I haven't heard of too many people making use of items, and Solidworks doesn't seem to push it much, I would use caution before getting too deep into it, not knowing the future of items.
That could be said for the future of EPDM all together. ;-) But for our use it is a very power feature inside of EPDM. If people understood how they could leverage it I'm sure there would be more people using it. We are neck deep in this at this point.
EPDM has a lot of potential to go well beyond a tool that does simple CAD data management with a combination of Word document management for ECO's and CAD file structures.
EPDM can become a simple content management system (CMS) as well. Once you have your product documentation under control you can start to "automate" processes for front-end sales and customer web-portals. The key here is using a system that 1) has both data sets in one database and 2) allows you to "link" your product part number with all the associated documentation required for sales and post sales deliverables. Items allows you that capability. Now that you have the capability you can start to automate you sales processes. Which in turns removed the "administrative" tasks that your sales person does and gives the sales person more time to do sales.
My concern is the performance issues that might arise with the one-to-many references in the database.
Just thinking out loud here: When one thinks of the many-to-many references that EPDM manages with file (SW) references, I don't think there would be a performance issue with items. It's all SQL afterall. My 2c.
As we will be importing Item Masters (Part Numbers / Boms) from an old legacy mainframe system, I want to use Items but I'm finding limitations with the Item Explorer interface.
- Can't add custom columns to the Item Explorer
- Can't create items with Templates
- No web client support (Seems like the Item Explorer interface should've been a web GUI like others do)
I think there's a few others but can't remember them off the top of my head. I'm also concerned that API support for Items might be weak as well.
I haven't decided yet how we will do these, either Items or CVD files....or maybe XML.
Jason, I was truly hoping that you would reply..I was also hoping that you were further along in your projects and learn from your experiences! ;-)
I agree, Jason, that Item Viewer has some limited capabilities (2011). Right now I will have a limited amount of users (maybe four out of 60-ish total) that will really be concerned with the Item Viewer. The majority of the Item "users" (sales) will be using custom programming that only access the links assigned to the Items. That's the good news for me. It keeps sales out of EPDM and in their sales tools! The custom programming will be doing all the behind the scenes work.
For this first step we are keeping it very simple.
One thing I would really like to see is the ability to drag and drop a file from the EPDM viewer into the Item Viewer so that I don't have to define the "link" manually with a browse button.
We implemented ECO (as CVDs), Projects (Just file management, another system maintains the status, tasks, etc.), and drawing maangement. The next step is Item Masters which I expect to have done around summer.
For Items we expect to have a number of custom programs. The built in where-used doesn't work correctly for us so we have to build our own. Also viewing older revisions is a pain in ePDM. The "Get Version" option is not the best, especially when you have "Always work with latest" on. There needs a way to view the datacard and BOM for a giving revision on demand. We have groups of parts in a family that share the same drawing and they all need to stay in sync as far as revisions go.
But by far the most difficult thing I'm struggling with regardless of whether we use Items or CVDs is the ability to alter old revision. Some would say this is a no no and counter to what PDM is suppossed to be for but we need this ability. For documents we can live without it but for Item Masters we have records that were entered in the early 90s for parts going back to the 1960's. There are typos and parts with incorrect attributes that were entered long ago. We correct these as we find them in our existing system. But the only way to do this in ePDM is to change the table directly, something SolidWorks frowns upon. What to do? The admins need the ability to change anything in any verison, manually or via the API.
BTW, I just tried dragging and dropping a file from a search window onto the Item on 2013 and it works.
Items have not been enhanced in last couple of EPDM releases. Try to use virtual files to link all documents.
VFs have a purpose and so do EPDM Items.
We are looking for a way to control documentation associated with "sold good" item number in our ERP system- basically a document management system based on part numbers. We were told we had to use the tools we had and we weren't going the way of SharePoint, yet. EPDM was the likely candidate and Items provided the tool we needed. So far, so good. We will are installing test code this week that ties our CRM, order entry and quote compiling system this week. The quote compiling system is inside our CRM and reads the EPDM Item structure and allows the sales person (inside of CRM) to select associated documetnation to be sent with the quote. It's pretty slick, actually.