Connecting CAD to ERP (Dynamics NAV)

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The challenge of making an electronic connection between the CAD and the ERP system, started back in the old days, when among others, IBM introduced solutions for the CIM – Computer Integrated Manufacturing company where the CAD/ERP integration was a part of this.

It was never a success and still it is a minor success for a number of reasons.

This is very strange because huge indirect manufacturing costs and possible time savings are hidden in this area.

Number 1 reason is that the people in R&D and production engineering are living in 2 different worlds in the sense they have a different view of a product’s data. Another fact is that R&D people hardly know how a product is produced most optimally, taking logistics and production facilities into consideration.

Schematic the modelling and transformation process of moving CAD bill of material data into something useful for production purposes looks like this:


So what is needed is a standard tool or “glue” so that R&D data can be transformed and modelled into manufacturing data by a production engineer in a flexible, efficient and automated way.

A few important points can be set up when considering an efficient solution:

Importing CAD files. 
A kind of functionality for importing the CAD product files must exist. Most CAD systems can deliver an excel-file as part of the release process. This import or transfer makes up the production engineer's playground for doing his job.

It should made to a specific ERP solution.
Ideally the system should have its roots in the specific ERP-system and made specific for this, and not as a general solution covering more (many) ERP solutions. I do not believe anyone in the world has the necessary knowledge about the many individual ERP solutions features and functions and the data required to use these features and functions.

It should have the function of being able to re-model the construction bill of material into a production bill of material.

CAD systems can deliver item/article/property information together with a construction bill of materials. The challenge is that the production engineer definitely wants to change these construction bills of materials into something suitable for production. Normally make-to-stock, make-to-order etc. considerations make these decisions. It is only the production engineer who can do this job. When he is done, construction bills of materials are now named production bills of materials, and are now ready for use in production orders.

If the solution you are looking at does not have the modelling capability, then beware.

What is the idea of taking CAD bill of material data on-board as is it is in the ERP-system? This just creates the double-work in the ERP-system afterwards – deleting, changing, adding, re-creating and other bad work.

Not many CAD systems care about route and process information for making a product. 
To complete the whole set of master data it is very important that the production engineer can add route/process/text information based on master data in the ERP system when he has finished the bill of material modelling.

Creating ERP data
Adding/changing/ deleting item/Bill of material/routing data in the ERP-system should be an automated and ERP-system data validated process.

Re-modelling and creating new data based on existing ERP data

Find out if is possible to copy data from the ERP-system into the modelling tool when creating new products or variants similar to existing in an easy way. This can be a big advantage.

Much more can be said. The NAVEKSA CADCONNECT solution for Dynamics NAV complies with the above points and much more. If interested please see our youtube video or visit our web site at:


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