• The Digital Transformation Train is Leaving the Station, and We Should All Be on Board

    2020 has taught me a number of things, including presumably how indoor cats feel, that March and June are the same thing if you don’t go outside, and that if Godzilla were to stumble onto the shores of Tokyo tomorrow,  everyone would probably collectively shrug and go back to getting their coffee. While you’re probably thinking that none of these are very important lessons, I’d point out that a few of them are very strong evidence that today more than ever, is essential for businesses to better use available tools to automate processes, get employees connected, and develop strong digital connections with their customers. I’m not going to tell you which ones. Instead, we’ll jump to the point: the train probably left the station in March, but it’s not too late to get a ticket.

    If you’re not already on board, you’re missing out. Notably, this year has shown a prevalent increase in the “work from anywhere” culture. Covid and WFH are now BFFs, meaning this is a necessity for multiple reasons:  ensuring the safety of your employees, the risk of an outbreak impacting productivity in the workplace, and the added caveat that with the increase in WFH at many businesses means that your employees may see greener pastures elsewhere if you aren’t offering it.

    This doesn’t mean that all digital transformation is created equal. Adopting Microsoft Teams and crossing your fingers is not an effective strategy for adapting to our new reality. Many workplaces have highly involved processes that require generous attention to detail and incredibly effective lines of communication.  So, for a manufacturing business, how do you ensure that this forced digital revolution doesn’t impact your team’s ability to be productive?

    Luckily, the revolution is no longer in its infancy, Covid has only helped it along. Many solutions already exist and for a manufacturer you can easily improve communication and visibility among your teams, automate workflows, and interface with your customer base. Autodesk Vault and Fusion Lifecycle are two such tools that, if not already in your workflow, should be up for consideration immediately.

    What is Vault and Fusion Lifecycle (FLC)? These two products are the rails that the digital transformation train rides on. Fusion Lifecycle is a product lifecycle management tool, and Vault is data management tool. Together, these products rule over your manufacturing data like Facebook does over the data of…well, everyone. With a single source of information, you can control and automate state change and change management tools, ensure a smooth process from project inception to engineering and manufacture easily than ever before.

    The next tool you are most likely missing out on, is a sales tool to bring your CAD data to the fingertips of your sales reps and customers. Let your customers buy their tickets to ride. While some businesses may have leveraged Autodesk Configurator 360 in the past, moving forward, this tool will no longer be supported. This is why, we at SolidCAD, have developed Variant.  Variant is a web based iLogic configurator tool that can be used to easily convert Inventor iLogic assemblies into a powerful sales tool. Suddenly, that model that only engineering teams have seen becomes an interface that your customers can use to make selections, verify their choices, instantly obtain professional quotes, and order your products. If you still have massive catalogues with complex part numbers and PDF order sheets that often result in their own special type of chaos and deficiencies in your sales to manufacturing workflows, your children are probably already making fun of you on TikTok.

    Now, the buck doesn’t just stop here. Its no longer worth it to simply deploy these tools, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and head home to binge a whole season of the Kardashians on your streaming platform of choice. A train that isn’t well designed likely won’t stay on the tracks for long. Variant, FLC and Vault are all highly customizable and can be fully integrated. A comprehensive digital transformation strategy includes ensuring that these products work perfectly in sync with the bespoke workflows and processes that your business wishes it could achieve, and in a way reduces manual data transfer and intervention wherever possible. Imagine freeing up the bandwidth your sales reps, engineers and production managers expend moving around all this data? Communicating these changes, reducing the possibility for human error and not to mention the likelihood of winning more bids as a direct result of the reduced sales cycle times are just a fraction of the possibilities.

    Not convinced? If your business isn’t already a passenger or ready to buy a ticket, take a moment to consider this: it’s highly improbable that you personally haven’t already benefitted from another business transforming a product, service, or industry. Whether you’ve been streaming Netflix to pass the time, connecting with family over Zoom, or watching your children use the internet to go to school, our lives have never been more touched by digital transformation.  If you have, then there is absolutely no doubt that the same applies to those who work for you or buy from you. In a time where leaving our homes can suddenly have a massive impact on our lives and those of our loved ones, every business needs to consider how they can embrace this era and bring customers and employees closer together while letting them remain well apart.

    All aboard!




    Company Info

    Jenoptik is an integrated photonics group that operates globally. Jenoptik divides its activities into three segments: Optics & Life Science, Mobility and Defence & Civil Systems. These segments are, in turn, composed of five divisions: Optical Systems, Healthcare & Industry, Automotive, Traffic Solutions and Defence & Civil Systems.

    Jenoptik services customers primarily in the semiconductor equipment, automotive and automotive supplier, medical technology, defence and security as well as the aviation industries; offering services in strategic corporate development and innovation management.

    Jenoptik is concentrated on a variety of different industries, however a portion of their business is dedicated to the automotive industry through developing and constructing industrial measuring technology that can be used to monitor and optimize production processes.

    * Photo provided courtesy of Jenoptik Automotive North America


    “When we were transitioning our software to Autodesk Inventor, SolidCAD handled the implementation of Vault Professional. After an extremely smooth launch of our system along with informative training, we had a unique request for the SolidCAD team to write a custom program that would automate some of our processes. The staff that we worked with were very knowledgeable and their use of web based communication software for meetings and testing was a huge convenience. The results we received from SolidCAD were always above expectations. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for technical expertise for their software products.”
    Ronald Buchholz, Mechanical Engineer Leader, Jenoptik Automotive

    Project Profile


    As a leading manufacturer and system supplier, Jenoptik depends on exporting a parts list to Excel which is used internally by both the purchasing and manufacturing departments of the company. Prior to working with SolidCAD, Jenoptik identified that the original export tool available in Inventor would export Excel files that required a significant amount of manual editing and formatting by an employee. Editing often included: (a) moving all components of subassembly to their own tab, (b) sorting all components on a tab by their part number, and (c) adding project information header to all tabs. On average, formatting this data would take anywhere between four to eight hours for each assembly file which was both time consuming and subject to errors.


    After identifying the issue, Jenoptik turned to SolidCAD in need of a solution that would streamline their process. SolidCAD provided Jenoptik with a workflow assessment that would investigate their current process, provide a detailed analysis and consult them with a solution that would automate the process and easily export Excel files with no manual editing.

    After a full assessment of the issue, SolidCAD’s development team customized Jenoptik’s Inventor software with an add-in to automatically generate a complete Excel parts list of their model assemblies, formatted in accordance with downstream requirements.

    • The Excel parts list was exported into a document that was correctly formatted to the company’s requirements, eliminating any possible errors that would be caused by users having to manually edit the default export.
    • With the integration of this automation, the Excel file is now created instantaneously, saving an average of six hours per assembly that would be spent on manually editing the Excel file.