Home / learn / Cut The Cord That Tie Remote CAD Workers To CAD Workstations
Cut The Cord That Tie Remote CAD Workers To CAD Workstations

Cut The Cord That Tie Remote CAD Workers To CAD Workstations

Remote teams win the talent war. Or how to retain and grow your engineering teams, and make them more productive with online CAD

Why has remote work grown so quickly in all advanced economies? Study after study comes to the same conclusion: both firms and their employees are better off.

The online magazine Entrepreneur illustrates the advantages of remote work for companies. In an article on “remote work”, CEO Cynthia Johnson lists 20 reasons why she’s a big fan.

Her employees are more productive. She saves on office space. She can hire the best talent, no matter where they live. Her employees substitute the time saved on commuting for extra work. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. And so on.

What’s in it for employees? The answer couldn’t be more clear. See for example the 2018 survey “how flexible work effects people’s personal lives”. These numbers speak loud and clear for flexible work: 

  • 94% thought it would have a positive impact on their personal lives.
  • 90% thought a flexible job would help them take better care of themselves.
  • 89% believed it would decrease their levels of stress.
  • 63% thought it would increase their exercise and fitness frequency.
  • 87% said it would create more time to spend with family or friends.

With so many benefits for workers and employers, engineering departments at manufacturing companies cannot ignore this trend. Since engineering is a team sport, the ideal setup is a mix of office and remote work. Today, very few companies offer this.

An exception is PSA, a French multinational manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles. PSA's products are sold under the Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands. 

In 2014, two creative individuals at PSA devised a very inventive solution to let engineers work from home. Alain Gonzalez, expert for Workstations, Graphics Systems & 3D Imagery joined forces with his colleague Thierry Regis, CAD workstation specialist.

Their genial idea was to virtualize the CAD Workstation. In plain English, this means that the CAD application runs in a cloud. 3D designers can access their workstation in the cloud and work with their CAD application from any computer, anywhere. It’s the same what Netflix does with movies.

An article in the Digital Engineering Magazine quoted Gonzalez and Regis:

“While debating the pros and cons of [CAD workstation] virtualization, Gonzalez and Regis put together a list of benefits to justify the migration. Gonzalez says, “There are about 50 items on that list.” One of the items — which was on the company HR officials’ wish list — is the ability to accommodate more work-from-home employees. …“In the past, we weren’t able to allow people who worked with [CATIA] CAD software to work from home because the cost to accommodate them with remote workstations was not reasonable,” he says.

These benefits of virtual CAD workstations also extend beyond PSA's own emlpoyees. 

Now PSA also lets its contractors and suppliers connect to virtual workstations instead of remote machines. “About 300 contractors are now working with us using virtual workstations,” says Gonzalez.

With virtual CAD machines, remote work is finally possible for designers and engineers of all company sizes. These employees deserve to live happy and productive lives. And their employers deserve a fair chance to retain their engineers, attract new talent and make them more productive.