Jim Brown, Michelle Boucher, and I got an introduction to Canvas GFX and its Envision product for interactive work instructions in a recent briefing. The question I, as the manufacturing analyst had, was: Can a system for model-based interactive work instructions really be easy enough for non-engineering users to embrace?
Canvas GFX says yes, and continues to enhance and expand its Canvas Envision product. Now, beyond a wide array of 2D and 3D CAD formats, it is ready to integrate with major PLM platforms such as Aras, Propel, and Siemens Teamcenter.
This company has 30 years of history, starting in the 1980s as a Mac-based 2D illustration program. Since the mid-1990s, large aerospace, defense, and industrial equipment organizations adopted Canvas as a solution for technical illustrations. This foundation brings strength in 2D CAD, including some older and less-common formats.
Canvas Envision came out in 2021, after new investors and executives joined. Canvas Envision is intended as a SaaS platform for all phases of work instruction: creation, customization, and consumption. However, some of its major customers have pushed it into on-prem and private cloud offerings.
Canvas’ vision for Envision extends through the product lifecycle:
- Manufacturing process instructions
- Technical documentation or manuals
- employee training
- MRO or field service repair guides
Using the native CAD models is a foundation for the product approach. Users can upload CAD models directly or from a PLM system in a wide variety of of 2D and 3D CAD formats. The offering may be beneficial in transitioning operations from 2D to 3D and from nearly any legacy way of working into a more coherent digital thread. It could also support model-based enterprise.
Creating visual, interactive work instructions for the plant floor, training, and MRO can be tedious and time-consuming. When that’s the case, consuming them can be too. And that defeats the purpose. Canvas Envision appears to be easy to use; the user interface is similar to Microsoft Office applications, and the system imports the BOM and all the annotations and PMI associated with the CAD assembly model. Using multiple layers, the system also enables local language display of work instructions.
My favorite part is that during the sales process, they do a proof of concept. At that very early point, Canvas can identify issues with the original CAD data such as missing PMI or unclear units of measure, which is typically the bane of those creating and executing work instructions. This capability to pinpoint where companies may be missing opportunities to truly move into a model-based enterprise environment could be highly valuable.
Thank you, Pat Hume, Burcu Gacal, Ellie Linehan, John Yee, and Mike Hibbard for taking the time to get us up to speed. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation and following the progress of Canvas Envision in the market.