Written by Engineering.com

Keep it Moving: Remote Collaboration with 3D Models During the Coronavirus

Engineers are accustomed to in-person collaboration. Now, they’re video conferencing and emailing. Meetings with customers to build brand loyalty have ground to a halt. And keeping employees safe on the shop floor suddenly has a whole new meaning. Despite the changes, businesses must maintain continuity and focus their efforts in response to COVID-19. Today’s manufacturers have to stay productive and keep developing innovative, game-changing products. But how do you develop strong remote collaboration practices that spark creativity, connect disparate teams, and overcome the limitations of working at home?

Connecting Teams in Manufacturing Companies

One way manufacturing companies need to collaborate is through 3D product design data. Unfortunately, many companies struggle with the challenges inherent in remote work including VPN connections, home networks, and disparate teams. Imagine a conference call that is able to connect to 3D models without transferring files over your home network to start exploring data with fast performance and native security features.

Timeliness and understanding means now more than ever before. To answer the challenges of remote collaboration, companies need a performant, cloud-based solution that can be implemented quickly. One such company to offer a solution in this regard is Vertex.

Screenshot of the application showing cross sectioning.

The War Room of 2020

One primary way that users would use 3D collaboration software is optimizing how they facilitate remote design reviews with internal teams, customers, and suppliers. Prior to COVID-19, engineers were accustomed to in-person design reviews, day-long design reviews and direct person-to-person collaboration.

These days, design reviews are done through conference calls and screen sharing. Engineers have to log into a company VPN to access designs, hoping their home internet has enough bandwidth. Many engineers are without their high-end workstations necessary to access complex models. And without the ease of working with colleagues in-person, sharing ideas and staying collaborative becomes a much more manual and deliberate process.

Screenshot of application with comments

Vertex offers a single, cloud-based source to streamline communication. Rather than bouncing between different model versions, email chains, and chat threads, you can view and interact in real time with graphics-intensive 3D models and associated comments through a browser. Collaborative features allow teammates to communicate product design intent and solve cross-functional problems more effectively than showing a projected model and pointing to it with a laser pointer. Users control sharing and how collaborators interact with models. Because Vertex is cloud-based, no data is cached to a local machine, meaning users don’t have to worry about their own hardware capabilities to interact with complex 3D models. In fact, one Vertex user recently said:

“It's been amazing to have Vertex now that we're all remote with no central place to connect. Because of variable internet connections, doing design reviews in Vertex has allowed us to keep the work moving like normal.”

Cloud-Based Collaboration the New Normal

We don’t know how much longer our socially distanced and fractured work-at-home will last or what the “new normal” will look like. Despite the tragic losses of COVID-19, it has exposed the gaps in legacy, outdated processes. Manufacturers must now jump on the most modern, collaborative technologies. In doing so, they will end up with a truly optimized collaborative process that lets workers work wherever they are, together or apart, which will help them scale faster than ever.