15 Replies Latest reply on Aug 11, 2009 1:56 PM by Jeff Hamilton

    Replacing Paper???

      This may be out there a bit, but just about everything else on Star Trek has happened (still working on the transporter & warp drive issues though). Has anyone looked into ditching plotters & paper, and instead gone straight to displays for all print distribution? For example, if I do a weldment detail I would typically print it out and then the print is hand delivered to a welder (internally or externally). Has anyone tried to just setup a wireless notebook or tablet PC (obviously "sturdy" needed for shop work), in the hopes that the paper can be removed from the process? I've run across machinists that simply want a file path & name since they only do CNC programming. Just wondering if the zooming/sectioning that can be done on a PC screen would make it worth it.
        • Replacing Paper???
          John Kreutzberger
          I mean no disrespect to machinists. However, my experience has been that once one of them plops down in front of a computer to pull some dimensions-they get bogged down looking at all sorts of things not really relevant so that they don't have to stand up again and make some chips. Much better off giving them a print to hang on the wall.

          Of course I'm pretty old school, but I have seen shops say they are going `paperless' and watched as they end up going back over time.
          • Replacing Paper???
            Matt Lombard
            I don't think the difference between paper and electronic display is as important as the difference between drawings and digital data. If a machinist has to read data from a drawing, paper or screen doesn't matter, it still slows them down and is another possible source of data entry error. If you can give them data to machine from directly, that's where the time and error saving comes in.
              • Replacing Paper???
                I guess I'm looking at it from the standpoint of clarity & detail.  For example, I've seen where a few companies are sticking with most 11 x 17 prints.  For most work and simple details, this is okay.  However when you start getting into large assemblies (I do special machine design), it starts getting really cumbersome to start sectioning/detailing all the details that get into these.  Add in the fact that as some of the workforce gets a little older, there becomes eyesight problems with small detail.  Sometimes I've had to adjust my detailing based on who the toolmakers are and how good their sight is.  (To me it's not a big deal doing so, there's a good chance we'll all be there at some point!)<br />With the electronic format - and I'm strictly talking about the ability to zoom small details and possibly twirl things around like in a 3D PDF - you give people the option to not only see what's going on a little more clearly, but also maybe provide the ability for measurement (tough to do with a paper print with say a difference of .008").<br />Just wondering if anyone has tried any pilot programs.  And yeah, John,  given the computer as a tool, I've seen plenty of people get "bogged down" with other stuff outside their specific job (e-mail, internet, computer maintenance, etc.).  But then theoretically we could do our designs with pencil and paper <G>.
                  • Replacing Paper???
                    Jeff Hamilton
                    We have started to use touch screens that display a PDF of the drawing and are begining to use a paperless distribution. I think it will be some time before drawings is done away with altogether though. There is just something about a paper drawing that you can visualize and catch mistakes easier. I really don't understand it, but have found it to be true.
                    Eventually we will be going to a more 3D look to the drawings when we start moving toward ASME 14.41. I don't see everything going drawing-less (model-only) until virtually all manufacturing and inspection goes digital (CNC), and that'll be quite some time.

                    But.... we can dream....
                      • Replacing Paper???
                        Mark Nielsen

                        Jeff Hamilton wrote:

                         

                        ...I think it will be some time before drawings is done away with altogether though. There is just something about a paper drawing that you can visualize and catch mistakes easier. I really don't understand it, but have found it to be true....

                        I totally agree. Our engineering department has only recently been kicking around the idea of getting rid of the paper, at least for our master copies. The problem is we really do find errors more frequently & efficiently when we print them for review.

                        • Replacing Paper???
                          Joel Schmidt

                          Jeff Hamilton wrote:

                           

                          There is just something about a paper drawing that you can visualize and catch mistakes easier. I really don't understand it, but have found it to be true.

                          I create a drawing, review it, then print it. On my way to the machine shop I notice that I missed a hole callout or something. It drives me nuts!

                          Our machine shop uses their computer to pull up prints of maintenance parts, which have drawing numbers stamped on them, to check dimensions before repairing. They can print them off, but often all they need is a dimension or two. This saves them a phone call and it saves me the nuissance of printing a drawing and walking it over.
                            • Replacing Paper???
                              There was a point in my computer design career where I noticed that my monitor at work was bigger than my TV at home. Picture a guy taking out a tape measure and measuring the diagonal of his monitor, then realizing it was time to upgrade his television.
                              Now, some of you may get at most a grin out of that little anecdote. Here's where the bigger grin/chuckle might come in. Get out your tape measure right now, or better yet put a 11 x 17 print and put it up to the monitor at work . Are you finding that what your looking at is actually being scaled down to be printed out?
                              Okay, I have a small confession to make. Times are tough, and my company can't spring for an 11 x 17 printer at the moment much less a plotter of any sort (especially keeping in mind the cost of ink surpassing gold sometimes!). When I finish a print, sometimes I have to take an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, put it on the screen, and see if there's enough detail for the guys in the shop to make it out. Suffice it to say, I make a lot of sheets and a lot of detail views!
                                • Replacing Paper???
                                  Kevin Hornocker
                                  a place i used to work had a computor at every work station out in the plant. it worked great. BUT be sure to make everything read only. we were using AutoCad and 1 computor wasnt set to read only and a worker made some 'improvements' to the cad file. but as far as beign able to zoom in, measure, and print it works great.
                        • Re: Replacing Paper???
                          Jeff Hamilton

                          Update to going paperless:

                           

                          We are currently in the middle stages of a paperless approval and distribution system. In the early stages, the markup and approval process was primarily hand written, then manually scanned into a pdf format. The biggest issues were marking up drawings and bills of material for changes and how to group documents from other file types (Word. Publisher, Mapics, etc) into a pdf format.

                          We found an answer to our problem with a product called Bluebeam. (Some of you may remember this was the original way Solidworks used to save drawings into a pdf format.) Drawings are saved as pdf directly from Solidworks. Released drawings in PDF format can be marked up using Bluebeam. Other documents can be printed out in pdf format using Bluebeam as well and a package put together for approvals. For the moment, approval signatures are still being done manually by a paper printout of the signature form. All documents are reviewed electronically and the final signature page scanned in to add to the package. (This will be replaced with digital signatures also using Bluebeam or Adobe once the full automated system is in place.)

                           

                          Drawings can be checked side by side on screen (dual monitors make this great) and highlighted off or marked up using Bluebeam. It also helps with clarity for some of us whos eyes aren't quite what they used to be. No wrestling paper drawings on the desk!

                           

                          The whole package is reviewed and released electronically cutting days off the issue process. Most of the plant uses touch screens to view drawings or drawings can be printed.

                           

                          So far its working pretty well, but not without resistance. (Change can be difficult) Best of all Bluebeam is about $150 per license vs Adobe Pro which is about $450 - $500. Note: This was also available through my Solidworks reseller.

                           

                          On my last post, I noted that for some reason a paper drawing was easier to read and find mistakes. I have since changed my mind.

                            • Re: Replacing Paper???

                              Just out of curiousity, what kind of business do you do?  We have a few people that don't have PC's on the shop floor, so I'm trying to figure out the most inexpensive way for them to do something like this.  Not that a laptop is very expensive, but we're a small place and any IT overhead for setting up/maintaining them could be an issue.  Bluebeam sounds like something to look into, though.  However I wonder if just something like E-drawings could just do the same thing as long as it fits into our organizational structure as far as file access, hyperlinks, etc.

                                • Re: Replacing Paper???
                                  Jeff Hamilton
                                  We manufacture compressors for air conditioning. Its a mass production environment. If you're just looking to view drawings, either edrawings or the free adobe reader would work, and you wouldn't need much to pull it off.  We use bluebeam to markup and approve drawings and documents from other formats. But if you do need to markup documents or use one format to view or approve other types of documents, Bluebeam is the way to go.
                              • Re: Replacing Paper???
                                David Matula

                                excel, pdf, and servers,

                                To give access to the drawings that were created by our engineering department once the final print was approved, and signed off by the engineer I would make a pdf of the file.  Then I would update the excel sheet that we used to keep up with all the drawings.  There was such info as to part number drawing number and description even columns as to what series of product that the part belonged to.  From that spread sheet I would hyperlink the drawing number so that when someone would click on it it would pull up the drawing for them.  Then it could be printed at the purchasing office, quality control office, and the machinist office.  It was up to the IT department to make sure that anyone could read the information, but not everyone could have the wright access to that information.  If there was a drawing that was under revision it would have to have the links broken or the pdf would have to be removed from the folder, or renamed so the link would not work.  Even with all of this in place, there were times that I would still have to get drawings and walk them over to the machine shop or get them to quality control.

                                  • Re: Replacing Paper???
                                    Devon Sowell

                                    When I worked for Hewlett Packard a few years ago, the R&D dept was paperless. No drawings were created, all dimensions were shown on the 3D model file. However, the machine shop was on site and all operators had a seat of SolidWorks and/or eDrawings. It was a very productive environment.

                                     

                                    Inspection was by assembly, if the R&D prototype parts fit together, they were considered good. Parts that didn't fit were reworked or tossed out and remodeled.

                                     

                                    Devon Sowell

                                    http://www.3-ddesignsolutions.com

                                  • Re: Replacing Paper???
                                    David Keith

                                    If you work for an "integrated company" where Engineering, machining, manufacturing and inspection are all done within the same company there is enough existing software to pull this off and go 100% paperless. It does require removing the physical and emotional walls between departments and a total team approach but I have seen it done successfully.

                                     

                                    If you farm any of the above out and use vendors and suppliers it makes it more dificult to go 100% paperless. You can achieve a certain level of paperless using software but you will have to "flavor" different data options for your many vendors or suppliers.

                                     

                                    As somebody already said SolidWorks is not quite there yet with dimensioning directly on a model per the new 3D standard. I have seen other CAD tools that have gotten closer to achieving this.

                                     

                                    Dave