I read an online articles headline stating blueprints were dead. I would love that, but in reality I find that proclamation of blueprints being dead as a headline hard to believe at this time. This topic also started a flurry of tweets discussing if paper blueprints were really dead and discussing if hardware could survive some work environments.
First in order to avoid confusion or misunderstanding I want to clearly indicate I prefer mobile digital solutions like using AutoCAD WS, Buzzsaw or Autodesk 360 at the office or at the jobsite to review and/or markup drawings. With mobile there are also many ways to make sure that you have the latest approved drawings and information such as from a Vault server or Autodesk PLM 360. In the design workflows I think paper is all but dead as not many are designing using paper other than perhaps sketching concepts or draft planning but in the use of the design data for assembly, construction, and fabrication drawings the paper still is alive and well in certain rough environments that eat electronics like soft chewy candy.
Let me explain the problem as I see it having worked in several medium and large steel fabrication companies before joining Autodesk. There is one major barrier that prevents digital workflows for viewing drawings everywhere and that is the work environment such one example being a fabrication plant with high voltage equipment such as welding or plasma cutting equipment at fabricators workstations. Current electronics such as laptops, computers, and tablets are all very susceptible to damage by electrical and magnetic interference in addition to other fabrication mechanical dangers like weld spatter, grinding sparks and debris, and of course the mandatory spilled coffee. Also the ability to clearly see a D-size drawing at a welding station is a benefit many cite when discussing paper versus digital solutions. The other thing I have heard is that most wouldn’t be upset if a drawing was destroyed and they had to re-issue and new one versus a destroyed tablet or mobile device replacement cost.
I think most of us would agree that a complete digital workflow solution is best and is the future. What is needed for rough service environments is a shielded and very highly visible device that can be connected to a document system. The days until blueprints are actually dead are still down the road so don’t write it obituary just yet.
What do you think, post your comments.