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Monday, November 24, 2008

Interview with Rich

I had the opportunity to discuss AutoCAD with one of my colleagues the other day while trying to help him with some problems. His name is Rich Hogan and has been using AutoCAD since the early days of AutoCAD. At our company we use a customized version of AutoCAD Mechanical 2005. After I helped him with his immediate problem I started to ask a few more questions to become more educated about some of the AutoCAD users I would be working with. Here are some of our Q & A.

Q) Rich, what is your favorite version of AutoCAD?

A) AutoCAD R14 

Q) Why do you prefer AutoCAD 14?

A) AutoCAD 14 included the most innovations in a single release (I never really used AutoCAD 13). There were many new commands, the interface changes (Toolbars and Icons) seemed logical and fairly intuitive. 

Q) Would you lose any functionality from our current version if we were to move back to version 14?

A) Yes. I am currently using a heavily customized version of AutoCAD 2005. I'm sure that there are a number of commands and scripts that I use, that would not be supported by the earlier version. The greatest impact would be the loss of the ability to Scroll, Pan, and Zoom using the middle mouse button. I currently use a 5 button MS optical mouse, and I'm not sure that AutoCAD 14 could support the customization. 

Q) What type of designs do you use AutoCAD for?

A) The company I work for is a Systems Integrator for the assembly of Automotive Power Train components. We design and build assembly lines that make cylinder heads, engines, transmissions and axles for the automotive and related industries. My particular area of responsibility is as a transport designer responsible for the layout, design, release and support of the transport (conveyor system) that moves the part(s) through the various automatic and manual assembly stations. This also includes the development, and maintenance of the plant layout showing the assembly line, including the conveyor stations, dunnage, aisles, and all surrounding plant features, columns, team rooms, storage areas, etc... 

Q) On average, how many hours a day do you use AutoCAD?

A) I probably use AutoCAD about 5 plus hours a day, it depends on what phase a project is at, more at the start in the concept and design phase, less in the build and support phase, and then the most at the final documentation phase. 

Q) Do you feel you could complete these designs in 3D? and if so, do you think there would be value to the 3D models and visualization that comes along with 3D Design?

A) Many designs could be done in 3D, particularly the design of the individual components, conveyor sections, elevators, rotates and diverts. Our parent company in Germany uses 3D for these designs. But the overall plant, and system layouts are more like an architectural plan view (floor plan) of the assembly line. Unless there were some very lean models, a 3D plant layout would be too large for practical use.

Q) I have talked to you briefly in the past about a new product I have seen that allows a 3D rules based design. What are your thoughts on that tool?

A) I am very interested in learning more about this tool. I believe that with the proper planning, implementation, and support it may be a very powerful tool that could help to automate the design and layout of the conveyor system. 

Q) In closing, what is your favorite AutoCAD 14 command and why?

A) My favorite AutoCAD 14 command is the Properties dialog box. This command brought up only the specific properties that could be edited for the object type selected. With this command I was able to very easily edit and object my drawing and get the desired results the first time. The current properties side bar menu in AutoCAD is a complete nightmare. You have to wade through chevron after chevron to find specifically the property you are looking for. This is particularly true for the editing of dimensions. My employer uses dimension overrides for all dimensions (no dimension styles). This makes for some very interesting situations when combining drawings from different vendors and or different CAD standards.

There you have it,  AutoCAD 14 is still everyone’s favorite version of AutoCAD. Thanks for your thoughts Rich, we will be talking again in the future.

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