Connect Your CAD and Arena With CADTALK

Full transcript below:

Sarah Devlin

Welcome, everyone, to today’s Arena virtual event: “Connect Your CAD and Arena for Speed, Accuracy, and Team Happiness.”

Jeff Brickler

Hello, I’m Jeff Brickler and I’m the marketing and sales manager at CADTALK. Today I’m joined by my colleague Dylan Olson. Hi, Dylan. Please introduce yourself.

Dylan Olson

Thank you, Jeff. I am Dylan Olson and I am an implementation consultant here at CADTALK. I was trained as a manufacturing engineer and worked in industry for many years before joining the CADTALK team.

Jeff Brickler

Thank you, Dylan. Great to have you here with us and to share your expertise. Today’s session, before seeing a live demonstration of CADTALK’s integration with Arena, we’ll be reviewing what’s going on in engineering today and how do we overcome current challenges and do incredible work.

Thanks for joining us. Let’s get started. Dylan, over the last three years, we have read a lot of headlines about several challenges facing companies today. Some of these include “The Great Resignation,” supply chain instability, speed of technology, and manual outdated processes in a fast-paced world. When you worked in industry, Dylan, how did “The Great Resignation” affect you and the businesses you worked for?

Dylan Olson

The biggest effects from “The Great Resignation” on me were disruptions to the daily operations. With the number of employees lost due to this, we had to find new ways to accomplish the same amount of work with fewer resources. This caused us to get creative with improving and developing processes to not drive burnout or affect employee performance.

Jeff Brickler

That’s incredible to hear, Dylan. Thanks for that insight. The tough labor market underscores the importance of using automation and digital tools like CADTALK.

What about supply chain instabilities? The pandemic and the changing landscape of globalization has brought about rapid instability to the supply chain. How did the supply chain disruption affect you and the companies you worked for? How did you mitigate it?

Dylan Olson

The challenges I faced were ever-growing lead times on materials. The couple of our largest vendors were overseas and Europe and the lead times we had with them grew by 60 days at one point, which were already 90-day lead times in the logistics side of things with containers going by sea and port issues. It was a pretty insane time.

One thing we did to mitigate this was to do long lead time engineering bills of materials to release these specific materials before we had the product fully engineered. We had a structured bill of materials for aluminum extrusion and specialized glass and would enter those into the system to be able to order them early enough to have them in the plant with enough time to manufacture the product.

Jeff Brickler

Thank you, Dylan. The last two issues facing engineering go hand in hand—inefficient and outdated processes can cripple an organization. Dylan, talk about how the speed of technology has motivated manufacturers to overhaul their outdated processes and what’s prevented them from undertaking a digital transformation.

Dylan Olson

I believe a motivator for utilizing technology most is to reduce waste and improve efficiency. One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve come across is that people get scared of technology.

In my experience, when trying to automate the process of getting the engineering bill of materials into our system, there was a lot of pushback on the product being too custom to be able to automate anything and that we had designated people to do that data entry. There may be real concerns for an engineering company fully automating, but why not automate what you can to eliminate the risk of not keying something incorrectly when staring at one software to key into another?

Jeff Brickler

Those are good points, Dylan. It’s no secret that we live in a global economy and the competition in engineering is high. Out of the points of competition, quality, speed, innovation, efficiency, and costs, which do you see as the topmost on the list and why?

Dylan Olson

As a manufacturing engineer, my role revolved around quality and efficiency. If I were working towards high quality and efficiency, the costs would stay low. With being focused on efficiency, I was much more innovative than if I was not. When focused on efficiency, I produced a lot more innovative designs for assembly fixtures and the machines. I feel that being focused on quality and efficiency, you will get innovation, speed, and cost for free if you do it right.

Jeff Brickler

While those are great insights, I can see how CADTALK can help in each of these points. Technology plays a significant role today in a company’s success. We rely so much on the technological environment to drive our goals.

Products like CADTALK help automate the non-value-added work, give us insights into our business, and allow us to be creative to solve complex problems and enjoy our work. Can you talk about how technology has helped you find more creativity and satisfaction in your work?

Dylan Olson

Yeah. The biggest items technology has helped me to find more creativity and satisfaction in my work is by minimizing the mind-numbing tasks like data entry. Data is extremely important in the manufacturing world, but manually keying and data that already exists elsewhere can be super aggravating.

By utilizing technology to not have to manually enter from one software to another, frees up a ton of time to focus on things that will help push the business ahead of the competition and ultimately leave you feeling much more fulfilled with your work.

Jeff Brickler

We know that it’s not just technology that contributes to the success of a business. Engineers play a significant role in engineering companies. They are a unique asset and unlocking their creativity and roadblocks drives innovation. Recent data suggests that engineers spend a third of their day on non-value-added tasks and are working on outdated information that can lead to mistakes. A change to a simple product can take nearly the entire workweek to update. Nearly all engineers agree they need the data faster. What’s the result of these challenges?

Engineers can’t leverage the true value of their systems. They spend too much time in transition and because they don’t have the necessary data, they have an unclear plan. Technology can be an answer to some of these challenges, but it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start. Dylan, can you share a little bit about your experience with how engineers are spending their time on non-value-added work and what were the obstacles to adopting new technologies?

Dylan Olson

Sure, Jeff. A lot of the non-value time for an engineer from my experience is spent on making sure they are working from the correct information and processing bills of materials into the system, whether they are new or having to revise existing bills and data management overall. A big obstacle I’ve faced is not having the necessary information in the CAD system. Developing the standards and training to understand what is needed for downstream functions will take care of this.

Let’s discuss intelligent integration connection. Why does intelligent integration matter? In my experience with intelligent integration, I found that it drove higher accountability to being certain the correct data is provided for all downstream functions. When starting the project of integrating CAD data, there were many properties that belonged to the CAD data that at the time did not, and having certain people pushing back on why it shouldn’t be.

Some of these were properties like material and finish, which are controlled by the engineer designing the product, and it always made me laugh a little when you’d start the conversation and their response would be, “Why should I have to assign that to my model?” We started by improving the—and creating new part templates with the correct properties already set up and creating validation rules around them for the workflow that integrated the data so you are unable to skip mandatory fields.

This really improved our data health and minimized extra work having to be done after an item was released out of engineering. CADTALK’s intelligent integration increases accuracy, reduces manual data entry, eliminates errors, and automates redundant tasks by automating the rules of your workflow with getting your CAD data transformed to Arena data.

Automating the generation of Arena items and BOMs allows you to spend more time doing the things that provide greater value to your organization. By eliminating the repetitive task of data entry, you have more time to spend on new product development, allowing you to utilize your skillset and expertise to drive greater job satisfaction.

Intelligent integration with CADTALK will get products to market faster, improve market share, improve competitive advantage in your industry, and achieve improved margins. Engineers benefit from being able to focus on more interesting work, work at the top of their training, find more time to be creative and innovative—all drives greater job satisfaction in minimizing employee turnover.

Jeff Brickler

Excellent, Dylan, thank you so much for those insights. Now we’ll take a look at the CADTALK integration with Arena. So CADTALK is partners with Arena and all the major CAD and PDM partners out there including SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Inventor, and Autodesk products including Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, Revit, and a number of others.

Today I’ll be showing the demonstration with SOLIDWORKS. So CADTALK works in lots of different ways, one of which is inside and inside the CAD system. So today you’re seeing the integration between SOLIDWORKS and Arena. The CADTALK platform has a direct plugin inside of SOLIDWORKS as you see here, the Arena plugin. I’m already logged in here, so today I’m going to show two assemblies.

First, this propeller shaft assembly. It’s a small assembly, just a couple of parts to show how CADTALK works with a basic assembly and then we’ll show what it looks like in Arena. We’re going to create new item records in Arena as well as builds and material. CADTALK also supports uploading thumbnails as well as attachments directly to Arena, minimizing the amount of time entering extra data in Arena after it’s already there. Once I finish that part, I will talk about how CADTALK is a configured product, how it’s configured for every customer needs directly inside CADTALK without the need for extensive customizations.

Then I will show a much larger assembly. This Sea-Doo scooter. The purpose of showing the Sea-Doo scooter is to show the power of CADTALK in terms of being able to automate the transformation of the CAD data into Arena for a multilevel and fully indented bill of material. So regardless if you have a small subassembly or you have a large finished good with hundreds of thousands of parts, CADTALK could handle that transformation in a matter of minutes.

Let’s begin with a small propeller shaft assembly. The first thing we would do is log into Arena, which I’ve already done. From here, it’s as simple as hitting one button, load my SOLIDWORKS file, selecting the particular configuration I want to use and saying, okay. So CADTALK immediately begins to process the data out of SOLIDWORKS and then communicates directly with Arena to ask do these parts exist? Are they new? CADTALK has a live, bidirectional connection with Arena to always know which parts are new and existing, and if there are any changes that need to be made they can be applied and merged into the existing working revision of the Arena bill of material. So on the screen you’ll see what we call a proposed bill of material. So CADTALK provides its interface for auditing and review. It allows the engineer or the person in charge of transforming the bill of material out of SOLIDWORKS into Arena, allows them to review the items, the bills of material, the files being attached. So you notice we support every aspect of the Arena bill of material. So I have the part numbers here, right, the categories, the files, the revisions names.

If you notice here I have access to all the information on the Arena part as well as the bill of material. So if I select a component, you will also see that CADTALK’s tracking whether this part exists in CAD or it exists in Arena. We’re also supporting all the other necessary fields in Arena, as you can see here, as you can turn on and off the fields that you want to see.

So as I mentioned, CADTALK could also attach the thumbnail directly pulled from SOLIDWORKS and any drawings or step files you want as well. So notice here I have access to attach files. I can attach files both automatically and I’ll talk about how CADTALK can do that with its rules engine, and you can also do that manually here in this interface. So lots of options in terms of how you want to handle that transformation, both in an automated way and the ability to do some additional manual adds right in the interface.

CADTALK is a full BOM editor. So if you need to add additional parts to this bill of material that don’t exist in your CAD model, that could be things like software or labels or other products that need to go onto the Arena BOM but aren’t in SOLIDWORKS. You can right-click in here, we have a full right-click menu to be able to add new BOM lines and then you can search directly from Arena to add those parts to the bill of material so that when the engineer is finished and it’s synchronized with the Arena, the bill of material is complete and then everything can flow downstream as it normally would in terms of doing the release process or the ECO process. All of that can be handled directly inside Arena. From here, once I’m ready to save, and I’m happy with what I see, I simply hit the save button. Then what CADTALK does is behind the scenes it will create all the items and then all the bills of material and attach them. I don’t know if you noticed, but the icons quickly turn from red to green.

So CADTALK color codes all of its icons and highlights all the fields that have been modified through CADTALK on the integration. So now once everything is green, that indicates that these parts already exist, excuse me, these parts are now in Arena. We’ve created them in the background and then everything can be released or processed through Arena now. So I’m going to just copy that part number here.

I’m going to switch over to my Arena environment and now that I’m in Arena, I can begin to search for the CADTALK part that it just created.

So I’m going to right-click in here, paste in that number that I created and its bill of material. Go ahead and find that. So notice that CADTALK returned that working revision for the bill of material. So notice that CADTALK created the item, right, and then also added the attach thumbnail directly in here so that you can see it and then set all the other properties right in here. You can see the item says the item creator. So any data that is updated in CADTALK, either through a rule in the integration or through the interface manually, is updated upon Save directly in here, including files. So if I click on the bill of material, you can see that CADTALK not only created the top-level item, but it also created the two subcomponents and then the quantities and all the other notes and information that you would need for the Arena bill of material.

Now I’m going to switch back to SOLIDWORKS and talk a little bit about how CADTALK is implemented, how it’s configured. As I mentioned that CADTALK has an intelligent integration and configuration tool directly inside the product, which makes it flexible. So right here, CADTALK has its intelligence and it allows me to write rules about how the transformation happens between SOLIDWORKS or SOLIDWORKS PDM or really any CAD system that we integrate with, like Autodesk Inventor or Vault and Arena. So notice I have the access to all the Arena properties here. I can write rules for things like description, units of measure, uploading a CAD image or files.

This goes beyond just simple one-to-one mapping. CADTALK can have complex or simple to complex rules for taking data from SOLIDWORKS and any property or any data field in SOLIDWORKS and putting that in any place in Arena, including any custom fields you might have so that you have all the data that you need in Arena for those downstream processes.

The integration with Arena is standard. All we need to do is point it to your workspace. The integration with SOLIDWORKS is standard. All you have to do is do the simple install. The work of implementing CADTALK is here and define that rule set and one of our implementation consultants like Dylan will be working with you in terms of how to implement CADTALK for your company.

Now I’m going to show that process again, but with a much larger assembly. So here you can see this Sea-Doo scooter. Inside the Sea-Doo scooter is that propeller shaft assembly that I showed originally that we created. So I haven’t made any changes to that propeller shaft assembly. It is already existing in Arena. We created it just a few moments ago. So I will show loading this Sea-Doo scooter. Then that same interface will show up with the screen with that fully indented bill of material and we will be able to see that the Sea-Doo scooter at the top and then all the subcomponents and subassemblies as well as that propeller shaft assembly.

The process works exactly the same. I’m ready to synchronize with Arena, I load my SOLIDWORKS file, I select the configuration I want if I am using my configurations, select. Okay. Again, as you can see, CADTALK begins to process that data, extract all the information from SOLIDWORKS. That includes all the, any configuration properties, custom properties, anything, all this information here on the left in the bill of material tree. CADTALK has access to all of that and is going to utilize that in its communication with Arena. Now, it’s always checking to see if parts are existing or new, and if any data that has been updated in Arena outside of CADTALK, CADTALK will retrieve that and be able to display it in this interface.

So now once that is finished being processed, you’ll see in the interface this is that proposed bill again, right? CADTALK is always showing a proposed bill so that you have the opportunity to save when you’re ready. So you’ll notice here that I have a mix of red icons, yellow highlighting, and then down below you can see there’s that green icon, that there’s that propeller shaft. So CADTALK, again, as I mentioned, always is checking with Arena to make sure that the, it’s getting the latest data so that it can merge in that information.

So I mentioned that red icons in this case are brand new parts that we’re going to create. Green icons indicate these are unchanged, right? The data in Arena and SOLIDWORKS match and then we have yellow highline that indicates these are the fields that we are updating with CADTALK, we are going to write those fields automatically to Arena. Just like it before, if I wanted to work at different levels and I wanted to add new components to this bill of material and search Arena and add labels or add software, I can do all that right in this interface.

Again, managing the entire bill of material directly from CADTALK so that the rest of the downstream processes can happen in Arena. Now from here, right, whenever I’m ready, I could simply hit the save button. And then what CADTALK will do is just as you saw before, it will go to Arena and create all of the items. So it does work from the sort of bottom up. So it’ll create all of the icons that you see in red. It’ll create all of those red parts, and then it will create the lower levels of bill of material, and then once it finishes, it will refresh automatically and turn green.

Great. So now you see just in a matter of seconds, all the icons went from red to green. Now that fully indented bill of material with everything that we attach, whether from properties to files to thumbnails, anything that you needed in Arena that came from SOLIDWORKS or that the engineer put, added manually, is going to be accessible in Arena. So from here, I can simply copy that particular part number again, switch over to Arena. I come up here and do the search, and then we’ll be able to show that top-level bill of material, right?

There’s the Sea-Doo scooter that I just created. Again, setting the category, the part number, the item name, all of that information right in here. And then I can check on the bill of material. And there you can see, I can see that fully indented bill, right? All the levels deep all the way down. So CADTALK in a matter of seconds went from SOLIDWORKS to Arena, right? Automated the transformation, all based upon the rules that fit my business and so that I know that CADTALK’s going to work for us and for each business because you’re able to configure it directly there inside the product.

That concludes the demonstration for today. Thank you very much. Today we only showed the integration with Arena and SOLIDWORKS, but CADTALK integrates with multiple CAD systems and facilitates communication between CAD and PDM and Arena.

We support, in addition to SOLIDWORKS, we support Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Vault, Autodesk AutoCAD and all of its flavors including AutoCAD Electrical, Architectural, and a number of others. Autodesk, Revit, PTC Creo, Siemens Solid Edge, EPLAN, Microsoft Excel, and Tekla.

You might be asking, well, what do I need for the integration? For Arena, you’ll need the API machine user license, a Windows machine, and in some circumstances you may need CAD software. Please see the relevant Arena data sheets.

Thank you for attending today’s event. To review today’s topics, we discussed the importance of intelligent integration like CADTALK to improve efficiencies and productivity. We saw how people are an equal part of the equation in digital transformation. Together, these two forces propel companies forward in their competitiveness and market share while keeping employee satisfaction high.

Sarah Devlin

And if you have any questions about that, feel free to contact your coach or anyone at Arena really, and we can help you. So I think with that, we are all done with today’s session and we appreciate you all coming and we will see you next time.