The Critical Gap: Why CAD Release Isn’t the End of Product Life Cycle?

Oleg Shilovitsky
Oleg Shilovitsky
20 June, 2024 | 3 min for reading
The Critical Gap: Why CAD Release Isn’t the End of Product Life Cycle?

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive market, the complexity of products impacts every aspect of their development and lifecycle management. Modern products are often intricate systems that encompass mechanical components, electronics, and software, requiring multidisciplinary expertise and coordination. 

Furthermore, these products are developed by teams spread across different geographical locations and time zones, adding another layer of complexity to the process. The supply chain itself has become a sophisticated network that must be managed to ensure timely and cost-effective production. 

This growing complexity necessitates a more comprehensive approach to product lifecycle management (PLM) than simply releasing a CAD assembly.

A Bit of History

Historically, the role of engineers was primarily focused on creating detailed drawings, which were then handed over to the manufacturing department. The throw “over-the-wall”  approach worked well when products were simpler and the engineering process was more straightforward. 

However, the landscape has drastically changed. Today, there is a critical need to involve manufacturing and the supply chain earlier in the product development process. Mechanical and electronic designers must coordinate closely, as changes in mechanical parts can significantly impact PCB components, and vice versa. Similarly, supply chain considerations can affect the design choices of both mechanical and electronic components. This interconnectedness of disciplines demands a more integrated approach to product development.

Growing Complexity Demands More Collaboration

As product complexity increases, so does the need for collaboration across all teams involved in the product life cycle. To effectively manage this complexity, there must be a centralized location where all stakeholders can access and review up-to-date information. This is where OpenBOM comes into play. OpenBOM enables teams to pull information from various sources, including MCAD/PDM systems, PCB design tools, supply chain data, and cost analysis platforms, into a unified “workspace.”

This centralized workspace serves as a “single source of truth,” providing the most current representation of the design. Teams can collaboratively review and approve this information, ensuring that all items, both CAD and non-CAD, are accounted for before the final BOM release. This collaborative process not only streamlines the approval process but also ensures that everyone is on the same page—or as we like to say, “on the same BOM.”

The picture below shows you the CAD version process and a corresponding single source of truth presented as a collaborative space with Item/BOM revision info. 

Item Connection to Design Systems and CAD Release

While it remains crucial to release designs independently—such as MCAD assembly releases—these tasks are not redundant. OpenBOM tracks the CAD revisions for all components, enabling the integration of all these pieces into a cohesive whole. By maintaining a connection to the original design systems, OpenBOM ensures that any updates or changes are reflected across the entire lifecycle, facilitating coordinated reviews and approvals from all teams involved.

To support this process, OpenBOM has “CAD Revision” mechanism – an attribute that automatically connects an Item to a specific CAD revision. Check more about it in the following article – Manage Revisions in CAD and BOMs (with SOLIDWORKS demo video)


Releasing a CAD assembly in your preferred CAD system is merely the first step in a comprehensive product lifecycle management process. To achieve successful product development, it is essential to connect all design elements, conduct coordinated reviews with all relevant teams, incorporate non-CAD items, and ultimately push toward a unified release. OpenBOM provides the tools and capabilities to manage this complexity, enabling seamless collaboration and efficient lifecycle management.

Check this out—REGISTER FOR FREE and try OpenBOM for 14 days.Best,

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