Today, we’re delving into an interesting topic that has garnered quite a bit of attention in our community: “Do I need to store my CAD files in OpenBOM?” To cut a long story short, the answer is it depends, but let’s explore the details to understand the flexibility and universal accessibility OpenBOM offers.
The file storage question seems to be simple at the beginning and is actually trickier than you think. The folder and File paradigm was around for a few decades and made a huge impact on how engineering teams and industrial companies think about design (CAD) files stored everywhere. The default option for many companies for years was either to store data in Files/Folders or to move it to PDM systems. Recently cloud folder/file storage became more popular too.
At the same time, companies usually disconnect their engineering (WIP) data management systems that hold engineering (3D CAD and other design) data from the rest of the data. Therefore if you look into PLM and ERP systems outside of engineering, you will see only derivative formats (PDF, STEP, DXF, etc)
OpenBOM takes a fresh look into the problem of managing engineering files for three reasons: (1) we would like to offer all companies an easy way to store engineering files instead of doing it in local folders and files (this is why we introduced “Drive” PDM service; (2) OpenBOM data import services allows you to get data from CAD and other systems and store it in OpenBOM (Item, catalogs, BOMs, etc) for organizing digital thread and connecting pieces together. (3) We would like to connect multiple design systems (i.e. file storages) to OpenBOM to increase linkage capabilities. Let’s talk about it in more detail.
Files and Documents as Part of Design Digital Thread
To begin with, it’s important to understand the concept of a ‘Digital Thread’. This term refers to the communication framework that allows a connected data flow and an integrated view of an asset’s data throughout its lifecycle, across traditionally siloed functional perspectives. In the realm of design, every CAD file, technical document, or blueprint can be considered a part of this digital thread.
Storing these files and documents in one place not only aids in the organization but also facilitates easier data flow, making collaboration and decision-making more effective. However, the place of storage can vary based on your individual or organizational preferences and needs.
OpenBOM: A Universal Connector to Design Data
OpenBOM isn’t just a storage solution; it’s a data connector that can link to design data stored virtually anywhere. You can think of OpenBOM as a hub that brings together all your scattered design resources, creating a digital thread that weaves through them all.
For instance, you can keep your CAD files on your local drive, on a cloud-based solution, or even on multiple platforms – it’s all up to you. OpenBOM is designed to adapt to your needs and preferences, offering a flexible approach to data connectivity and management.
The Evolution of the Current Drive Service
Currently, OpenBOM operates with a Drive service, technically known as PDM Drive. However, OpenBOM isn’t stopping there. The platform is slated to undergo an expansion to support multiple design storage systems. This upgrade is part of OpenBOM’s commitment to offering greater flexibility and support for your design needs.
It’s already possible for OpenBOM to connect to CAD systems such as Fusion360 and Onshape, offering a seamless digital thread to these sources. As we move into the future, OpenBOM aims to extend this capability to more external file storage, broadening the landscape of connected design tools and storage solutions.
Stay tuned here for wider connectivity to design storage platforms such as Altium 365, Autodesk Platform Service (fka Forge), Onshape, and some others.
Also, to remind you a beta version of the universal file uploader service is capable to take virtual file/folder structure capture Bill of Information. See this video for more information.
Conclusion: Weaving Together Design Data with OpenBOM
To wrap it up, storing CAD files in OpenBOM is not a requirement, but rather an option that’s part of a broader strategy to connect various elements of design data. Whether your files are stored in-house, in the cloud, or across various platforms, OpenBOM provides the threads to weave them into a coherent, accessible, and manageable tapestry.
In the age of digital transformation, such flexibility is not only a luxury but a necessity. As you design and build the future, OpenBOM stands by you, offering a versatile solution that adapts to your evolving needs and facilitates smooth communication across the entire design process. Embrace the digital thread and allow OpenBOM to turn your disparate data into a connected masterpiece.
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