CAD Workstations - IT Best Practices For CAD Computers
Without prior knowledge and reasonable guidance quite often the importance of setting proper budgets and change cycles for the any CAD workstation that is used in your business is often overlooked. In a majority of cases the design office, drawing office or any users of computer aided design programs are central to the profitability of a business, and equally salary costs typically reflect the experience and importance of staff in these positions.
Sadly however without a sound IT policy in place this fact is overlooked and we have experienced many highly paid users having to struggle by using outdated CAD workstations or mobile workstations (because it hasn't broken yet) whilst elsewhere in the business staff running basic office programs have far better systems even though they do not benefit from them.
This imbalance can cost a business with a single CAD user thousands each year and for multiple users the effect is multiplied of course. The cost of running modern CAD applications on inappropriate or old hardware costs industry billions each year globally simply from a lack of knowledge on the businesses or buyers behalf .
So detailed below is a best practice IT policy that any business using computer aided design software should adopt which will ensure that your are getting the very best productivity levels from the CAD software you have purchased, and from your staff that use these applications extensively each day.
CAD Workstation Budgets
Your company's design team or drawing office is probably at the heart of your business and they will be the most demanding users as far as hardware is concerned. Treat their hardware needs separate to the main desktop PC's and define a separate more realistic budget for proper CAD workstations for this department/user.
CAD Workstation Change Cycle
Typically in order to maximize the productive output of the user(s) to take advantage of software updates (that businesses are paying for) and due the much harder demands placed on a workstation PC or mobile workstations, plan to change your CAD workstations every two years or three years at most budget permitting . Failure to do this will mean your business will be bleeding money from a productivity standpoint.
These used workstations can then be passed down the line where they will make excellent office machines. By adopting this strategy your most demanding users will always remain at the peak of productivity and you'll achieve a better return on your hardware investment.
CAD Workstations Minimum System Requirements
Do Not under any circumstances look at minimum system requirements for your CAD workstations! This is a big no no as essentially what you are saying by adopting this approach is what is the slowest possible machine that this very expensive software will run on?
This is a very detrimental and ultimately costly approach for your business, why? Your software will only run at a fraction of it's potential, your operators will be unproductive today let alone for the next 3 years and will become frustrated, and you could in fact end up having to buy another CAD workstation or mobile workstation far sooner than you planned if the next software upgrade has higher minimum requirements which often happens.
Workstation Cost Differential
Based on the recommended hardware change cycle the difference in cost between a minimum spec CAD workstation and a high performance one that will give the business maximum productivity when split over 3 years is in reality minimal. Buying at or running minimum spec hardware is an extremely false economy and will cost the business much more than it will save.
So in summary before we move on to CAD workstations Vs Personal computers, please see the above as sound business advice and industry best practice and please consider it well before you set the budget for any CAD workstation or mobile workstation going forward.