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The Top 5 Onshape Features for Streamlining Design Data Management

1. Release Management & Approval Workflow

Release management and approval workflow capabilities in Onshape optimize efficiency and ensure faster time to market. The process of creating releases in file-based CAD comes with inordinate data challenges.
These challenges include locating, validating, organizing and archiving hundreds – and sometimes even thousands – of individual design files.
Even with an external PDM system in place, creating a release can take several days and slow down engineering work – or even bring it to a complete halt. Because of Onshape’s cloud-based architecture, there are no blockers or waiting for colleagues to “check in and check out” designs. Onshape users can continue working, even while a release candidate is created and being approved.
Onshape’s release process takes just minutes instead of hours, and it allows engineers to go back and reference all the contents of any release at any time. Users can create a proposed release for any combination of parts, assemblies, configurations and other assets as a single release.
Once a release is defined, a simple, intuitive task view enables designated approvers to explore release contents in the appropriate context and then quickly approve or reject without interfering with other current activity. Automatic notifications instantly let all users know when a new release is created, ensuring that all team members stay on the same page and continue progress.
Onshape’s release management is fully integrated into the modeling environment – a stark contrast to external PDM systems that add another layer of complexity. While they are modeling, Onshape users can always tell which parts and assemblies are released and what the latest release is. There are no strange file-naming conventions or calls to the PDM administrator required.

2. Real-Time Analytics

Onshape’s real-time analytics provide a comprehensive overview of projectdatawith easy-to-read tables and charts that enable users to review all design activity, review document access and manage projects and resources better.
The Activity Overview dashboard gives a comprehensive overview of data broken down by employees or external suppliers. It enables managers to see the total number of hours spent on each project per day and per user, which engineers are actively working on which projects, how many release candidates are pending approval, and which documents have been worked on the most.
From a process optimization perspective, these powerful insights give managers the ability to understand what is happening in the life of a project and to take appropriate action when it is most needed. This means that managers can now make more informed decisions based on data, not hunches or anecdotes. As a result, they can take steps to identify issues before they become problems, overcome bottlenecks, and allocate the appropriate resources to improve operational efficiency and accelerate time to market.

3. Comprehensive Edit History

As any designer or engineer will tell you, the creative process is seldom linear. The journey to a great design often requires experimentation, iteration, and multiple starts and stops.
With Onshape’s unlimited “undo” and “redo,” users can now easily move forward or backward to any stage in the editing process. Closely related to Branching and Merging, the Edit History feature provides a comprehensive list of all changes made to the design document.
The feature enhances team collaboration by letting members work together and make edits and revisions without fear of losing earlier work.
With clear visibility into all design changes, users can review, modify and undo edits as needed. The Edit History’s audit trail is unalterable and is never erased, offering a reassuring always-available documentation of the life of a design project. Users can now design more boldly, take more creative risks and try new ideas – all with the confidence that they can easily go back to an earlier version if needed.

4. Restore (Infinite Undo)

Related to Onshape’s comprehensive Edit History, the Restore feature enables users to essentially go back in time and undo any design change.

This ability to undo any error allows users to take creative risks with the confidence that they can be reversed later.
This ability to experiment without hesitation is an essential element of developing new design ideas. In contrast, users of legacy file-based CAD systems are accustomed to being limited to only a finite number of steps they can “undo.”
For many on-premise CAD systems, users are restricted to “undoing” only 5 or 10 steps backwards.
Needless to say, this limitation can discourage users from trying new things out of fear that they can’t reverse direction and will be left with a partially finished or broken
With the Restore function in Onshape, designers and engineers can work unconstrained, pushing the envelope on novel approaches with the confidence that they can return to any prior stage of the design anytime.

5. Compare

An important aspect of product design and data management is the challenge of understanding what changes have occurred in agiven design over time.
Onshape’s Compare feature allows usersto quickly and easily see these changes through both a written list and visual references. Users can compare changes between versions, workspaces or even momentsin the Edit History of a part or assembly. Users can see not only the changes in the graphics, but also the specific differences in the CAD features used between the two versions being compared.