How does version control help the hardware industry?

October 27, 2021

If your work revolves around hardware design or product development, you’ll often come across the term version control. Version control is a category of processes and tools that engineers use to manage changes during design reviews. It allows people to record edits, access old versions of designs, and simultaneously work together on projects without affecting each other’s tasks. Be careful not to confuse this with version history, which only allows users to view previous iterations.

Version control is used in both hardware and software to see which design version performs the best. For example, a PCB design will change as each team member reviews and makes modifications to the schematics. The more reviews a teammate makes, the more complex the project becomes. With version control, you can understand the project better by tracking all iterations and changes.

Let’s take a look at the different scenarios in which version control is beneficial:

Transparency and communication 

The hardware design review process is an ever-changing landscape. With cross-functional stakeholders always working together, issues and problems often arise. Therefore, teams need a simple process to aid the problem of poor communication. Version control minimizes conflict by keeping a record of everything. If there’s a dispute about a change, the relevant users can simply access the versions they need to integrate or reverse them.

Bild’s contextual version control was designed with this very situation in mind! Our version control includes records of the feedback and comments that drove a change forward. This allows anybody looking back at past versions to understand exactly who made the change and why they did! Armed with this information, engineers can make faster and more informed decisions.

Tracking changes

We all know that time is one of our most valuable resources, so why do we spend so much of it in unnecessary meetings? 

Every hardware project consists of countless moving parts as different teams and engineers update and edit designs. With version control, you’ll be able to track changes made by teammates and limit the need for back and forth communication. This, in turn, reduces the number of unnecessary meetings and reclaims time for engineers to focus on their work!

In an effort to free up schedules, Bild’s visual diff tool allows everyone on the platform to easily see what changed between versions—no meeting necessary! 

Developing similar products

Creating a new design from scratch is a super tedious process. It’s especially redundant if you’re developing something similar to past products. This is where version control comes into play! It allows you to start from a pre-existing design and build upon it, saving your valuable time. This speeds up the design process and allows teams to iterate increasingly faster! 

Easy error detection

The tiniest of mistakes can snowball into huge issues down the road, making prevention and error detection so important. 

You’ll never hear anyone say hardware design is easy. That’s because the task involves complicated sub-projects and processes in which mistakes can be introduced at any time. These mistakes are often costly and sometimes even dangerous. Version control helps prevent errors by keeping track of the project and all of its changes. Users can go back and see when things might have gone wrong.

Bild’s immutable history provides a single source of truth for design changes. With all information stored in one place, engineers and their collaborators can be confident in their decisions!

Managing and directing work

Product managers have the difficult task of overseeing project contributors and ensuring the product is delivered on time. Version control helps with this by allowing them to track team progress, regulate access to products, allocate different components to different designers, and then bring the components together by integrating changes. It also lets them see the amount and quality of work done on a product. 

Version control is an invaluable process and tool for hardware design. It helps manage teams, track design changes, streamline communications, and limit mistakes. Best of all, Bild provides version control carefully designed to harness all of these benefits within one platform! Our version control is made easier and more collaborative through integrations with git-based systems that allow you to communicate cross-functionally. 

Try Bild today to see how it improves your workflow!