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4 Ways Connected Cloud PLM and CAD Optimize Design for Manufacturability

Cloud CAD and PLMIn 2016, a leading consumer electronics manufacturer made headlines when there were several reported cases of their flagship smartphone catching fire. After some investigation, the company identified a battery flaw as the culprit. The battery was assembled incorrectly, causing it to overheat. This resulted in the recall of more than 2.5 million smartphones worldwide.

So, what could have prevented this production error and massive product failure?

The answer lies in design for manufacturability (DFM). Given today’s global supply chain, manufacturers agree that DFM is essential to helping them deliver products on schedule while meeting their quality and cost targets. An estimated 80% of total product costs are incurred by the time designs are fully realized1. DFM ensures that the product design conforms to current good manufacturing practices (cGMPs). It also ensures that correct parts are sourced and that they comply with applicable industry regulations. Ultimately, companies minimize scrap and rework costs that are often attributed to production errors.

Historically, companies have relied on mechanical computer-aided design (mCAD), electrical design automation (EDA/eCAD), and product data management (PDM) software to create and maintain their design files. Yet, these disparate systems do not provide a comprehensive way to manage all aspects of the design. And because these systems are not tied to the entire product record—bills of materials (BOMs), approved manufacturer lists (AMLs), engineering change orders, assembly instructions, quality processes, etcetera—everyone involved in validating and producing the final product does not have full visibility throughout the development process. In many cases, suppliers and other downstream team members are not brought into the review loop until the initial production phase. At that point, DFM related product changes may be expensive to implement.

With teams becoming more dispersed and technological advancements driving greater product complexity, manufacturers must address DFM early on and throughout the entire lifecycle to achieve commercialization success.


Today, many manufacturers are leveraging cloud-based CAD and product lifecycle management (PLM) software solutions to open the lines of communication and optimize DFM.

Cloud-native CAD solutions like Onshape integrate CAD and product data management (PDM) capabilities in a single platform. This eliminates the need to manually manage design files, thereby reducing errors. With built-in version control, the most current and accurate designs are always accessible to team members.

Cloud PLM solutions like Arena help engineers, quality, operations, and even external partners practice DFM throughout the product lifecycle—from prototyping and sourcing to product fabrication, testing, and delivery. By aggregating the entire product record, everyone has instant access to designs, BOMs, AMLs, drawings, and assembly instructions to ensure that products are built within quality and cost constraints.

Onshape Arena Connection

Connecting Cloud-Native PLM and CAD With a Simple Click

With a simple click of a button, Arena and Onshape users can access information between the Cloud PLM and CAD systems.

Together, these cloud-native solutions facilitate earlier DFM reviews and help streamline new product development and introduction (NPDI) processes in the following ways:

  1. Manage the complete product record
    Gaining control over the entire product record, which is comprised of mechanical, electrical, and software designs, is necessary to ensure both manufacturability and interoperability—especially with Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and other sophisticated technologies now added to the mix. By centralizing the product record in a single source of truth, the entire product team has visibility and traceability to ensure that the right product gets built without errors or cost overruns.
  2. Streamline engineering change management
    Through automated routings and notifications, teams can efficiently share, review, and approve design changes. Additionally, engineering changes and revision controls are automatically applied to parts, BOMs, and other critical records, making it easy for teams to work with the most current designs.
  3. Enhance collaboration with extended product teams and external partners
    Today’s global supply chain includes contract manufacturers, suppliers, designers, and other specialized partners. Leading OEMs include these partners in the product design cycle to leverage their expertise. Having secure access to the latest product design from any location enables these teams to provide feedback to help mitigate production issues, improve quality, and reduce the cost of goods sold (COGS).
  4. Simplify regulatory compliance
    Managing components and material compliance evidence is critical to ensuring that the finished product adheres to RoHS, REACH, conflict minerals, and other industry regulations. With access to electronic component databases like Octopart and SiliconExpert, teams can easily source compliant parts and incorporate them into their designs.


There are several lessons that we can learn from product failures such as the infamous smartphone recall. One being that DFM success hinges on frequent collaboration and an accurate flow of information between engineers, quality, manufacturing, suppliers, design partners, and other key players. By leveraging a connected cloud-native PLM and CAD solution, manufacturers can readily harness the extended product teams’ expertise to improve product quality and boost their bottom line.

To learn more about the Onshape-Arena Connection, read this press release.


  1. David M. Anderson. Design for Manufacturability & Concurrent Engineering: How to Design for Low Cost, Design in High Quality, Design for Lean Manufacture, and Design Quickly for Fast Production. 2004.