Graphical Product Configuration or CAD?

Facing more and more complex products, with an increasing number of variants and market requests of deeper customization, manufacturers of variant products are asking themselves:

Which tool is best for supporting the configuration of my products? Which tool is more efficient: A graphical product configurator or CAD software?

Do you also face such challenges?

In this article we will give an overview of the differences between the two system approaches and describe the advantages, to help you with a conscious choice.

Is it more efficient to configure with a CAD software?

The concept of CAD programs targeted product development and design tools. Beyond this function, if used to configure products, is a CAD software efficient?

When using a CAD system beside the product development, i.e. also to deliver drawings and bill of materials for orders and offers, there are considerable disadvantages:

  • you should not underestimate the initial investment
  • there are relevant limitations regarding shared work, offline scenarios and web platforms
  • when using a CAD system in the sale process, it becomes expensive and oversized

The advantages of a graphical product configurator

Graphical product configurators were created to display variant products and their construction rules. You can also create bill of materials and automatically derive data such as drawings, production lists and data for CNC machinery.

With an object oriented graphical configurator you can switch from an engineer-to-order to an assembly-to-order/configure-to-order process. You don’t need to start with a new project each time and plan all the construction phases: according to the single configuration you can join the standard modules in always different combinations.

 

Advantages of graphical product configuration

The advantages of these processes are clear:

  • You avoid information breaks: the know-how about the product, shared among different persons and departments, is centrally available
  • You don’t have processes and data duplication, everything is integrated and connected:
    • in particular, the graphical product configurator integrates bi-directionally with an ERP software
    • as a result, database maintenance is optimal both for construction rules as for machine connection: by working synchronously with the ERP, it is possible to import existing tables, rules and object dependencies
  • You simplify the configuration and design of customized orders for the users. Based on the tools for master data maintenance, modular and complex structure of products can be handled like standard modules
  • You free the engineering department from the sales support activities: also less qualified users groups can use graphical product configuration to prepare offers. So you are able to probably reduce CAD licenses.
  • You have flexible and scalable interfaces, which enable the integration with different systems, also CAD software.

Graphical product configurator or CAD?

So, if you want to configure a variant product is it always better to use a graphical product configurator?

Yes in 80% of the cases, because it is possible to set up and display the standard variants. In the remaining 20% of processes, special construction processes, it makes sense to use other tools, such as CAD systems.

best configuration solution: integration of graphical product configuration and CAD

The real question is not choosing between a graphical product configurator or a CAD software.

The real question is how to create a common model that integrates both of the systems. With the CAD software used for product development and special projects while the graphical product configurator is used for sales and order services.

Do you need more information about the advantages of a graphical product configurator for your company? Contact us.

Download the complete infographic with differences and advantages between graphical product configuration and CAD systems!