Asynchronous Design Reviews in CoLab: A Step by Step Guide

CoLab Team

October 31, 2023


min read

Engineering design reviews are essential to ensure that products meet requirements and adhere to industry standards. However, traditional synchronous design review meetings can be challenging to coordinate, especially when engineering teams are distributed across the globe. The time-consuming nature of these meetings can cause delays and hinder productivity.

In this article, we explore how to run an asynchronous design review in CoLab.

Getting Started with CoLab

Uploading Files

One of the key advantages of CoLab is its extensive support for over 70 CAD file types, accommodating a wide range of design software commonly used by engineering teams. This means that when doing a design review in CoLab, everyone has access to the 3D model, regardless of their access to CAD license or experience with complex CAD tools.

In addition to its comprehensive file support, CoLab offers native integrations with popular PLM platforms such as Windchill and Teamcenter. These integrations allow teams to work within their existing PLM environments while taking advantage of CoLab's powerful collaboration features. By meeting engineering teams where they are, CoLab ensures a smoother and more efficient design review process, ultimately saving time and reducing potential errors.

Kicking off a Review

Step 1: Request a Design Review

To initiate the design review process, the project owner or manager should create a request for review. This request should clearly outline the project scope, design objectives, and specific areas that need to be reviewed.

Step 2: Invite Team Members and Setup the Review

Next, invite relevant team members to participate in the design review process. These may include engineering, procurement, and manufacturing, and other stakeholders who can provide valuable input and expertise. When inviting team members, be sure to clearly communicate the review objectives and expectations. If your review process uses standardized checklists, attach a checklist to the review.

Step 3: Collaborate and Provide Feedback

When reviewing a 2D document or 3D model in CoLab, it's easy to draw attention to comments, feedback, and design issues for your team, stakeholders, customers, and partners. You have the option to create feedback in various forms, such as issues, tasks, comments, and markups. Below, we describe the intended use for each feedback type:

  • Issue: Use this when a problem needs addressing and requires broader tracking and more details. For example, during a design review, if you discover a clash, raise an issue stating, "Clash between chassis and brake mount."
  • Task: Create a task when there's an action to complete that isn't necessarily a problem. For instance, while working on your design, you may add a task to "Complete FEA Analysis."
  • Comment: Share a smaller note with a designer for minor changes that are important but don't need to clutter a dashboard of significant issues. For example, when reviewing a drawing, you might add a comment that the "Title block is missing information."
  • Markup: Opt for this when you've done an extensive markup of a drawing and prefer not to create separate comments for each individual markup. The markup type streamlines the process by consolidating multiple markups, making it easier to find and review them as a group.

For issues and tasks, you can include extra details, as they are meant to be trackable and traceable items within the dashboard. Comments and markups, however, are short-form feedback containing only a title, status, assignee, and comment. They are designed to reside directly in the file without the need for traceability through the dashboard. Using comments and markups helps prevent the dilution of issues and tasks with minor notes (e.g., typos or formatting).

E.g. Some feedback types are automatically tracked

Step 4: Track and Resolve Issues

Monitor the progress of the design review process and track any issues that arise. Work with team members to address these issues, assign responsibility for resolving them, and ensure that they are resolved before the due date.

Step 5: Finalize and Close the Review

Once all issues have been resolved and the design has been thoroughly reviewed, finalize the review process. This may involve updating documentation, revising the design, or making other necessary adjustments. After the review has been completed, close the process and notify team members of the outcome.

By following these steps and using a structured approach, you can ensure an effective and efficient design review process that leads to better outcomes for your engineering projects.

How CoLab Enhances the Design Review Process

Asynchronous Collaboration: Flexibility for Distributed Teams

CoLab allows team members to access engineering data, review designs, and collaborate on their own time, fostering an asynchronous approach that brings several benefits to the design review process:

  1. Greater flexibility: Team members can contribute to the project whenever they are available, accommodating different time zones, work schedules, and personal commitments.
  2. Enhanced productivity: Asynchronous collaboration reduces the need for time-consuming meetings, allowing team members to focus on their core tasks without interruptions.
  3. Inclusive decision-making: By giving all team members the opportunity to participate in the design review process, CoLab helps ensure diverse perspectives are considered and valuable insights are not overlooked.

Improved Communication: Reducing Miscommunication and Enhancing Collaboration

CoLab's 3D CAD viewer and integrated communication tools enhance communication among team members by enabling them to provide feedback directly on the design:

  1. Model browser: The 3D CAD viewer allows users to zoom, pan, and rotate the design, ensuring everyone has a clear understanding of the project.
  2. Contextual feedback: Team members can annotate the design directly, pinpointing specific areas that need attention, reducing miscommunication, and ensuring feedback is easily understood.
  3. Real-time collaboration: Integrated communication tools allow team members to discuss design aspects and provide feedback in real-time, fostering a collaborative environment.

Streamlined Workflow: Centralized Design Review for Efficient Issue Resolution

CoLab simplifies the design review process by centralizing all relevant information in one place, resulting in a more streamlined workflow for engineering teams:

  1. Efficient issue tracking: By consolidating design review data, CoLab makes it easy to identify and resolve issues quickly, reducing project delays and costly errors.
  2. Clear responsibilities: CoLab allows you to assigns tasks and responsibilities to specific team members, ensuring everyone knows their role in the design review process.
  3. Organized collaboration: A centralized design review hub helps keep team members focused on their tasks, making it easier to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines.

By embracing asynchronous collaboration, improved communication, and simplified workflows, CoLab enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of engineering design reviews, leading to better outcomes for projects and teams.


Is CoLab only compatible with specific CAD software?

CoLab supports over 70 different file types, ensuring that engineering teams can work with the tools they're most familiar with.

How does CoLab handle data security?

CoLab employs robust security measures to protect user data, including encryption, access controls, and regular security audits. CoLab adheres to stringent industry standards, ensuring that your design data remains secure.

How does CoLab handle version control?

CoLab provides built-in version control, enabling teams to easily track changes and compare different design iterations. Users can upload new versions of files while retaining access to previous versions and their associated feedback.

Is CoLab suitable for small teams?

While CoLab is scalable and adaptable to fit the needs of teams of various sizes, its features and capabilities are particularly beneficial for larger distributed teams and enterprise organizations. CoLab is designed to address the unique challenges faced by these teams, such as coordinating across different time zones and managing complex design review processes.

May 12, 2023

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