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Check it Out: Calculate Your Workstation ROI

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

ROI CalculatorClick here to check out the ROI Calculator

Hidden expenses ruin your bottom line. What’s worse are those hidden expenses smack in front of your nose that are not deemed "real" expenses. Consider your engineering workstation. Since you last upgraded it, SolidWorks, say, may have come out with three or four upgrades, and you didn’t think twice about upgrading it. "It’ll make me more productive," you reasoned. But how can goodies like increased functionality, multithreading, bigger data loads, and more compute-intensive renderings make you more productive when your old workstation takes forever to execute them?

Look, I’m cheap, so I admit that the bean counters have a point. How do you prove your productivity gains and the ROI (return on investment) on a new workstation purchase? Well, dear DE reader, have I got something for you to check out today. This is great.

NVIDIA and Dell have teamed up to create an online tool they call the ROI Calculator. What this baby does is takes your numbers and data, then shows you what your payback period will be in terms of productivity, saved hours, and labor costs with a new workstation versus your old one.

And it’s not just a guesstimate. The ROI Calculator asks you for things like the number of CAD users and their average annual salary. It asks about the types of projects you typically do — e.g., simulation and rendering — and the average project size. It even asks you to classify the level (entry, intermediate, or advanced) of the GPU (graphics processing unit) you currently use and what you’re looking at in terms of an upgrade. The ROI calculator then crunches your numbers and shows you in real numbers the time, money, hours, the payback period, and, mostly importantly, your ROI on an investment in a new workstation.

The calculator’s results assume a 3.3GHz Xeon-based workstation with 6GB RAM running SolidWorks 2011, so results for Inventor and other CAD applications may vary. Like EPA mileage ratings, you expect that.

So anyway, I plugged in some numbers. I chose two users. They do CAD, simulation, and rendering of large assemblies 50% of their time. I bought them an entry-level ($1,900) engineering workstation equipped with an entry-level NVIDIA Quadro 2000 graphics accelerator. The results: I recouped 292 hours " 30% — of their time. Figuring they made $65,000 a year, the ROI Calculator tells me that I saved $9,880 (annually) and had an eye-popping ROI of 1,560%. I’d print out the results to show the boss, except I’m the only one in my office.

Geez, this is a cool one to check out, folks. Every minute you wait for your workstation to do something costs your company, its clients, or both of them money. The ROI is your proof for the bean counters and for yourself. Hit the link and check this out. Can’t beat this one.

Thanks, Pal. " Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.