Minimize deadline stress – try Drew

Why do we only start working when the deadline is sight?

Why is there never enough time to do something right the first time, while there is always time to redo it later?

And why is a deadline so completely fixed, until it is completely let go?

If I knew, I would have written this post six months ago.

 

Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy amongst many other classics, said it well:

solidworks deadline drawing

Late nights and pizzas

Two years ago,  I was sent on a secondment at another company. They needed a lot of help, fast.

The company was running three different projects for complex one-off machines at the same time.

So there we were. Ten people from the company itself and about ten people that were either self-employed or scraped together from a bunch of other agencies. This happens more often, as the number of people that are self-employed in The Netherlands has doubled in the last ten years. Source (in Dutch).

10 employees + 10 temps = madness

The ratio might seems balanced at first sight, but it was bad. The permanent employees were completely overwhelmed by the sudden influx of temporary workers. Every temp needed their attention, while their boss expected them to get stuff done as well.

They basically had to choose between guiding the guys on secondment and getting some work done themselves. And make that choice about a hundred times a day. After a while, they tended to skew towards not guiding us and hoping for the best. I can hardly blame them.

We designed probably two thousand parts and assemblies that we subsequently had to make drawings for. All of used our own style for these drawings, because there was no time for real guidance.

Just work until it is done

We all worked long hours. We stayed late for as many evenings as we could for the last few weeks. The pizza was mediocre and the shoarma was just ok. But we made the deadline.

Until massive parts of the project had to be redone.

Most of the people that worked on the project were already sent home. We only left our 3D models, our 2D drawings and a bit of documentation. I think the company spent at least another six months finalizing this machine.

Drawing deadlines

As an engineer you are in one of two situations:

  1. You are responsible for (a part of) the design of the product or the machine. Others do manufacturing and assembly.
  2. You are working on both the design and final assembly.

When you are only working on the design, the delivery of the drawings is usually one of the last items on the to-do list. Nearly all time was spent on the design, now all you need to is document everything. Yay… The fact that you will never hear from this project again is also not really motivating.

It really helps when you are involved in the steps after the drawing phase as well. You know if you spend an hour more on your drawings, you will save three hours in manufacturing and assembly. But if the deadline for the drawings is considered fixed, what do you do?

  • Be up to 100% faster when making drawings
  • Never use a wrong template again
  • Create a new drawing with one click

Why we want to keep making drawings

Drawing are here to stay. I really believe that. Here’s why:

  • Drawings are accepted all around the world
  • Every engineer can read them
  • You can print them to paper or PDF and the drawing is forever free from the software that made it
  • Every person can carry them around and scribble their remarks on them
  • You can physically archive them

As a mechanical engineer myself, I have one more reason to add. Many engineers I’ve spoken to have observed a similar effect. And I think management should take note.

The quality of the drawing determines whether the project will be successful or not.

When you can focus on making a drawing, you detect mistakes before production is supposed to happen. You prevent problems before they have a chance to start snowballing.

But only if you can get in the zone.

If you can get there, you will be hyper focused and super effective. Everything you know about this project is in your head at this very moment. You see how all of the pieces fit together.  Not just physically, but also concerning stresses, manufacturing, cost price, coatings and about a dozen other important factors.

You somehow find mistakes that you didn’t notice in all of those weeks you spent rotating the 3D model of the assembly.

solidworks drawing macro

I fully advocate designing in 3D because it helps you visualize the outcome so clearly. There are way fewer surprises. But your brain works differently when you create a 2D drawing.

The best of both worlds

Our drawings went from cave paintings to papyrus, to paper, to AutoCAD and then to SOLIDWORKS. We got more efficient and more sophisticated at every step.

Modern 3D CAD allows us to visualize our designs. And SOLIDWORKS does a great job at helping us creating 2D views from a 3D part. You are sure a 2D view is correct, while with 2D CAD you could in theory show a front view of a car and a side view of a kitten…

isometric solidworks

I’m glad I have never designed a machine using only 2D CAD, let alone using a drawing board. I don’t regret never to have drawn an isometric view, even though it means I still can’t really draw properly.

The next step in efficiency

Drawings are alive and well. But something needs to happen to the process of making them:

  1. We need to lower the time it takes to make drawings
    • Most engineers I speak to find making drawings very important, yet they dread making them.
    • Our blog post on slow drawings is the most popular post we ever published. It has four times as many views as its closest competitor How to use virtual parts (and when to avoid them).
    • Model Based Definition is not there yet. It might be some day, yet I still think humans are bad at reading ‘3D drawings’.
  2. We need to be able to use a company style, without having to explain it to every single employee
    • When you work on a project with multiple people, everyone’s drawing style is different.
    • This problem gets even worse when you work with temporary employees more often.
    • When you change out a SOLIDWORKS template, old versions can linger on in people’s local settings for years.
  3. We need to have less mindless clicking
    • Why do we need to pick a template for every drawing?
    • And a paper size
    • Why do we need to add views when we add the same one over and over again?
    • If the computer already knows the answer to a question, it should not ask you to provide it.

So we set out to streamline the current drawing process.

Save time just before a deadline with Drew

I started CAD Booster because I wanted to create Drew. Now I can proudly show you what we made.

Drew helps you to start a new drawing with a single click. By capturing your personal preferences and those of your company and your customers, you are able to create a basic drawing in seconds. It will save you time and clicks in the weeks and days just before the deadline.

Drew does the repetitive work for you, like selecting a drawing template, a sheet format, a 3D view and a bunch of 2D views. It then fits all of these nicely on the sheet.

We then hand over the controls to you. You can add the information that requires specific application knowledge, like important dimensions, tolerances and relevant notes.

We admit that it is hard to fully automate the drawing process. Drew will get smarter and better over time though. Manually dragging views should not be necessary, adding tables and standard blocks manually should not be necessary. We’re working on it 🙂

Free trial

You can experience Drew for 14 days for free. No strings attached.

All features are available and we won’t add a watermark to your drawings, or any of that nonsense.

You don’t even need permission from your boss to try it, because we don’t need any creditcard data for the trial.

All info can be found here: https://cadbooster.com/drew/

  • Be up to 100% faster when making drawings
  • Never use a wrong template again
  • Create a new drawing with one click

Love it or hate it? Let us know!

We love to hear what you think about Drew. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we can’t grow without feedback. What did you think was cool? What feature would you like to see in the next update? I will personally reply to each email you send to drew@cadbooster.com.

Did you come across a bug or a button that does something unexpected? Get in touch and we’ll do whatever is necessary to help.

Bonus: weldment drawings

If you use the weldment toolbox is SOLIDWORKS a lot, you will love Drew. It takes three clicks to make this drawing:

Drew solidworks weldments

Notice the number of sheets at the bottom.

Yes, Drew can create a sheet per unique weldment body. Fully automatic!

Drew finds all weldment bodies, filters out the unique ones, adds a sheet with 3D and 2D views and positions them all on the sheet. You only need to add a few dimensions. For now.

Take Drew for a spin

You can try out Drew for free for 14 days:

https://cadbooster.com/drew/

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