Wouldn’t it be great if product development teams could collaborate in real-time with a social networking-like tool? And what if it were connected to CAD, so that any member of the team could easily call out certain components on a drawing for discussion?

This idea occurred to me after learning about the SolidWorks package that implements something similar within their tool. But I’m not talking about a tool that allows you to add manufacturer specs to a computer-generated document creator. I’m talking about a tool that could be connected to CAD (not within), and allow for instant messaging and the instant sharing of all product development documents, including exploded assembly views, off-the-shelf 3D and 2D specifications, and editable notes or comments. Instant communication, real-time confirmation.

For example, how do I communicate a concept for a design to the manufacturing floor, and how do we then communicate what we’ve discovered to product management? Can we quickly close the loop and keep the product development process flowing?

The ability to send manufacturing AND product management my CAD drawing within this tool, with comments and questions, would be immensely helpful. I could get the fast feedback I need to make my work more efficient, and I wouldn’t have to deal with including attachments (or forgetting to) like you do with email and other sharing tools.

Sure, I could always communicate over email, but what if I needed an answer sooner rather than later? And what if I didn’t want a dozen emails in my inbox about this topic? Instead, everyone could comment in real-time, like in a forum discussion, and everyone could immediately see everyone else’s responses. Not to mention not having to stop the creative flow of the design process in order to create a formal document for review. Now, that would be nice and efficient.

How great would this tool be for knocking down the walls that typically separate work groups? This is a model for facilitating and encouraging collaboration and real innovation.

As far as I know, this internal tool does not exist. The Solidworks add-on is a great concept for the Solidworks world. It sure would be nice to expand on this idea and have a Twitter or Instagram-like tool for our product development teams. Tell me, does it exist yet?

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