Zoom has become a verb. If someone says “I’ll zoom you” you know instantly what they mean. They want to connect with you for an online meeting using the wildly popular video conferencing software Zoom. Zoom today has more than 300 million participants using it every day and the count keeps increasing. It is now used for many types of online meetings such as court hearings, interviews, business conferences, school and college classes and even weddings. It is natural to expect that Zoom would be a good tool for engineering collaboration with remote teams. It is available for free, works off a browser and only needs a regular internet connection that is available all over the world. But can you really use Zoom for engineering? Let’s explore.
What is Engineering Collaboration
Engineering is not done in isolation. Usually, most mechanical and electromechanical products consist of many components that need to fit together for the system to work. Each component is designed by experts in their field. Besides, increasingly product development is done by teams spread all over the world. These teams need to talk to each other. They need to share the work in progress, see if the components meet the design requirements, and make sure they all come together for fit, form and function. So, it is natural for them to get together periodically and collaborate.
Engineering designs are made in high-end, complex CAD software that generates many gigabytes of data for each design. This information is highly proprietary and even within a company sending files back and forth between different departments is discouraged. This is even more so when working with outside suppliers commonly used to design and source components not manufactured in the product development company.
Engineering collaboration sessions consist of designers sharing their CAD models and other participants critiquing them based on their unique needs. Not only do the participants need to see the shared CAD models, but they also need to refer to non-CAD documents like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, PDF files etc. during the session.
Using Zoom for Engineering Collaboration
Zoom is a very simple product to use. The organizer initiates the meeting and emails invites to other participants. At the appointed time the organizer loads the CAD model he wants to discuss in his CAD system and shares his CAD screen using Zoom with the other Zoom participants. Now everyone can see the model. The organizer can zoom in to different parts of the model, show section views, rotate the model, take measurements etc. All of these screen views are seen by all the Zoom participants.
Zoom also comes with audio so the participants can talk and discuss what they are seeing on their screens. They can ask the organizer to show different part of the model and once the organizer complies, they can see the different views on their screens. Once the meeting is over the Zoom session is closed and the organizer’s screen is no longer shared.
Limitations of Zoom for Engineering Collaboration
While certainly one can’t beat Zoom for simplicity of use, it has serious limitations when it comes to real engineering collaboration.
In Zoom only the organizer has control over the screen being shared. If any of the other participants wants to see a different view, they have to request this from the organizer. They also cannot independently view the model, take measurements, rotate the model to focus on the areas of their specific interest. Each time they have to request the organizer to change the view. This becomes very cumbersome in a meeting with many participants.
Since the organizer has to load the CAD model in his CAD system before and during the session, a CAD system license is tied up for non-design work for the entire duration of the online meeting. Many times, these online meetings can go on for many hours with no one else in the company being able to use the expensive CAD system in the meanwhile.
The organizer also has to prepare the model for the collaboration session by loading it in his CAD system, sharing the screen etc. Doing this each time in an online meeting is a waste of the engineer’s time.
Even though Zoom can be used over low bandwidth lines, sometimes this doesn’t work as well for highly detailed CAD models. On low bandwidth connections the display refresh rate slows down and the information is rendered slowly on the participant’s screen. This makes it hard to provide real-time feedback to other participants.
EnSuite-Cloud ReVue is Better than Zoom for Engineering Collaboration
EnSuite-Cloud ReVue is a revolutionary secure real-time peer-to-peer CAD collaboration product that allows participants to conduct engineering design reviews using 3D multi-CAD data like CATIA, NX, SOLIDWORKS, Creo, NX... directly in the browser.
Hosts and reviewers do not have to store their proprietary data in any cloud server. At no point during, or at the end of the session, can participants download and save any data used in the collaboration.
Some of the advantages of EnSuite-Cloud ReVue over Zoom for engineering collaboration include:
- High data security using secure peer-to-peer technology without the need to upload, store or share proprietary 3D data
- True 3D experience for all participants ensuring very high-quality 3D rendering with zero loss of fidelity of viewable data
- Independent control of collaboration session without compromising intellectual property
- Ultra-low latency allowing for excellent response/refresh rates
- Low bandwidth usage allowing for easy sharing of large 3D CAD models
- Natural collaboration experience without any overhead for data or session preparation
Key Benefits of EnSuite-Cloud ReVue for Engineering Design
- Supports all major CAD systems including CATIA, NX, Creo, SOLIDWORKS, Inventor, and Solid Edge among others
- No CAD license is needed to collaborate with CAD models
- Can be accessed from an active CAD session using ReVue LiveLink where the CAD model needs to be edited and the results updated in real-time with participants in the collaboration session.
- Works off any browser with No software installation or browser extensions required
- Integrated conference call facility
- Real-time collaboration using 3D multi-CAD* data – parts & assemblies.
- Support for multiple documents in the same collaboration session
- Screen-sharing option for non-CAD documents for richer collaboration
Accessing EnSuite-Cloud ReVue
While Zoom has many uses, it is not the best choice for engineering collaboration. A SaaS tool like EnSuite-Cloud ReVue solves many of the issues experienced while using Zoom for engineering collaboration using online meetings.
The good news is that a free 15-day trial license of EnSuite-Cloud ReVue is available. Register today and experience the difference!