Though many people may be tackling projects from the comfort of their homes, staying connected is more important than ever. Staying productive may seem especially daunting for technical team members — namely machinists and engineers — who work in tandem on multiple products. Thankfully, cloud applications supercharge collaboration while making many on-site resources available from afar. Keep these tips in mind to conquer team milestones and stay abreast of the evolving information.
Access Your Data Online
Third-party applications offer cloud storage with remote access. Take Fusion 360 and AutoCAD as two examples, where teams can store project files (DWG, STEP, Inventor, F3D, Toolpaths, etc.) for later reference. Every design iteration your peers make is immediately accessible no matter where you are. Any annotations and comments are also shareable — no conference table or whiteboard required, keeping teams agile, and ready to respond to customer requests. It’s especially essential that engineers accurately relay feedback and instructions to their machinists to keep things cohesive. Cloud sharing streamlines that process.
Odds are organizations have an online repository as well. Documentation on processes, budgets, and other crucial information is commonly available on corporate networks — or via access key. Connect via VPN and login to view these files, as they may impact your design priorities.
For Machinists: Program and Optimize Your Workflow from Home
Just because you can’t physically operate your machinery doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. Sound machining relies on software as much as it does hardware. Fusion 360 isn’t just for engineers — it offers the following cam capabilities:
FeatureCAM unlocks automation for CNC programming and can influence your CAM strategy. The software’s goal is to speed up parts manufacturing while solidifying processes. Repeatability, or the ability to produce consistent results, is the hallmark of quality machining. FeatureCAM offers a unified program for all CNC applications, providing tools for 3-axis mills, 5-axis mills, lathes, turn-mill centers, and wire EDMs. Everything is visual, emulating the real-world results you would expect on-site.
Because these tools are bundled with Fusion 360, instant collaboration is right at your fingertips. Share designs, drawings, and instructions easily between members. It’s easy to stay connected from a distance, even when your job function is hands-on.
For Engineers: Team-Based Design, Modeling, and Testing
The field of engineering has remarkable breadth, and cloud CAD/CAM/CAE/PCB tools make a substantial difference when teams are physically separated. Whether digital prototyping, generative testing, or 3D animation are your flavor, there are numerous collaborative outlets available. We’ve mentioned tools like AutoCAD and Fusion360, though other options exist for creative engineers — supported by Fusion 360 Team, which provides CAD-based cloud storage for small to mid-sized teams. Multiplatform apps allow you to access critical resources from multiple devices, anytime.
Cloud access is available for the following areas:
- Electrical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- 2D and 3D animation
- Industrial design
- Drawing and Modeling
- Lifecycle management
There is a veritable buffet of functional areas and workspaces to choose from. These tools don’t restrict you to in-person communication when it’s time to brainstorm.
Share Your Progress
It’s easy to get work done, but staying in the loop becomes even more straightforward with Vault. The application provides product data management (PDM) capabilities to teams and individuals. This approach and others like it provide a centralized data source, keeping you and project stakeholders on the same page. Anyone with access can edit and upload resources. Vault interfaces with other Autodesk software, while granting privileges to internal and external agents.
Since everyone is not colocated right now, these programs help immensely by connecting individuals from multiple worksites. This occurs at the basic, team, or enterprise level. Not only can you stay connected, but your collaborators can too. Connecting Vault with Fusion 360 (and Fusion 360 Team) allows you to put your progress on display. It’s easy to avoid feeling siloed with so much open communication between departments.
Remote Doesn’t Equal Removed
While remote work is uncharted territory for many engineers and machinists, new norms are rapidly emerging. The modern software we have available is flattening the learning curve immensely. Resources and the people behind them are more connected than ever before — creating an environment primed for collaboration. As always, never discount the value of calls and video conferencing when information is needed ASAP.
When you can’t reach someone directly, cloud resources are ready for consumption. Your computer is the gateway to collaboration. That’s not waning anytime soon, even though we are now miles apart.
Check out Fusion 360, the best cloud-based CAD, CAM, Collaboration, and PCB development platform on the market.