If there’s one engineering expert who knows a bit about productivity, it’s Frank Bunker Gilbreth. The man known as the “Father of Management Engineering,” along with his wife Lillian, introduced the application of psychology to industrial management.
Their goal was to improve employee satisfaction – and together, they designed systems to ease fatigue and increase productivity, discovering better ways to perform tasks. Today, it’s known as ergonomics, and it’s why we get more done in comfortable, task-oriented chairs that also spin.
All of that is no doubt impressive, but what’s more so is that, while finding ways to make our work lives more efficient, Gilbreth and his wife also raised 12 children. In fact, their story was the basis for the movie Cheaper By The Dozen – and anyone who has been around kids knows that kind of juggling is productivity at its finest.
Luckily, finding ways to be more productive using AutoCAD and becoming a better engineer doesn’t require producing a family soccer team. We’ve done the research and found some great tips from others in the field that you can start using immediately, plus some cool apps for productivity at your fingertips…
Workbench helps you collaborate and share designs, but AutoCAD gets the process started. Knowing those quick commands and shortcuts when you’re trying to make a deadline is invaluable for boosting productivity and crushing those workflows. Here’s a list of the basics from Donkan Designs Technologies:
The F keys
F1: Launches the AutoCAD Help System
F2: Open or expands the command line as a text window
F3: Toggles Object Snap (OSNAP) on or off
F5: Switches between the ISO planes (effective in Isometric Snap Mode)
F6: Toggles Dynamic UCS on or off
F8: Toggles Orthographic Mode (Ortho) on or off
F10: Toggles Polar Tracking on or off
Stay in CTRL
CTRL+0: Clean screen, maximizes your graphic window
CTRL+1: Opens or closes the Properties Palette
CTRL+3: Opens or closes the Tools Palette
CTRL+8: Opens or closes the Quick Calculator
CTRL+9: Opens or closes the Command Line
CTRL+A: Selects all objects on the graphics window
CTRL+R: Cycles through active viewports in Layout
SHIFT+SPACEBAR: Cycles selection between overlapping objects or objects that are close together
CTRL+PAGE DOWN or PAGE UP: Cycles between layouts
CTRL+TAB: Cycles between opened drawing files
Letters with friends
A: ARC command
B: BLOCK command
C: CIRCLE command
CO: COPY command
DT: SINGLE LINE TEXT command
E: ERASE command
I: INSERT BLOCK command
LA: Launches LAYER PROPERTIES MANAGER
L: LINE command
M: MOVE command
MI: MIRROR command
O: OFFSET command
PL: POLYLINE command
POL: POLYGON command
RE or REA: REGENERATE OR REGENERATE ALL command
REC: RECTANGLE command
RO: ROTATE command
SC: SCALE command
S: STRETCH command
T: MULTILINE TEXT command
X: Explode command
Interested in more? You can find the whole list here; be sure to check back frequently, too – this is an ongoing project for the engineers at Donkan Designs Technologies, and more shortcuts are always a good thing.
There’s an app for that…
Stuck for a formula or need the mechanical properties for a given geometric section? There’s an app for that – and they can help you save time and headaches searching for an answer when you’re in the throes of a big project. Even better, the demand for apps specific to mechanical engineers has increased, giving you a lot more options. Here are a few of our favorites…
- Mechanical Engineer: This beast of an app gives you more than 300 mechanical engineering formulas, plus 300 other conversion formulas AND 70 area formulas. Major areas include: actuators bearings, belts, boiler, brakes, clutches, elevators, gears, fluid power, heat transfer, internal combustion, kinetic energy, metalworking, plates, plumbs, power plants, refrigeration, shafts, springs and vehicle drive. You can also save formulas and email the results and, if there’s a formula that’s not in the app, just email the developers and ask them to include it. It would appear that the only thing this doesn’t do is deliver pizza during that all-nighter project. Hmm…
- GrabCAD: The crew at Engineering Exchange included the GrabCAD mobile app as one of the “six mobile apps every mechanical engineer should have,” calling it “popular among the CAD community” because it gives access to the largest library of CAD models, as well as access to private projects for GrabCAD Workbench users. In either case, the app makes it easy to collaborate and accelerate the product development process – on either your Android or iPhone/iPad.
- Engineering Cookbook is exactly that – a reference guide for mechanical designers that gives you immediate access to a huge range of information, including heating and cooling load estimating; sound and vibration guidelines; ventilation rates for indoor air quality; and design formulas and conversion factors. With rating comments like “If you’re looking for it, it’s probably in there,” it’s not surprising that this Android app got four out of five stars.
- EngCalc: Calculate THAT! This stroke of genius makes it easy, with more than 500 engineering formulas, more than 2,900 unit converters, and 100-plus reference tables for mechanical, hydraulic, structural, machine design, electrical, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, pulp and paper, HVAC, pipe flow, and automotive.