MBD Evangelist: Time to Rethink Model-Based Definition

Written by: Madhavi Ramesh

For traditional design teams that deliver product engineering information via 2D drawings, the switch to model-based definition (MBD) might sound risky.  The truth is, companies have aspired for years to place all that PMI data on their 3D models, but so many barriers got in the way, it simply wasn’t practical.

 Why shake up traditional design and manufacturing methods now?

 FA&D mechanical engineer, Dustin Whitlow, says it’s time to rethink those attitudes. Whitlow, an MBD evangelist, adds that many of the old barriers to MBD have now fallen away.  And for anyone willing to rethink their existing processes and workflows, significant returns from MBD await.

 Dustin Whitlow, MBD Evangelist

Dustin Whitlow


Read our whole conversation below: 

Ramesh:Can you tell us a bit about the current state of MBD?

Whitlow: Although model-based definition has been around for years it has certainly met its share of challenges along the way. Now, however, it seems that many of the hurdles that were once considered stumbling blocks for the adoption of MBD are quickly dissolving. It’s no secret that industry has long desired the MBD approach, but I believe we’re now at the point where MBD is beginning to become practical.

Ramesh: Why do you think MBD is gaining momentum now?

Whitlow: In a world that every day is becoming more and more connected, where critical information, such as product manufacturing information (PMI), is more easily embedded and communicated across platforms and systems, it makes perfect sense that MBD has a strong place in our future.

Ramesh:What would you consider the most compelling reasons for a company to adopt MBD?

Whitlow: The 3 key drivers for considering MBD are cost, clarity and quality.

  • Cost - I believe there’s cost reduction in the downstream functions, such as manufacturing, inspection, etc.
  • Clarity - MBD data allows for increased clarity while communicating with downstream consumers. Instead they can directly interact with the model and obtain the necessary information.
  • Quality- Quality improvements are seen when design intent is communicated clearly and unambiguously. There’s less of an opportunity to misinterpret drawings and recreate information.

Ramesh: What are the main challenges that you see with MBD?

Whitlow: One of the main challenges with MBD is that it requires us to sometimes reexamine our existing processes and workflows. This can be costly and often challenging in today’s competitive environment. However, long term I believe there’s an obvious ROI with its adoption.

With advances in technology we’re reaching the point where MBD will increasingly become the preferred way of design in the future. I also believe companies like PTC are answering the call to adapt their technologies in a way that allows end-users to more easily adopt a model-based approach throughout their designs.

Ramesh: If companies want to begin using MBD, where should they start?

Whitlow: Based on my experience, I’d suggest the following:

  • Tune in: Listen to conversations going on about MBD and MBE in the online communities, events, forums, etc.
  • Network: Network with someone who has been using MBD. Perhaps, network with people from companies that have implemented MBD/MBE and are successful.
  • Get buy-in: Involve the stakeholders early on to engage and educate them about how MBD adds value versus adding another layer of complexity for them.
  • Pilot project: Find a project/product that pilots the creation of MBD specs, follow through with all the business process using these 3D engineering specs, document, evaluate and assess the benefits of the new methodology compared to the traditional approach.
  • Lastly, one size does not fit all: Hence, understand your company’s objectives, limitations, etc., and develop an appropriate roadmap for implementing MBD.

Ready for the Switch? Let’s Check

Benefits to following MBD make implementation a no-brainer for many organizations. For example, model-based enterprises often notice fewer interpretation errors and fewer data inaccuracies.

PTC created a checklist that simplifies the MBD adoption process by giving you 5 major steps to take as you move from a design process based on 2D drawings to one that’s 3D-based. Download your copy of the checklist now.

 Download the MBD Checklist

Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

About the Author

Madhavi Ramesh

Madhavi Ramesh is the founder of Punditas, a product intelligence company. Read more of her blogs on Punditas.com