Streamlined service on the Web

Autodesk has launched its Web-based ‘Streamline’ service that allows small and mid-size manufacturers to share personalised design data from a single location.

After a five-month pilot period, Autodesk has now launched its web-based ‘Streamline’ service that allows small and mid-size manufacturers to share personalised design data from a single location.

Because it is web-based, and hosted by Autodesk, the Streamline service requires no installation and users can access it from any Internet connection, anywhere in the world, via Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Project sites can be created for projects that involve customers, suppliers, tooling and model makers, or other project members located inside or outside the company.

Using a plug-in, customers can publish their design data directly to the Streamline site, so team members always have access to current data. In the future, Autodesk also plans to offer Streamline users plug-ins that allow the use of design data from other CAD systems.

Users can view 3D design data and mark up single parts of large assemblies using only a standard web browser and dial-up modem as well as mark up 2D drawings by viewing only the information they need. They can point and click to navigate easily between different sheets in a drawing, or between different views in a sheet. This capability eliminates the need to wait for an entire multiple-sheet drawing to download when a user may need access to information in only one sheet.

What is more, they can interact with a large assembly while it is streaming to them. They can view internal parts by simply turning off visibility of outside components or making them transparent.

The Autodesk Streamline service protects customer data through the use of a secure, password-protected environment and data encryption. It also only publishes XML bits of the design file, so team members accessing the data cannot download files or re-create the original CAD file.

Team members can search the design data to locate an associated drawing of a part or assembly. For example, suppliers can search to see all the parts they need to quote on or manufacture.

Lynn Brenton, the director of engineering systems for Lithonia Lighting’s Product and Market Development group, was involved in the pilot programme testing out the software.

‘We have been very successful using Autodesk Streamline during our quoting stage with our suppliers on a new product we are developing. We were able to publish to the Autodesk Streamline project website 66 files and have five suppliers access the specs and drawings to quote the jobs. In the past we have often sent five separate e-mails to each supplier, sometimes more than one to each based on the size of the drawings. Other times, we have plotted all 66 drawings five times for each supplier. Using Autodesk Streamline has been a tremendous time-saver for us,’ she said.

Brenton added that: ‘We will also use Autodesk Streamline in those cases where we want to ensure the supplier has the most recent version of the drawings to cut the part or create the tool and die. By having the supplier publish to the Autodesk Streamline project website the drawings they plan to use to create the part, tool, or die, we can verify these versions with the engineer. Working with out-of-date drawings has been a costly mistake in the past that we are hoping to avoid in the future by using Autodesk Streamline.’

Today, the English language version of the Autodesk Streamline service is available for purchase in the US and Canada. Autodesk plans to have Autodesk Streamline available internationally at a later date.

Prices start at $970 per user, per year, with volume discounts available for broader implementations. Prospective customers can set up a free, seven-day Autodesk Streamline account on the trial site, www.autodesk.com/streamline.

In the future, Autodesk expects to have a version of the Streamline service that can be installed at a customer site.

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