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Any suggestions how to establish a digital inventory for equipment and a digital library of customer projects?

Question asked by Wojciech Limanowka on Sep 27, 2016
Latest reply on Sep 28, 2016 by Tim Pulaski

Introduction: Hello everyone, my name is Jake and I am a junior electrical engineer who is currently tasked with setting up a digital library/inventory for a new start-up company. I have been learning to use Solidworks Electrical over the past year.


Quick Summary: Can anyone advise on how best to set up a digital inventory of company equipment and a digital library of customer projects within Solidworks Electrical so that the process is relatively straight forward (requiring as little manual input and alterations as possible). It should be possible to copy drawings/circuits/components from the inventory and place them into specific customer projects, where upon the copied material can be specially tailored for that particular project if need be. Each inventory/library should track its own revisions. The main problem I face is that Solidworks Electrical seems to be designed more for consulting/contract work, where projects don't have much overlap and where the company doesn't have its own line of equipment that they develop, revise, assembly, store and/or use regularly.


Detailed Requirements: My task is to organize and separate electrical drawings for both individual equipment and for entire customer projects. The ideal outcome is to have a separate digital inventory for the regular equipment that is assembled and/or used by the company, and a separate digital library for specific projects completed for customers, which consist of different combinations and alterations of the previously-mentioned equipment and sometimes specialized equipment just for that project. The idea is to allow drawings/circuits/components from the inventory to be copied directly into the project. At which point, project-dependent alterations can be made to the copied material. The final product should allow for revisions to be made and tracked in both libraries. This allows for a part in the inventory to be revised while the projects that use that part continues to contain the drawings for the actual revision of the part that was used and installed. The company inventory can be updated and revised, while projects retain information and drawings for the specific equipment that was installed, regardless of the current revision for that part.


Attempted Solution: My original plan was to set "Project #0" as the digital inventory, with each of its books containing the electrical drawings for an individual piece of equipment. This way the inventory would be allocated to "Project #0," while the rest of the Projects would correspond to specific projects undertaken for customers. This way drawings/components/circuits could be copied from the inventory located in "Project #0" and placed into individual Projects without having to redraw everything from scratch.  Any required alterations that are unique to the project could then be made in the copied material.


Subsequent Problems: The problem I encountered is that Location and Function are only unique to the Project; I can't change it to be unique per book as I can the component, terminal, terminal strip tags. I could create an unique location and function for each book in the inventory, but I can't seem to set the corresponding sub-locations and sub-functions to restart their order numbers from 1. I get L1+L2+L3 instead of L1+L1+L1. It seems this used to be possible in earlier versions of Solidworks Electrical (as I see in videos and pictures online), but it has either been removed or I can't find it in the configurations. I want to make things as straight-forward as possible for future users, so I'd prefer not having to create a new location and a new function to correspond with each new piece of equipment added to the inventory; on the other hand, I don't have the drawings for a specific part to refer only to Locations #34-65, because that will just raise questions of what happened to Locations #1-33 (Which would have been allocated to equipment drawings at an earlier date).


Imperfect Solution: The only option I see is to make both the individual pieces of equipment and the customer projects as individual Solidworks Electrical Projects. Id have to use differences in the "Contract Numbers" to help distinguish them in the Project Manager, such as "PROJECT-###" for projects and "INVENTORY-###" for individual pieces of equipment. One would have to use the filter function in the project Manager to look at a list of just one or the other.


Request: Can anyone advise on a better strategy than the Imperfect Solution above in order to set up a digital inventory of company equipment and a digital library of customer projects within Solidworks Electrical so that the process is relatively straight-forward and intuitive (requiring as little manual input and alterations as possible)?