What is this whitepaper about?
Microsoft SharePoint is a platform for enterprise content management and collaboration. SharePoint allows you to centrally store, manage, and access documents across the enterprise and to make them available and accessible to external partners like vendors, suppliers, and customers, etc.
This white paper describes the possibilities and limitations for SharePoint in managing the CAD files and integrating with CAD applications. It also explains how SharePoint can be used as an engineering document management and control solution to store, manage, and share design information across multi-disciplinary organizations and project teams.Read more
Chapter 1: Introduction
SharePoint is perfectly suited for text-based document formats such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF. However, due to the complexity of CAD files and models in their native formats and in some cases their sheer file size, an engineering document management solution solely relying on the capabilities of SharePoint will mean significant cutbacks for CAD-related features and functions.
Engineering companies use many different CAD applications, both for 2D and for 3D modelling, but they also use CAD applications for specific design purposes, like architectural, mechanical, or electrical design. All these applications use their own proprietary file formats to provide enhanced features for their end users. This turns managing these files and fully integrating with these applications into a complex issue.
Chapter 2: Engineering Document Management
Engineering companies are responsible for the development and production of products, but also for the design and construction of projects. They need to manage both their office documents and their design information. Design information is typically created by CAD engineers, but reviewed and used by other project stakeholders.
CAD engineers create drawings and detailed designs that are required to manufacture products and equipment, or to erect buildings, infrastructure, plants, and installations. When this design information is released, the people who actually manufacture the products or erect the buildings use it. Those may be planners, production employees, and construction workers. But purchasers also use the design information first for inquiry and then to buy necessary parts and materials.
Chapter 3: Managing CAD Files
For engineering document management, SharePoint must integrate with different CAD applications and CAD management systems to maintain the relationship between the CAD file itself (which remains in the CAD application) and its renditions that are published as revisions into a secure collaborative area.
The integrations must be light-weight from a CAD perspective and only generate common rendition formats, but also keep the metadata of the files consistent for providing bidirectional title block mapping. This will increase the flexibility and effectiveness of the overall solution and ensure that SharePoint as the document control and collaboration part of the solution can connect to more CAD applications managing their proprietary CAD structures most efficiently.
Chapter 4: Conclusion
Microsoft SharePoint is a powerful platform for enterprise content management and collaboration. Many project-driven engineering companies that intensively share and exchange documents with internal and external project partners are looking into SharePoint as a solution for engineering document management and control.
However, to provide a comprehensive solution, SharePoint needs to be able to connect with CAD applications and CAD management systems. Instead of attempting to manage CAD files inside of SharePoint, SharePoint needs to provide engineering document management and control functionality to handle CAD renditions published to deliverables.
Chapter 5: Cadac Organice Suite
Our Cadac Organice Suite offers an engineering document management environment in Microsoft SharePoint, optimized for projectdriven engineering industries. It allows companies to collaborate efficiently with external partners in a secured SharePoint extranet site.
Based on more than 25 years of experience, we have developed best practices that reflect the document management needs and working methods of companies and project teams in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction; Manufacturing; and Process, Power and Marine industries.