But what does design automation actually mean when you say it?
A more general way to define design automation is that it is the ability to reduce repetitive design tasks in the design processes, so that design engineers have more time to innovate. These automated processes not only help in relieving the pressure from the design department but enables the data to be transferred with greater level of confidence to other business areas. With trustworthy data downstream, the work on the teams at the downstream end reduces significantly.
Consider an example where a design team develops a Bill of Material (BOM) and releases it to other departments of the company. There can be numerous concerns with the BOM, such as how well the data was checked for correctness, how is the data stored; and if any of the item has a drawing, is it updated? These questions are common, since data from various departments is imported to another system.
With conventional setup, the major problem occurs when few of the processes are bypassed due to usual reasons and excuses. With each process bypass, the confidence in the data is compromised. It is thus important to consider all the processes; not just for designs but also how the design interacts with rest of the company. Automation should then be implemented for each process individually to realize the impact or bottle necks in another. Thus automation in itself is an iterative process and ascertains greater benefits to the company right from the moment it is implemented.
Design Automation BenefitsThe prominent benefit most companies find after implementing design automation is the significant reductions in paperwork across multiple departments.
Design automation also ensures that there remains a single source of truth that departments refer for any activity. This reduces chances of errors and rework and enhances the confidence in the data being utilized across all the departments. It becomes easier then to audit the design or process. Further, there is a dramatic reduction in cost and time to market the product, thereby improving the customer’s brand loyalty.
“Collaborating with Hi-Tech CADD Services to implement design automation through DriveWorks enabled us to reduce the engineering lead time from 4-5 days to few hours. We can actually deliver the customized door to the customers on the same day of their order. With the new process in place, we have reduced material wastage, improved the design quality and gained better profit.” CEO, leading metal door & frame manufacturer, USA.
Where to start with Design Automation?Implementation should obviously start with design department where the team can identify possibilities of standardizing the design and automating the output for downstream departments. But this is only possible with proper understanding on the organization’s current processes both business processes and design processes.
While business processes focus on end to end processes such as sales, design, manufacturing, maintenance and support, design process is more focused on the design inputs and outputs, methods and processes utilized to complete the projects. Reviewing both enables the company to develop a road-map that will be used in future to automate the processes for new projects in future.