Why do we only start working when the deadline is in 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:
Two years ago, I was sent on 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).
The ratio might seem 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.
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.
As an engineer you are in one of two situations:
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 available 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?
Drawings are here to stay. I really believe that. Here’s why:
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.
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.
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…
I’m glad I have never designed a machine using only 2D CAD, let alone using a drawing board. I don’t regret never having drawn an isometric view, even though it means I still can’t really draw properly.
Drawings are alive and well. But something needs to happen to the process of making them:
So we set out to streamline the current drawing process.
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 🙂
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 credit card data for the trial.
All info can be found here: https://cadbooster.com/drew/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
If you use the weldment toolbox is SOLIDWORKS a lot, you will love Drew. It takes three clicks to make this drawing:
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.