When Manufacturers Don’t Make the Most of 3D CAD, We All Lose




When you started using your smart phone, did you explore its full capabilities? Did you learn the best way to send a group text or share a photo? If you’re like most people, you figured out the main things and never went much further.

The funny thing is that the company that makes your smart phone may not operate much differently. Even in the world of consumer electronics, designers start using a 3D CAD package, learn the basics, and never take it much further. We’re all busy, right?

Toshimasa Okano, President and Representative Director of Fujitsu Peripherals didn’t buy it.

“It is said that most people use only around 10% of the features in the smart phones they carry around,” says Mr. Okano. “Thinking along the same lines, I began to wonder whether or not our technicians had actually learned to use 100% of the 3D CAD features.”

Sure, phones were getting designed, but Mr. Okano wanted to deepen his team’s understanding of the software’s capabilities. He guessed it would take more than basic, getting-started training.

So, his company started talking to PTC University to figure out how to get more from the software they use every day.

Setting Goals

Working together, Fujitsu Peripherals and PTC University defined what exactly they wanted the design team to accomplish:

  • Mastery of 3D CAD as a design tool.
  • Definition of best practices for 3D design work.
  • Creation of standard 3D design rules and techniques.

Admirable goals for any product development team. Now it seemed all that was left to do was to schedule some advanced training courses and start signing those certificates of accomplishment.

Well, not actually. First PTC University wanted to take a closer look at the skills the team already had.

Finding the Starting Point

Running an assessment was a good call. Because the division employs a large number of excellent designers with years of experience working with PTC Creo, Fujitsu Peripherals team expected above average assessment scores. But the actual results shocked the organization. The average scores fell below the worldwide average.

Closer examination revealed that while the designers had above average practical skills, their knowledge scores were low. They could accurately create 3D models, but not efficiently. They had not mastered the tools. Mr. Okano’s hunch was right.

Short-Term Skills Training

The next step was short-term intensive classes, which took place in parallel with normal work to address the baseline shortcomings. Over two weeks, designers learned new skills and filled in knowledge gaps, especially in product areas that they support but don’t frequently work on.

After a reassessment, scores improved. But designers continued to perform some tasks in ways they were used to, rather than changing to a more efficient method. Does this sound familiar?

Mr. Hidenobu Fujioka from the Development Division says, “Even though it was faster to use the ribbon, they continued to work in ways they had become accustomed to in older versions, thinking that since they were accustomed to a certain way, it was ‘faster.’”

Targeted Training + Process Consulting

To truly optimize operational efficiency, a PTC consultant working onsite engaged with product group leaders to identify the best design methods for various products. The consultant freely interacted with the designers in their work environment and responded to their concerns.

Next, the consultant extracted the CAD features that contributed the most to each of the product categories and developed workshops. Team members attended the workshops to learn the techniques and to identify additional features they wanted to learn.

Business improvements from process reforms through training and consulting.

Results and Next Steps

Training was difficult but successful. “Initially, there were some complaints, since these were people busy with work who had to undergo on-the-job training,” says Mr. Fujioka. “But by combining their work with their studies, team members experienced first-hand how they were ‘able to design better things,’ leading to a major change in awareness at the job sites.”

Measurable results include a 40% increase in operational efficiency at the Development Department, which surprised even Mr. Okano. And customers have taken notice of the designer’s enhanced skills, too.

Next steps include shortening design times and improving quality through an eLearning program that reinforces the training. Fujitsu Peripherals will also continue to perfect design rules. Along the way, PTC University will be there to provide advice and support.

“In order to promote craftsmanship with a global perspective, we are considering approaches we have never used before that will link our enhanced 3D CAD skills to improvements in design expertise,” says Mr. Okano. “To that end, we welcome the assistance that PTC University can provide.”

Whether you’re looking for specific training courses, ways to improve the proficiency of experienced users, or a personalized corporate learning program that meets your training schedule and budget requirements, learn how PTC University can help.