Starting with existing designs means engineers don't have to start from scratch. Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. Design models with hundreds of interrelated features can be difficult to change. Engineers often spend more time adjusting earlier models than if they had simply started over. Still, some engineering organizations are seeing measurable success.

According to the Design Reuse Benchmark Report from market research firm Aberdeen Group, Boston, top performers hit engineering targets on a 76%-or-better average. Laggards hit the same targets on a 26%-or-worse average. And while facing challenges for design reuse, best-in-class companies respond by designing for modifications (64%), centralizing design data (43%), and including design details in models (43%).

Top performers are also more likely to dedicate resources to simplifying and verifying designs for reuse (21% versus 0%, and 18% versus 8%, respectively). A majority of these top performers combine preparation (71%) and verification (75%) of designs for reuse in the design phase.

Best in class are three times more likely to use geometric search to find designs for reuse and twice as likely to use automated checking technologies to verify that designs are ready for reuse. And top performers are nearly twice as likely as laggards to track the time required to change existing designs into new ones (54% versus 29%).

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