Managing Fusion 360 Workflow

January 12, 2022 Tim Strandberg

If you're acquainted at all with the Autodesk Fusion 360 modeling / render / animation / simulation / manufacturing and drawing platform, you quickly get the idea that Fusion 360 can be a lot of things to a lot of people with very differing interests.  When you include additive manufacturing, nesting and generative design as Fusion 360 extensions you quickly realize that Fusion 360 is a very comprehensive package.  In short, extensions allow you to customize your Fusion 360 experience to match your needs.

Today I'm going to give you a brief exposure to another, perhaps little known extension called the "Fusion 360 Manage Extension".  Many of you may already be familiar with the cloud based Fusion 360 Manage Product Lifecycle Management software, (formerly known as PLM360).

PLM software allows us to not only manage metadata, but also manage processes that are necessary to bring products to market in a timely and profitable manner.

While Fusion 360 Manage can be configured to manage virtually any process, Fusion 360 Manage Extension provides some much needed functionality to the Fusion 360 modeling toolset.

While Fusion 360 is my go to tool for designing parts and assemblies, it does come up short when trying to manage the data behind the models.  

According to a survey performed by Tech-Clarity, on behalf of Autodesk, 57% of companies have issues with Change Management and Product Release cycles.  Typically, companies are so focused on getting product out the door that these important processes fall by the wayside, and as many manufacturers can attest, errors, omissions and lack of oversight management can eat you alive.

Even where companies have processes in place to handle these issues, nearly a third of those interviewed still reported issues with Design Review, Signoff responsibility and the Release process in general.

As a Fusion 360 user you're aware that Fusion 360 keeps track of versions, but not revisions.   When you add the Fusion 360 Manage Extension you get the advantages of a PLM system all in the design environment you're used to working in.

Through an integration between Fusion 360 , Fusion Team and Fusion 360 Manage, you get the best of both worlds.   Now Fusion 360 users as well as  anyone within your organization with access to Fusion Team can access 3D models views, important metadata, and most importantly Revision Control  for Fusion 360 content.  This feature takes the concept of collaboration to the next level.

Fusion Team members, including those not in a typical CAD Engineering role, can participate in activities such as product management and change control. Now purchasing and manufacturing no longer have to hope and pray they have the latest greatest design.

Fusion 360 Manage Extension employs a feature known as "instant on".  This means that once you secure licensing for the extension, (can be purchased through the Fusion 360 extension manager), Autodesk with "provision", or turn on access to your new environment.  Best of all it's ready to start using immediately!

Let's take a look at some of the major features in the Manage Extension. When you launch Fusion 360 you'll notice immediately that you have more functionality available.

Notice there is a new way to access Projects and Models as well as a link to Process.  You can navigate to specific models and start to gather information even before you open the file.

  1. Open the file right from the Overview panel
  2. See that the part has been assigned an Item number
  3. The lifecycle in PLM is currently Pre-Production  (prototype)
  4. Current Revision
  5. Current state in the change order workflow
  6. Change Order controlling this item
  7. "T" has this part reserved and it is currently under edit
  8. Flag icon indicating that the model represents a "milestone" version

We can also see that the component is used in one other document and that it has one drawing.  You may notice that the Item Number and Change Order are hyperlinks and will navigate the user directly to that item in the process environment.

Metadata can be embedded into the components by filling out the component properties.

This data will be automatically pushed over to the Process side once an item number is assigned.  When the Manage Extension is enabled, a new Manage panel appears as well has a "Home" button that toggles between the dashboard and design environments. 

On the manage tab there are 3 new buttons:  To assign an item number simply select components and click the button.