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Demystifying CAD vs PLM Data Migration: Stay Sharp Episode 31

In Episode 31 of Razorleaf’s Stay Sharp podcast, Demystifying CAD vs PLM Data Migration, hosts Jonathan Scott and Jen Ferello are joined by special guest Annalise Suzuki. As the Vice President of Technology and Engagement at Elysium, a company focused on 3D data operability, Annalise is an expert on “the devil in the details” of data migration. Jonathan, Jen, and Annalise discuss the differences between CAD and PLM migration, their similarities and differences, and some best practices for preparing and managing your data conversion project.

Defining CAD vs. PLM Data Migration

Annalise explains that a CAD migration is about moving content between CAD systems, typically off one system and onto a new one. Typical use cases for this involve systems that are no longer supported or multiple CAD formats being consolidated at a single company. According to Jonathan, migrating CAD data in a PLM context means something a little different, even though a PLM migration usually also includes the migration of CAD data.

He goes on to explain that the underlying reasons or use cases for doing a PLM migration are pretty similar to those for a CAD migration. But, from the PLM perspective, “we look at it as it’s in a container, not thinking about what’s inside that container. Let’s get that container from here to there.” Annalise expands the metaphor, noting that a CAD data migration is about the contents of a given container getting moved to a new or different one.

Requirements Drive Migration Details

A CAD migration often involves a conversion of file types as well as the move to a new system, and Annalise stresses how critical it is to understand what customers actually want to do with each type of file. The gut reaction from customers is usually “I need everything. I can’t lose anything,” she says. “But a lot of times, companies don’t need all the feature history for every model. It’s a lot of complication…. It’s really important to understand, what do I need these for? What are my high IP parts? What are the ones that are really actively going to go through changes?”

Jonathan compares the process to moving to a new house—or a new garage. “I should not move everything in the garage. But if I take a minute to think about what I really need, maybe I’ll bring the right stuff.” In terms of PLM data, he asks, “Do you need to change it? Do you need to edit it? Sometimes I do and I need to go back to the history…but sometimes I need to edit it going forward and maybe I bring the geometry and forget the history.” He also notes that for both PLM and CAD data migrations, how the data will ultimately be used is the key factor in determining exactly what gets migrated or converted—and how it happens.

Data Quality is Paramount

The success of both types of migrations also rests on the quality of the data being moved and/or converted, and both Annalise and Jonathan describe the need for some kind of pilot project to assess the type, scope, and quality of the data that will be involved—because understanding the data will help you predict and plan for the performance and process of the full migration. “You have to think about all of the elements that are going to be part of the total plan,” Jonathan says. “You need to rehearse. You need to find the warts in the data, maybe clean up some data. You have to find the problems in your process and whatever your plan was, because your plan won’t be perfect.”

Annalise agrees. “It’s really important to take each kind of scenario, break it up, and then…run a benchmark or even just a proof of concept to start from that conversion aspect,” she explains. “You have to test out that entire thing. That really is critical. I think a lot of companies try to get their plan together before they do that and it’s almost not really helpful.”

Get Users Involved

Annalise and Jonathan also agree that, regardless of the type of migration, one necessity is getting users involved in the project early. Jonathan laments projects that took lots of time and money to implement, but failed because engineers felt “it wasn’t quite right” at the end. Annalise has similar stories: “If they understand what’s behind it, and they can bring that expertise in early, it helps the success overall because they feel valued as part of the project.” She adds, “That’s something we learn and definitely advocate to our customers to try and bring awareness, encourage participation, and get those experts as part of the project where they can help.”

Learn More About CAD and PLM Data Migrations

The full podcast episode offers many more details on the planning necessary for successful migration projects, how both types of migrations validate and ensure data quality post-migration, and different real-world scenarios that require comprehensive migration strategies.

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