Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. 3D CAD Implementation 1: Management support, fitting it into your product development process, cultural change and staff buy-in

3D CAD Implementation 1:

Management support, fitting it into your product development process, cultural change and staff buy-in

OK, so let’s get down to the business of 3D CAD implementation – what are the key considerations? How do you roll it out and reap 3D CAD benefits for your business quickly and conveniently? What do the best engineers and manufacturers do?

Well here are 9 implementation tips to make it happen:

  1. Leadership and Senior Management Support
  2. Organise and plan how 3D CAD will fit into your development process
  3. Cultural Change: Get your employees believing in the benefits of 3D CAD
  4. Draw on CAD Supplier Expertise
  5. IT Preparation: Hardware, Networks and System Requirements
  6. Comprehensive Training to Embed CAD Skills
  7. Pilot Projects: Rapid Productivity Gains and Return on Investment
  8. Rolling out CAD more broadly throughout the business
  9. Implementation Review


These points will be reviewed in a bit more detail below. Following this the implementation challenges commonly faced by engineering businesses are considered, together with recommendations to overcome them.

The Importance of Tailoring the Information

With all these points above and the further explanations below, remember the key is to tailor the best bits most likely to suit your business. Innovate and make variations on some of these themes, if this works for you. Alternatively, skip over parts likely to be overkill for your setup.  As ever, use these ideas to structure and guide smooth and successful CAD implementation where you work.

Right, let’s take a look at the 9 point plan…

1. Leadership and Senior Management Support

As mentioned earlier in this section, successful 3D CAD implementation needs strong senior management commitment and support. Employees need to know this is an initiative backed from the top. Importantly it is also one aligned to business objectives. 3D CAD implementation should be strongly led by an individual empowered to make things happen. They should be backed by a small team interested in realising the benefits for the business. Senior managers should insist, encourage and reward the take-up and adoption of 3D CAD. They should help create a supportive atmosphere.

2. Organise and Plan how 3D CAD will fit into your development process

Many of the features on this list will form part of your plan. Carefully consider how specifically you see 3D CAD fitting into the way you work. Consider a range of questions posed in an earlier section. Here’s a reminder: 

  • When do you need it up and running by?
  • How many CAD seats?
  • Who will use the CAD software and for what specific purpose?
  • Are there certain CAD features that are particularly useful for your business?
  • Where will you actually use CAD? Where are your workstations located and is the environment conducive to CAD work? What about laptops and remote working?

Additionally, see the ‘Integrating CAD Engineering into the Product Development Process’ section, for some useful advice to plan the best way of dovetailing 3D CAD into your existing ways of working.

3. Cultural Change: Get your Employees believing in the benefits of 3D CAD

  • Before the change takes place, get the message out there, explaining change is on its way.

  • Use meetings to explain key aspects of what you are planning. Make CAD implementation an agenda item where people can ask questions, as well as receive information about the events soon to occur.

  • Focus on ‘what’ is likely to happen and ‘when’ key events are likely to take place.

  • The message should focus on the benefits people can expect. Tailor the message for the audience; for example manufacturing advantages for production staff.

  • Get people talking about 3D CAD and asking questions. Many won’t realise how it could improve their specific roles until examples are pointed out. See the ‘Significant Benefits of 3D CAD and Digital Engineering’ section for examples to get them talking.

  • To facilitate discussions, set up internal demo sessions, perhaps inviting people to review and comment on one of your own products modelled in 3D CAD. Get employees to have a go – rotate models, explode assemblies, review the parts they work on or assemblies they are familiar with.

  • Use noticeboards to let people know about the 3D CAD implementation plan. Use print outs and graphics to grab attention.

  • Request feedback and encourage people to ask questions.

  • Use the senior management backing for 3D CAD implementation, to really get the message across. Emails from bosses, together with verbal updates from heads of departments - they all help emphasise this is an initiative backed from the top.

CAD implementation

Next... 3D CAD Implementation 2: Draw heavily on your CAD supplier’s expertise, prepare your IT system requirements

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