heard that I just couldn’t help but think, squeaky wheel. The sessions are held in one of the ballrooms at the Marriott and are setup to accommodate about 20-25 folks and we’ve got about a quarter of the seats filled.

Put on by two Solidworks employees Marc Leizza and Melissa Appel the session is used to gather information on what users need and where industry is going. Mark led off with the question “ If you had a magic wand, what would be the ultimate way to create a drawing. Would you even create a drawing. Solidworks aside, what is your ideal case?” Nothing like being open ended to drive innovation.

One attendee wants to eliminate the time spent making a drawing, adhering to standards and generally wasting time doing repetitive tasks. “Let me just design the product. I want it to automatically create drawings, I hate detailing, drawings are required but it’s a waste of my time.” An hour later in the roundtable the same user also commented that when doing these tedious tasks he routinely catches mistakes or issues that require further clarification. It is this dichotomy that allows me to give the benefit of the doubt to software providers when things inevitably do not work the way I expect or wish.

The discuss was lively with Marc driving by adding a few questions. Can you go paperless, WOULD you go paperless. What can be done to make drawing creation easier. The attendees generally seem knowledgeable and all clearly have used the software for some time. Of course a few comments were greeted with chuckles and admissions of using outdated (read 2008) software but generally referred to big picture items rather than nit picky bugs and errors in the current builds.

The consensus here is that drawings are outdated but required. They are required for certain situations where QA is required or a computer can not go. I’m 24, my solution to everything is put it on a computer screen. This is why I am *almost* for the iPad, I think it will make a tablet more ubiquitous. It is a marriage of the old school, which still dominates much of the manufacturing world, and the new school (my group that says “Just give them a screen”). With CNC, rapid prototyping and 3D going everywhere I no longer buy into the paper as king. Paper is too static. Paper is a fire, one temperature hope it is the right temperature and I’ll guess at the time. Screens, be it tablet or not, are ovens or maybe even microwaves. Sure the learning curve is a little bit steeper but the result is a better product. Now with this analogy of course there are still things that are better over an open flame and it is not going away. A tablet allows a way to give paper power. Forget a section view, let whoever is holding the paper create it. Production floor confused about final geometry, let them spin the drawing iso view around and zoom in.

So what is in store for drawings? Will Solidworks one day include a do my job button. Maybe some AI will allow it to see what is happening day in and day out and learn how to do it alone. Roll into work in the morning and have all the drawings for that day on the screen. Dimensioning out of the way, GD&T standards all followed, coffee piping hot.

After listening to input on what the ideal software would be like Marc and Melissa wrapped up by giving out some contact info and requesting everyone to let them know directly if they had other issues. Then I got a chance to sit down with Marc for a few moments and ask him about the session and his time. For a man who spent all day Saturday helping alpha testers, is running 3 round tables today, and has a host of meetings on his schedule he seemed generally happy to give me a minute of his time.

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