Working Remotely with DS – Design Data Management Tools


The world that we all live in has been changed by the Covid-19 outbreak. Stay at home orders and social distancing significantly impact the way we live our daily lives. We greet our friends and neighbors with a hi and a wave from 6-10 feet away. A dinner out has become a quick run for take-out and a bottle of wine to be eaten in the kitchen or on the back porch. Grocery shopping is a masked adventure and a frustrating hunt for cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Parents are educating their kids at home. Meanwhile, many of us in the design engineering profession are transitioning to working remotely.

Wild, Wild West

Working remotely presents a whole new set of challenges for engineers and the companies that employ us. We now work on company supplied-laptops that typically connect back to the corporate network through a VPN. Then, if we are lucky, these laptops will have local installations of the design tools we need to get our jobs done. The VPN connection gives us access to the location of our design files. Ah, my work life is great. Data, tools and a laptop. What more can I ask for?

Hold on a minute! The truth is that this new work scenario can create a wild wild west situation with the data sets we work with. Typically, the bandwidth through the VPN will not be sufficient to support working directly on the data files located on the corporate network. However, there is a way around this: copy the data files to the local drive on your laptop. But even that “fix” brings up several issues:

  • Is this the best idea? How can the design team lead know who is working on which designs?
  • How do I show a co-worker what I am talking about when I raise a question?
  • What happens when someone else grabs a copy of the same file(s) I am using and makes changes?
  • The ECAD librarians cannot use local copies of the corporate library and ensure the integrity of their work.

Situations such as this have become the “new normal” for corporations and the engineers that they employ. The good news is that when working remotely with DS tools, you can easily deal with issues like these. The DS family of products has one purpose: manage all the data generated and worked on by Zuken’s authoring tools.

Different teams, different needs

Let’s take a look at the needs of the design team leads. They need to easily control who has access to design data that a given team is working on. Therefore, it’s crucial that they know who on the team has the gold copy of a data set at any given time. There also needs to be an easy way to review progress and see what a team member is talking about when they ask a question.

The corporate IT team has different needs. The design data represents the company’s intellectual property so it must be kept under tight control and preferably vaulted on the corporate network. They have concerns about the data that the at-home employees have on their laptops. There needs to be a way to recover this data if the need arises.

The individual engineer needs to be able to easily access the data files, simulation libraries, CAD libraries, component metadata and instructions necessary to do their job. There needs to be an easy way to share their data with other members of the design team. They need to feel confident that their design data sets are safe and secure.

Let’s not forget the at-home librarian team. The only way to keep the integrity of the ECAD library is to keep it centralized while the librarians work on it. Librarians need the ability to initiate peer reviews for checking purposes. They need easy access to component datasheets. When working remotely with DS, the ability to create and manage quick-turn parts that require a temporary part number is now a necessity. There must also be a controlled method of replicating these library data files to locations easily accessible to the design teams.

Addressing varying needs

We can help you address all of these varying needs when working remotely with DS tools.

Design team leads

  • Access rights allow them to control who can see and work on given design data sets.
  • Check-in/out capability indicates who is currently in possession of the gold copy of the design data.
  • Embedded viewers allow for easy progress checks without consuming an authoring tool license.

Corporate IT team

  • The company IP is under tight control, vaulted on the corporate network.
  • Administrative users can easily recover data on home-based laptops, provided they have a connection to the corporate VPN.

Individual engineers

  • Centrally control and access component, ECAD library, and design data in one location.
  • Data shortcuts that give viewers access to other team members allow engineers to easily indicate where their questions lie.
  • All other users limited to read-only access for a design once you check it out. No more worries about someone making changes to a copy of the design while someone else is working on it.

For the librarian team

  • The entire at-home team works on a single centrally controlled library. Eliminating the need for uncontrolled local copies.
  • Easily replicate ECAD libraries to multiple locations.
  • Store component datasheets and lifecycle information as part of the library record, thus giving librarians and engineers easy access to this critical information.
  • Initiate peer review and data checking through approval flows.
  • Process controls and checks are in place for “quick-turn” parts.

The NEW way forward

You may think your company’s new working reality looks daunting, but try to embrace this reality rather than fear it. These new work challenges magnify the need to solve some old data management issues, and Zuken offers a family of ECAD data management tools to help you address them. Take a close look at the capabilities of DS tool family for electrical and electronic design data management, then breathe a sigh of relief. Your new reality does not need to resemble the Wild Wild West!

Our team is here to help. Whether it’s helping you set up for working remotely with DS, providing an emergency license, or answering your tool questions. Reach out, we’ll be there. We’re in this together!

See our full series on working remotely with Zuken!

Shawn Larson
Shawn Larson
Senior Technical Fellow
Shawn Larson is one of the technical leads for the DS product line working primarily on data management implementations. He helps customers to get the right design data in the right place at the right time. Shawn enjoys good jazz, classic rock, and all seasons in New Hampshire's White Mountains.
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