A Digital Workflow
This is a guest post by Chris Vaught of the excellent Flatterfiles.com, go check it out – you’ll thank me!
Enabling a digital workflow seems to be a regular discussion topic from the major CAD companies.
To their credit, they have made huge progress when it comes to creating drawings. I would classify both traditional PDM tools, as well as cloud based tools such as Autodesk 360 and GrabCAD Workbench, as excellent ways to enable an integrated digital workflow for drawing creation. But what about drawing access?
No matter how you create the drawing, someone will eventually need to access and use your drawings. Typically, this is someone that is pressed for time, doesn’t typically use technical software and just wants the drawing as quickly and easily as possible.
While these existing tools are great at enabling a digital workflow for creation, they fall short of what would be ideal when someone just needs to access the drawing. They are designed for CAD users, not managers, shop foreman, supervisors, construction workers or outside vendors.
To solve this issue, we have created the product Flatter Files. Flatter Files is a cloud based flat file cabinet for your important drawings and documents.
It is designed from the ground up to be 100% focused on providing the best experience for accessing your drawings by the people that need to use your drawings from anywhere with an internet connection.
It is not a replacement for your creation process, instead it is designed to work with whatever creation process you use whether it is a traditional PDM system, a cloud based file syncing service, or just files organized on your network drive.
So how does Flatter Files enable a fully digital workflow? It does so with 3 major features.
The first is that Flatter Files includes an Uploader application that automates the process of publishing your drawings to Flatter Files. The Uploader app auto generates a PDF and uploads it to Flatter Files whenever the drawing is ready to be released and then keeps it up to date with the latest version as you create revisions. Think of the Uploader app as your automated digital printer.
The second way it enables a digital workflow is by providing a central searchable access point to your drawings for EVERYONE in your company. That’s right, you can give access to your Flatter Files account to an unlimited number of viewers. This means that even if someone only needs access once a year, they can still be given access since there is no additional cost.
This greatly improves the digital workflow experience since no one should have to ask where to find a drawing.
The third major feature that enables a digital workflow is that Flatter Files includes the ability for any of your viewers to easily mark up drawings on their mobile devices.
See a mistake in the field or on the shop floor? Just mark up the drawing on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device using the Flatter Files mobile application and the appropriate people within your company will receive an email notification to review the suggested change.
This provides an immediate feedback loop so there are no more excuses for mistakes to continue to show up on a drawing.
Many tools exist to make the creation process as efficient as possible. Flatter Files exists to make accessing and using your drawings as easy as possible.
Once implemented, no one should ever ask where to find a drawing. They just login to Flatter Files and the latest version of the drawing they need will be there. Flatter Files includes many more features than described in this post.