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Message 21 of 30 (5,791 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 07:30 AM in reply to: cbenner
Some great replies in this thread.... but my main thought is how bloody frightening it is that your company operates this way with heavy machinery!

Good luck in your battle.
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Message 22 of 30 (5,784 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 07:47 AM in reply to: guyh

I agree there is a ton of awesome information here, I am going to be creating a short report and hand it to my supers and use lots of good key points from here.


The company I work for only recently started "manufacturing" heavy equipment. There main business was simply purchasing old retired heavy equipment, refurbishing it with OEM parts and then re-selling at a discounted price.


Just recently, we started purchasing new equipment, and re-building it to "toughen' it up for hard rock mining here in Sudbury. The frame and working systems are not altered. We mainly just add on supports and wear plates. But all the electrical and hydraulic is switched to standard sizes and components available here in Canada.


If there ever was an issue with a scoop malfunctioning and causing damage or bodily harm, I believe it is still covered under the initial engineering done when the scoop was made, I could be wrong though...




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Message 23 of 30 (5,762 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 12:02 PM in reply to: rdyson

The safety issue comes to my mind as well.  If something goes wrong, even if technical liability is assigned to the original manufactuerer your company can still get a black eye by not having relevant information available about what was shipped vs. potential undocumented owner/operator mods.  Even having an engineer approved model will provide some legal fig leaves if the shop decides not to follow the agreed and approved plans.


You can't count on getting photos or sketches from the field, and even if you do there's always those areas where something is blocking the picture.  Unlike a model, where you can logically hide parts to see what is (or should be) there.


Something touched on earlier is modeling level of detail.  You don't necessarily need to model absolutely everything right now.  Trim it down to the bones, figure out what is absolutely necessary to start with and pitch that.  You can always add more later as your work processes and expectations firm up.


Something you could look into for already deployed equipment is LIDAR scanning.  Combined point clouds and pictures allows for a fairly detailed model of whats been built.  Somewhat expensive but if you are trying to model something without any documentation it makes for an excellent point of reference.

If you are going to fly by the seat of your pants, expect friction burns.
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Message 24 of 30 (5,753 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 02:23 PM in reply to: SeanFarr
I haven't the time to read all of this right now (but I am certainly going to later) so I apologize if these things have been mentioned but here are my first three thoughts on the issue that you should research before you make your case:

1.) Scalability - what happens when your company quadruples in size? What problems that you are having now scale with that? In my experience some issues don't grow linearly.

2.) Liabilty - who's responsible for what in a court of law? Information in manuals and drawings can legally imply liability and clearly documented procedures help define the "who's and what's".

3.) Efficiency - how do we maximize our revenue now and in the future? This is going to be a tricky one because it sounds like your company isn't collecting data on its processes anyway.

Often spending a little time researching how proper engineering protocols can impact these three areas will start to highlight areas where a case can be made to your superiors. You may not have access to some of this information but your case needs to be tied to the company's business plan. My guess is that there isn't a lot of planning in this company or your executive staff would be asking YOU these questions.

Good luck!
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Message 25 of 30 (5,750 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 02:36 PM in reply to: SeanFarr

Hi SeanFarr,

In addtion to all of the other replies this link might be worth a read:


I hope this helps.
Best of luck to you in all of your Inventor pursuits,


  solution.png  Did you find this reply helpful ? If so please use the Accept as Solution or  Kudos button below.

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Message 26 of 30 (5,736 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 04:31 PM in reply to: SeanFarr

There have been many good points provided so far.  To my mind, and from my experience, the best selling points are these:


1)  Reduction in liability.

          This is a potential company killer.  Given that you're remanufacturing mining equipment (an inherently dangerous industry) if there were to be a law suit over an injury or fatality incident, the mining company (or more likely their insurance provider) will likely sue anyone and everyone within sight.  Canada is not as litigious as the U.S., but it may not be a Canadian court that your company gets tried in.  If you don't have strong documentation of exactly what was modified and how, your company may be quickly submerged in... excrement.  With the OEM being situated in China, they will likely be either out of legal reach or heavily supported by the Chinese government, both legally and politically.  They will likely abdicate all responsibility if you so much as repaint over their logo, let alone re-plumb and re-wire their machine - with their knowledge and permission or without.  This would put your company square in the insurer's sights, and full steam ahead!  CAD documentation would be a part of this documentation, not the whole thing, but without it you're going to have a lot of trouble properly identifying the modifications made.  Imagine the witness stand...  Prosecutor: "Why did you make that change?"  Foreman: "We've always done it that way."  Prosecutor: "How do you know it's the right way?"  Foreman: "Old Bob said it was the right way."  Prosecutor: "Heresay, Your Honor, as Old Bob is deceased and cannot confirm this.  What documentation other than your memory do you have, Mr. Foreman?"  Foreman: "Gulp!"

          Have them talk to their lawyers.  They'll get an awful fright.


2)  Retention of corporate intellectual assets.

          This is basically the "hit by a bus" scenario, though the bus can be retirement, resignation, lay-off, or even mental illness.  How much money has the company invested in training its employees, generating trade practices, and developing product designs that make its products saleable to their clients?  Is the company willing to risk losing that value when employees get "hit by a bus?"

          Additionally, there is the market for replacement parts.  If your customer calls up for a bucket lift ram retraction hose and you can't make one for them without having the unit in the shop, that'll be the last time they call you for any replacement parts - be it a boom, bucket, motor, or hose fitting.  (They may also consider buying their next piece of equipment from a more professional manufacturer - someone serious about aftermarket support and service.)

          Have them talk to their shareholders.


3)  Increased design and production efficiencies.

          This is a tougher sell if you mostly do one-off products.  If every job is unique, there is less return on the design investment.  If, however, you ever build more than one, there will be great reward in being able to track: exactly what was made for each unit, exactly how each part was fit onto the unit, and exactly how much material was required.  "Old Bob" goes fishing for two weeks and New Guy doesn't get the full rundown from Old Bob on exactly how he does it...  now what?  Also, having a pile of steel plate, some angle iron, a few spools of hose, and some spools of wire and then "winging it" on the shop floor leads to excess rework and scrap.  Knowing in advance exactly what you need to make leads to efficiencies in plate and stock "nesting" and less on-hand inventory requirements.  (Excess stock keeping is cash that comes straight off of the bottom line.)

          Revisions to an existing design become somewhat trivial (certainly in design cost) when using CAD.  An additional benefit is having exact documentation on the specific feratures for each serial numbered machine shipped.  This, and other advantages, are probably well known to you already.

          Management may resist on the fear of the shop floor craftsmen revolting at the prospect of having their hard won knowledge "stolen" into the company's files.  The craftsmen sometimes measure their potential value to the company by how hard they can leverage their secret knowledge against the risk of being laid off - the more you know, the more you're worth to the company.  It's a legitimate concern, but if the company has a reasonably good relationship with its workers the notion of preserving their knowledge can be sold as easing their work load by not having to reinvent the wheel on each new piece of machinery.  This may free up some creativity at the shop floor level for helping design better techniques, layouts, features and even product lines - the engineering department doesn't have all the answers.

          Have them talk to their workers.


Ultimately it's all about bean counting.  Without a net saving the expenditure isn't worth it - including your salary.

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Message 27 of 30 (5,729 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 05:36 PM in reply to: graemev

I can't believe the replies to this, I am going to make a great report to my supervisors and hopefully we can sort out this new venture for us.


I appreciate them all and hopefully the thread becomes useful to others.



Sean Farr
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Message 28 of 30 (5,719 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-13-2013 07:40 PM in reply to: SeanFarr
Make sure your report is tied to the company business plan if possible. My employees have access to the milestones and key points in our yearly planning and I am always impressed when they come to my office with requests of theirs that they have carefully tied to the company's objectives by reviewing the current goals. I would sit down with your boss and explain that you are trying to map your departments future and define the workflows but that it's hard to do without information on key objectives and scalability. If you demonstrate that your research and planning is to further the company objectives they should be willing to help unless you've gone over someone else to do this.

As everyone else has said, this becomes a "show me the money" situation which you can't do without data. Collect the data first. If it exists already, great. If not, the first item of your report should be a plan that focuses on gathering it so you can show them where digital prototyping is valuable. You can tell them it's going to work all you want but it really comes down to simple math. Calculating an ROI is fruitless if you are just going to divide by zero. You need to define the zero first.

Good luck!
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Message 29 of 30 (5,685 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

08-14-2013 06:13 AM in reply to: SeanFarr

SeanFarr wrote:

... I am going to make a great report to my supervisors ....

Make sure you have someone else proof reed your report before you turn it in.
I just made have a dosen typos in another thread.

Even the highest pade professional writters in the world have editors.


Believe me - one typo can sink a report when someone is looking for a way to discredit or downplay your position.


(I noticed you used there for their several times.)  (I can always spot someone else's typos but not my own.)

Please mark this response as "Accept as Solution" if it answers your question.
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Message 30 of 30 (5,589 Views)

Re: Why use CAD?

10-04-2013 01:34 PM in reply to: SeanFarr

I so feel your pain!  I work at a company who's management has very much the same attitude.  To make matters worse, most of the engineers who worked here before me seem to have more or less agreed with that thinking.  CAD has been viewed as merely a way to save paper when drafting.  To this day, even though we have been using 3D CAD for going on ten years, we do not have a single top-level CAD assembly of any product.


And yet every single day I encounter problems in production that are easily traceable to poor or inadequate CAD practices.  If I had a magic answer for how to change management's thinking about this I would be happy to pass it on.  But I think it's like so many things:  the best you can do is chip away at it bit by bit and try to demonstrate how to do things better by a series of small examples.


It sounds like you're dealing with a small number of large, probably highly customized products.  Perhaps you could find one key subsytem that you can properly model relatively indpendently of the rest, and then track how easy it is to cusomize, revise, and problem solve with that system compared to unmodelled systems.

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