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SolidWorks use in the shop

Question asked by Gary Lucas on Jan 9, 2017
Latest reply on Jan 9, 2017 by Bernie Daraz

We build equipment skids.  We are a startup operation with a couple of fairly complex products for waste treatment.  As with any startup we struggle with simply getting the massive number of parts modeled, part numbers in every part and the huge number of part drawings and assembly drawings needed to build our product.  Adding to that is that I have a young engineer assisting me that has not yet fully grasped the concept that drawings are the language that engineers and the shop use to communicate.  Plus the shop guys are all new to this product and I am training them as well.


It was suggested by one of the young guys that we should have a computer in the shop and work right from the 3D models.  I shot that down as I have tried this in the past and there were tons of reasons it didn't work well.  This included a lack of tolerances, notes, and feedback to engineering just to name a few.  Plus I have so often been told by people they know how to use AutoCad or SolidWorks, and I am well aware these casual users mostly make a mess they are completely unaware of without proper training.


However in light of the way things are going out in the shop (slow, lots of rework) without me being there constantly I am reconsidering the idea.  Currently thinking only for the assembly operation because the failure to provide enough drawings with all the right dimensions really causes problems.  The correct solution is more manpower but that won't be happening soon.  So I am very interested in what others might be doing out in the shop, how well it works, and what they have done to pull it off.  We have a large workbench in the assembly area that is on wheels and has a structure down the middle with a board to hold drawings on both sides.  We could easily mount a large screen 4K television (cheap after Christmas) there as a monitor and use it with a wireless mouse and keyboard.  Alternately we have an unused foreman's standing desk with drawers and such that could be used.


Is the free SolidWorks Viewer usable in this context?  Can it open both drawings and assemblies? Can you take measurements easily?  Is there a mechanism for redlining, or shop notes?  Especially in a 3D model, can comments get added that engineering can review simply by opening the model?  Are their 3rd party software solutions that would do this better?