Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CAD Standards Should be Vague

It is fairly standard these days for a company to have a CAD Standard. The point to a company CAD Standard is to ensure production quality and to maintain an efficient work flow. It keeps all construction documents in line and makes certain that everyone can work with everyone else’s files. If your CAD Standard fails at any of these items then it is failing you.

One key aspect to help ensure a CAD Standard works properly is to keep many of its aspects vague.  Locking down criteria to something exact can stifle production and increase bloat. Definition and specifics are great but they can create bottlenecks in your production process. If your template CAD file has several thousand layers (as an example) but yet you find you never have the right layer, then there is an issue that needs to be resolved.



One issue I run into that causes this is a tendency to “over do it”. Often times we (and our CAD users) want everything defined for us. We expect the CAD Standard to have everything pre-set so that all we have to do is use it. A little bit of that is great, but what happens with this type of mind set is that nobody knows what to do, when to do it, or even why, and our template files become quite large and confusing. They are full of bloat. Long lists of layers and blocks makes it difficult for users to find the right layer or make it difficult to know which block is which. It also creates a maintenance issue.  The more you have in your template file the more you have to keep updated.

The mantra of “Less is More” applies to a CAD Standard and template file. Pre-create less for the template and create a rule-of-thumb for your standards. Instead of creating an everlasting list of layers create a layer creation standard. Obviously you want to include the most commonly used layers in your template file, but make sure those layers are commonly used. Do not add obscure one-of layers to the template. Keep it clean and lean. By creating a layer creation standard as opposed to handing over a list of layers you establish a common standard way of doing things. Crating and assigning a specific layer for every specific possibility is insane and impossible to maintain. It is also impossible to teach as well as to apply. Keep your layers (and other standards) simple. Keep it vague.

Avoid assigning specific solutions for specific problems. Create solution paths instead. This enables every user to get the work done. It provides a method to get the layer (or whatever the need is) that applies to the specific situation. Keep the pathway criteria simple and small. Avoid too many options.

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