92 Replies Latest reply on Feb 10, 2018 1:08 PM by John Stoltzfus

    large assembly best practice.

    Jim Steinmeyer

      I am getting ready to start a new large assembly and before I do I am pondering the most effective - least troublesome- method of organizing it.

           A few background points.

      • We manufacture large agricultural equipment (feeder mixers) that can come in 3 base options: mounted on a truck, mounted on a trailer, and mounted stationary on a concrete pad.
      • Of these mixers we have say 6 distinct family lines basically based on size and mixing style.
      • In any particular family line the body of the mixer can have 8-10 different variations depending on right or left feed, stainless or mild steel,1/4" or 3/8" steel ect.
      • On these different families there can be numerous options that may or may not cross family or base option lines. The example I am currently working on involves the hydraulic package for one of the larger truck mounted mixers. The hydraulics can be powered by a unit on the front of the truck or one mounted on the rear of the cab. Of course there are several different packages that require different hydraulic setups for either front or rear mounted systems.
      • Then there are the options like decals that would be the same on all 3 base options for each family.
      • As you can see the permeations can get to be in the thousands.

       

           Typically we have just created a new assembly for each new task, like I would pull a truck, add the mixer shell, set them in an envelope and start adding the hydraulic components. But is that the best way? Would it be better to have a base unit, say a truck with the feeder body on it to which all of the different options are assembled? That way you would be able to find all of the options and you would be able to know if they interfered with each other or not. On the other hand, man would that be a huge model and without PDM we might have problems with someone else in part of the model. ( we are already having those problems).

           then again, when the different options are in separate models we sometimes find ourselves trying to assemble different options together and find, say, 6 feeder bodies on top of each other in the assembly. Big potential for circular references.

       

      So how do others out there deal with large assemblies with different product lines? Should I stay the course with hundreds of smaller assemblies? Or should I look to a larger Master Model? Or is there a better idea that I haven't thought of?

        • Re: large assembly best practice.
          Søren Stærk

          Maybe this can help - downloade the slide on the right side

          Best Practices for Large Assembly Management in SOLIDWORKS 2017

          • Re: large assembly best practice.
            Steven Richmond

            Hi Jim,

             

            A few pointers that I've found to improve large assemblies.

             

            • Use sub assemblies and therefore reduce the amount of mates. The less mates there are then the less rebuilding.
            • Parts and assemblies set to lightweight
            • Look at speedpac configs for existing assemblies that you are looking to bring in.

             

            The fact that you are using configs then I'd have a look at Driveworks as well. All just depends really on what you are using the final completed assembly for.

             

            regards

            Stevie

            • Re: large assembly best practice.
              Sergio Monti

              When dealing with large assemblies, I found working better and faster to mate the sub-assemblies in the top-level assembly using, where possible,  reference planes instead of faces or features belonging to down-level parts.

              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                John Stoltzfus

                Push information down, meaning any controlling relations must come from within the part or a part or sketch higher then the part in the feature tree, never reach down for information, SW isn't built for that, way to many rebuild issues..

                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                  Scott Stuart

                  We also make equipment that can have thousands of permutations depending on options. Our standard procedure is to model the base frame and subassemblies as separate models, and the subassemblies that mount to the base frame never include the base frame itself (sometime's it's included for reference, but suppressed). We use assembly templates with reference planes that have meaning to the design of the machine (the floor, the infeed elevation, the outfeed elevation, etc.). We model all subassemblies using that template and mate the subassembly components to those reference planes to get them positioned properly relative to the where the frame would be. The template also includes mate references, so that when we are building up a top level machine assembly we can drag and drop the base frame and subassemblies into the top level model and the subassemblies all snap into place (no manual mating).

                   

                  We did attempt to have "master machine assemblies" with all options included, but those quickly became too unwieldy to work with. We found the mate reference method much better in the long run. When developing a new option for a machine it's often better to just bring in the few subassemblies you need to design around, and don't necessarily want the entire machine anyway.

                   

                  For the times when we do need to create a full machine assembly with every subassembly even the drag and drop method can be too tedious for a machine that contains a hundred subassemblies, so I wrote a macro in an Excel spreadsheet that will take the bill of materials and auto-mate the full assembly based on the mates references used in the subassembly.

                   

                  I hope that gives you some ideas to work with.

                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                      Jim Steinmeyer

                      Scott,

                      This is pretty much what I have found in the past. I have tried a couple of "total assemblies" and they can really bog down the system.

                      There are two things I really need to take time to learn and that is Macros and Top Down Master Sketches. John Stoltzfus has been preaching so loud that I need to revisit this idea. The few ventures I have had with Master Sketches have helped but here with mating fittings to bolt holes that may move with different configurations I am having a hard time figuring out how to accomplish it.  DriveWorks is something I may have to learn about too. I have never gotten beyond hearing it's name and that it helps with automation and thought, "wow, that could be helpful but sounds like I will need to learn some more software."

                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                          Deepak Gupta

                          Check with Alin Vargatu and he can give you lot of good advises.

                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                            John Stoltzfus

                            Jim Steinmeyer - you can choose your method anytime, is it top down - bottom up or inside out..  The only thing I really want to harp on is try to get an understanding how SW rebuilds files, and look closely at how and where you place driving components such as sketches, planes, axis and other driving components. 

                             

                            Just do yourself a favor when adding a component and look where the relations need to come from, always reach up for information, in other words, Part 1 would be the first part in the feature tree and when you get to add Part 10, don't put anything in Part 10 to drive Part 6, pull from Part 6 to drive Part 10, that's perfectly ok...  Add reference planes and other helpers like Scott Stuart mentions...

                             

                            The Skeleton Sketch Part is only a there to assist you for any changes, not nearly as necessary as where you pull information from... 

                             

                            Change your Assembly Template so you have the ability to create controlling sketches up high in the feature tree, those work just as well as the SSP, however they would only control what's in that assembly, the SSP acts more in a Global sense...

                             

                            Keep it simple, easy to make something over complicated, where nobody knows what's going on except you....

                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                Jim Steinmeyer

                                John Stoltzfus wrote:

                                 

                                Keep it simple, easy to make something over complicated, where nobody knows what's going on except you....

                                That has definitely bit me in the past when using someone else's top down assembly.

                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                    John Stoltzfus

                                    Jim Steinmeyer wrote:

                                     

                                    John Stoltzfus wrote:

                                     

                                    Keep it simple, easy to make something over complicated, where nobody knows what's going on except you....

                                    That has definitely bit me in the past when using someone else's top down assembly.

                                     

                                    One of the simple ways to make it more user friendly is to name Sketches and name Controlling Dimensions and to be consistent in how you approach the design, that way there's a trail to follow. 

                                     

                                    Did you know that "If" you use a SSP and have it organized like I mentioned then you can right click on the Equations,  Manage Equations, then filter all the dimensions within the SSP and you can change the dimensions with in the Equation Editor,  right there without needing to open all the different sketches and different parts, after you hit ok everything changes according to the new values...

                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                    Jim Steinmeyer

                                    What would I need to do to change the template? Usually if I need a controlling sketch I will drag the rollback bar up to where I need it and then put the sketch in. Is there a faster/easier method?

                                      • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                        Alin Vargatu

                                        Jim Steinmeyer wrote:

                                         

                                        What would I need to do to change the template? Usually if I need a controlling sketch I will drag the rollback bar up to where I need it and then put the sketch in. Is there a faster/easier method?

                                        There is very important where that skeleton sketch is positioned. Is it in the tree above the mates folder, or below?

                                         

                                        If you create it first, as fixed or mated to the assembly planes or origin, it will be above the mates folder. If you create it after a component was inserted, you will suffer. See below.

                                         

                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                            Jim Steinmeyer

                                            OK, apparently I have never tried this with assemblies so I just did. I often pull the rollback bar up in parts but I just tried in an assembly and while it went above the features added in the assembly it would not go above the mates.

                                             

                                            I keep learning new things today. I better go home before my head explodes!

                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                          Alin Vargatu

                                          John Stoltzfus wrote:

                                           

                                           

                                           

                                          Just do yourself a favor when adding a component and look where the relations need to come from, always reach up for information, in other words, Part 1 would be the first part in the feature tree and when you get to add Part 10, don't put anything in Part 10 to drive Part 6, pull from Part 6 to drive Part 10, that's perfectly ok... Add reference planes and other helpers like Scott Stuart mentions...

                                           

                                           

                                           

                                           

                                          Interesting. Did you find that the order of components in the assembly tree makes a difference? I ask, because in theory there is no history above the mate folder (for components).

                                           

                                          If you want to see the order of operations at the assembly level, turn on the visibility of the Update Holders. It will reveal what happens when the assembly is rebuilt, after the mates are solved the first time.

                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                              John Stoltzfus

                                              Yes - according to Frank Ruepp - see https://forum.solidworks.com/message/729015#comment-729015

                                               

                                              and.... here is what I put together

                                               

                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                  Alin Vargatu

                                                  Sketches yes, components no.

                                                   

                                                  You can drag up or down any components located above the mates folder, with no effect on the rebuild time or performance.

                                                  Some users even use macros for ordering these components alphabetically.

                                                   

                                                  Below the mates folder, the order counts. But keep in mid, that you will see the order, only if you show the Update Holders.

                                                   

                                                   

                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                      John Stoltzfus

                                                      So just make this clear, are you saying that I can have sketches in Part 10 control Part 1, if the parts are in sequential order and there won't be any rebuild issues?  Is that New for 2017 - how about older versions, where is the cutoff?

                                                       

                                                      Rebuild issues come from Circular Rebuilds and Circular Rebuilds come from parts driving parts that are out of order, or am I confused again..

                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                          Alin Vargatu

                                                          John Stoltzfus wrote:

                                                           

                                                          So just make this clear, are you saying that I can have sketches in Part 10 control Part 1, if the parts are in sequential order and there won't be any rebuild issues? Is that New for 2017 - how about older versions, where is the cutoff?

                                                           

                                                          Rebuild issues come from Circular Rebuilds and Circular Rebuilds come from parts driving parts that are out of order, or am I confused again..

                                                          The order of the parts in the tree does not matter. What matters is the flow of information. only one part should drive another.

                                                           

                                                          So if Part 10 drives Part 1, that is fine, unless you decide add a feature that would drive Part 10 from Part 1. Then things become interesting.

                                                           

                                                          Also, I agree with you, John Stoltzfus in regards to having the skeleton sketch(es) located in a component, not directly in the assembly.

                                                           

                                                          I usually save all skeleton sketches in a part and have that part inserted as an envelope in all subassemblies and assemblies.

                                                           

                                                          Grant Mattis has great examples of how well this approach works.

                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                              Jim Steinmeyer

                                                              Alin Vargatu wrote:

                                                               

                                                              Also, I agree with you, John Stoltzfus in regards to having the skeleton sketch(es) located in a component, not directly in the assembly.

                                                               

                                                              I usually save all skeleton sketches in a part and have that part inserted as an envelope in all subassemblies and assemblies.

                                                               

                                                              Grant Mattis has great examples of how well this approach works.

                                                              Now I need clarification. Are you saying that it is best to not have just a sketch in the beginning on the template but better to have the sketch in a part that could be added at any time since the order of the parts doesn't matter? Could that part be a virtual part?

                                                               

                                                              Now I am looking forward to Grant Mattis joining the discussion. I would like to see an example.

                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                  Alin Vargatu

                                                                  Jim Steinmeyer wrote:

                                                                   

                                                                  Alin Vargatu wrote:

                                                                   

                                                                  Also, I agree with you, John Stoltzfus in regards to having the skeleton sketch(es) located in a component, not directly in the assembly.

                                                                   

                                                                  I usually save all skeleton sketches in a part and have that part inserted as an envelope in all subassemblies and assemblies.

                                                                   

                                                                  Grant Mattis has great examples of how well this approach works.

                                                                  Now I need clarification. Are you saying that it is best to not have just a sketch in the beginning on the template but better to have the sketch in a part that could be added at any time since the order of the parts doesn't matter? Could that part be a virtual part?

                                                                   

                                                                  Now I am looking forward to Grant Mattis joining the discussion. I would like to see an example.

                                                                  That is correct. The skeleton component (part or assembly) could be added at any time. I would still move it to the top of the tree, for ease of use only. Actually I would include it in the Favorite Folder also.

                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                    Alin Vargatu

                                                                    John Stoltzfus wrote:

                                                                     

                                                                    Which Grant Mattis or this one Grant Mattis?

                                                                    Thanks, John!

                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                      Grant Mattis

                                                                      I heard my name but I only received notifications from one. I'm sure the other account is me too but not sure what e-mail address it goes to. I have been busy lately so not much chance to read here. Let me read through this over lunch and see what I can add.

                                                                       

                                                                      Grant

                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                          John Stoltzfus

                                                                          Thanks Grant - can't wait to hear what you got to say... I've struggled plenty with assemblies in the past..

                                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                              Grant Mattis

                                                                              I could write pages on these topics and how to choose where to start but I really don't have time right now. I will try to chime in when I have something to add though. This post is mostly about things to do or watch out for with SSP method. There was another thread a little while ago that was similar to this so I might see if I can link that in too.

                                                                               

                                                                              -Like John said make sure your information only flows one way or you will have major issues.

                                                                              -If you are using the SSP method like the name says this should be a part not a sketch or sketches in an assembly.

                                                                              -If using SSP ensure you insert your SSP in each assembly. Then parts within that assembly only reference that skeleton part. (Never reference the skeleton part from any other assembly!) Use Isolate to ensure this does not happen.

                                                                              - Scott Stuart makes some very good suggestions below but watch your flow of information. Also see Alin Vargatu's post above. (I copied the important picture here too on ensuring good information flow.)

                                                                              - I would not drive the skeleton sketch from anything else as it will most likely cause major slow downs when inserted into multiple assemblies.

                                                                              - If you use SSP method you can have multiple people working on different sub assemblies all with the SSP inserted in them but really watch what you are doing if not on PDM.

                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                               

                                                                              I will see if I can find a SSP that I can show here without IP issues. For reference our SSP often have 50+ sketches and x3+ as many planes so the level of complexity is high but good labeling and color coding really help keep everything as simple and easy to find as possible. This really is a difficult topic to convey with words. Too bad there isn't a yearly conference that we could all met at to discuss things like this. Now if I can just get my company to send me...

                                                                               

                                                                              Grant

                                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                  Grant Mattis

                                                                                  This is the thread that I was thinking about. You will need to read down into the thread where John Stoltzfus is posting about different methods and options for the OP to get the desired result. Configurations Question

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Grant

                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                    John Stoltzfus

                                                                                    I'll look forward for more info and any SSP to share would be awesome, as here I mostly am working with contract designs or in house future trends, sharing any of them wouldn't be good for us.  I do have a sample assembly that I've been working on, still needs completion, also Matt Peneguy has put together more of a picture by picture - screen by screen how to..

                                                                                     

                                                                                    The issue for me isn't for anyone to think my way is the only way, I'm just sharing what works and if there are any misconstrued comments or directions I would like to know so my information could be changed..

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Totally agree with you below:

                                                                                    Grant Mattis wrote:

                                                                                    I could write pages on these topics and how to choose where to start

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Sometimes I cringe when I read the Problems people are having here on the Forum, while I am able to produce design after design, while having almost zero issues, and those issues are mostly self inflicted even though there are screams of ONE and TWO

                                                                                     

                                                                                    What I have tried to focus on was the process, the design intent side of design, anyone should be able to take the information that I put together and tailor it for their individual needs so their system can be optimized. 

                                                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                            Grant Mattis

                                                                            Interesting John Stoltzfus & Alin Vargatu our procedure using SSP was that the SSP must be the first item in an assembly. I believed there was a reason behind this but now I need to test this. It should be an easy test I just need to find time.

                                                                             

                                                                            Grant

                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                John Stoltzfus

                                                                                Grant Mattis wrote:

                                                                                I believed there was a reason behind this but now I need to test this. It should be an easy test I just need to find time.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Grant

                                                                                 

                                                                                The only way for clean rebuilds - any other option will create excessive Traffic Lights and the potential for a major Forrest Fire in your Feature Tree.

                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                    Grant Mattis

                                                                                    Quick end of day test. I opened an assembly with around 200 parts that reference the SSP I should see a difference in rebuild time or errors if it is going to be present. Moving the SSP from the top of the tree to the bottom of the tree just above mates had no effect positive or negative on the model. Rebuild time is the same, model operation is the same and no errors in the model red or yellow. I might need to dive a little deeper into this one and see what happens when I make changes to parts with the SSP at the bottom of the tree.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Grant

                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                    Todd Blacksher

                                                                    On the extremely RARE occasion that I have the opportunity to actually do some "planning" prior to jumping in to a project, I really like to "rough out" the sub-assemblies and the structure in Treehouse.  I'm only scratching the surface of what it can do, but it really helps me visualize which subs are "shared" and which ones are "unique".  Earlier this year I did a family of products that had about 16 different varieties, but several of the components were "shared" - Treehouse really helped me find the best way to organize and re-use sub-assemblies, as well as figuring out the best places to make the assemblies "unique".

                                                                     

                                                                    Once I have my battle plan, then I crack open SOLIDWORKS.

                                                                    (about half way through the project I will usually see something on the forums that makes me re-think everything I've already done.)

                                                                     

                                                                    For me, having a sensible sub-assembly strategy is key to making everything work smoothly - when you can easily swap out subs, life gets so much easier.

                                                                     

                                                                    Dig into John Stoltzfus Skeleton Sketch Part information, it is freaking AMAZING!  I am hoping to really get into it and play around this weekend - I can't wait!

                                                                     

                                                                    todd

                                                                      • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                        Matt Peneguy

                                                                        Todd Blacksher,

                                                                        I created a very simple walk through in the pdf linked in the first post at Skeleton Sketch Part Method for Large Assemblies.  It is a very basic example, but I used a few techniques that John Stoltzfus showed me, such as using Isolate, which makes things so much easier.  I hope it gets you off to a good start.

                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                          Grant Mattis

                                                                          Todd I would like to hear more about how you used Treehouse. I think it could be an amazing tool but it just has not worked for me like I want it to. A programmer rarely starts a major program without a flow chart but we as designers are often expected to just know and have that ever changing structure in our heads. Treehouse should be the solution to that but I have not seen it work like I expect yet.

                                                                           

                                                                          Grant

                                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                              Todd Blacksher

                                                                              Like I said, I have barely scratched the surface with Treehouse, but the thing that I like the most is that I can work out my subs & part numbering in a graphical manner.  I don't put all of the parts into Treehouse, it is mainly to see how the subs will "stack up".  I can usually see potential issues with numbering or mixing "unique" and "common" subs when I have them all on the screen.

                                                                              This is an incredibly condensed version of one that I did:

                                                                              In a nutshell, it is a series of assemblies representing a "family" of products -

                                                                              There are 4 different "sizes" available, 2 of these "sizes" also have versions that are capable of printing, and all of these sizes are available in different electrical requirements (50Hz or 60Hz).

                                                                              The "extended family" has (12) unique top level assemblies (I think I originally said (16) - oops!)

                                                                              The image above shows the two "sizes" that are capable of printing, as well as the electrical options for these two.

                                                                              This ends up giving me (4) different "top level assemblies" - the lone item at the top is just so I know which "family" this is . . .

                                                                              There are a LOT of sub-assemblies below what is shown here, but this is all that I really needed to see for what I was setting up.

                                                                              I have a sub that is shared for the two different electrical versions of each "size", I have a sub that is shared for the two different "sizes" of each electrical version, and I have individual parts that are unique to each main assembly - confusing right?

                                                                               

                                                                              Somehow putting it into a graphical format just seemed to help me see where tweaks needed to be made.  The other family was much bigger and more in depth, but since there were subs shared between that family and this one, I was able to truncate this chart down to what you see here.  (I did the other one first, and it was much messier.)

                                                                              I know that I can export all of this information from Treehouse into SOLIDWORKS, but I just used it as a roadmap for planning.

                                                                               

                                                                              I'd like to dig into it even deeper when I get a chance - I've played around with it since the SOLIDWORKS Labs days, so I was really excited to see it become a part of the standard installation.

                                                                               

                                                                              todd

                                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                  Grant Mattis

                                                                                  Thanks Todd. I dug into Treehouse for about 1/2 a day around 1 year ago and wasn't able to find much documentation or youtube video's on anything more then basic functionality. Not near enough time but when it didn't do a couple of the key things I was hoping for I had to move on to other things.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  -I know I can build the tree in treehouse and then export it into SW but I want the treehouse tree to update as I build or drop items into the assembly too. The tree would be live, I think this could be done with having PDM.

                                                                                  - Using the SSP method I want to be able to assign my sub assemblies, drop the required skeleton sketch, drop many blank parts into that sub assembly, have part naming (sequential within the job) and mating completed (fixed origin to origin). I know some of this can be done with macro's and that is one of my development projects in the future.

                                                                                  - If the Treehouse tree was live I would even like to use it to help determine what assemblies I want to open. (If I didn't already have a high level assembly open. Might become totally obsolete in SW2018 with the updated large assembly mode.)

                                                                                   

                                                                                  If I get to SWW2018 maybe I can track down the produce definition manager for Treehouse and make some suggestion that will help my company.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Grant

                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                      Todd Blacksher

                                                                                      I think Michael Newell might be the guy that you are looking for, but I am not positive.

                                                                                      todd

                                                                                      • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                        Matt Peneguy

                                                                                        Grant Mattis,

                                                                                        Great points!  Using the SSP method is unnecessarily cumbersome.  Better tools would be welcomed by me, for sure.

                                                                                        Once again, I am not able to give more than 1 like to a post that I really like.

                                                                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                            Grant Mattis

                                                                                            Thanks Matt. I fully agree about lacking tools for SSP modeling. We are working on 3 pieces of scope for 1 job right now averaging over 5k unique parts in each. We learned a few things that helped speed us up recently. We used to put 3 mates in for each part. We calculated that was at least 2.5 days on each scope to put in very basic mates. For SSP that is no value added to the job.

                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                Matt Peneguy

                                                                                                Good point about the mates. John Stoltzfus pointed out to me that you can insert a new part in an assembly and click on the front plane and it creates an in-place mate, which is even quicker and simpler than mating origins.  You may look into that, too.

                                                                                                For your workflow it sounds like maybe macros could save you some time.  But, that is a bit over my head... I have played with them, but I am not a programmer...Well, I'm definitely not a good programmer.

                                                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                  John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                  Really curious on the mating comments Grant - I make it a must to find ways to reduce the amount of mates, if you look close enough most times ("Most Times") you only need two mates...  Using the SSP correctly eliminates tons of mates and there are no mates for any of the original in context parts, the others could be handle maybe with patterns, etc..... 

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Simple explanation is if you have two different sized rectangular components, you only need two mates not three to lock them in, look for two edges and mate them coincident, don't select faces, select edges, and if by chance you can't line up two edges then use two sketches one in each part. 

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Excessive mating bogs down SW and gives people other issues..............

                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                      Grant Mattis

                                                                                                      I have fairly recently started at my current employer and while I thought there was a better way to be mating in SSP I wasn't pushing the issue as it was a very firmly held believe that mating the 3 main planes was the only way to avoid update issues. We recently got past that issue, with the help of a contracted SW problem hunter, and now have no mates on our parts that are created from the SSP. We are too close to the end of our current job to really see the benefit but when we start the next one I fully expect to.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      Thanks for your feedback John.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      Grant

                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                      Alin Vargatu

                                                                                                      Grant Mattis wrote:

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      Thanks Matt. I fully agree about lacking tools for SSP modeling. We are working on 3 pieces of scope for 1 job right now averaging over 5k unique parts in each. We learned a few things that helped speed us up recently. We used to put 3 mates in for each part. We calculated that was at least 2.5 days on each scope to put in very basic mates. For SSP that is no value added to the job.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      7.5 days of mindless full time mating? Thanks for this priceless feedback.

                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      Getting rid of these mates translates in an amazing time saving.

                                                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                          John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                          Alin Vargatu wrote:

                                                                                                          7.5 days of mindless full time mating? Thanks for this priceless feedback.

                                                                                                           

                                                                                                          LOL - No wonder we couldn't find Grant - he was kaput......

                                                                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                              Grant Mattis

                                                                                                              Repeat after me. Insert part mate front, front, top, top ,right, right repeat five thousand times.....

                                                                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                  John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                  lol- That would take me all day typing that..

                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                  Without seeing a layout or a picture of what you're trying to do, it's really hard to wrap my head around your situation.  Just seeing that sentence and how your mating, that would be 15,000 mates and first place of business for me would be to eliminate 5000 right off the top, for that type of mating you only need two coincident mates, if you add two one simple sketch in your part and assembly templates...

                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                  Plus if you're workflow consists of having to mate to those three planes, then you need to have all your base extrude sketches off the side, etc.. and if that's the case using the SSP there are no mates for those components, they are all brought in fixed to the same coordinates, doesn't matter where they are within the assembly.  That would eliminate another large chunk of Mates, that amount would be in a direct relation to the amount of individual components.   Furthermore if you have any of the 5000 components that you could pattern, that would again eliminate mates..

                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                  Don't get me wrong on this, I'm not trying to say you're doing it the wrong way, it's just that looking at your responses and comparing it to the workflow that I use I get confused, because eliminating mates is key to any large assembly and there are simple easy methods to do so..

                                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                      Grant Mattis

                                                                                                                      We were doing it wrong plain and simple but we are on the right track now. Our models should be much faster for it too. I point it out more so that no one else falls into the same trap.

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                      With SSP there is almost no need for mates!  You can fix nearly all components in place. You might still need some mates if you mix standard parts into your SSP model.

                                                                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                          John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                          Grant Mattis wrote:

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          We were doing it wrong plain and simple but we are on the right track now. Our models should be much faster for it too. I point it out more so that no one else falls into the same trap.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          With SSP there is almost no need for mates! You can fix nearly all components in place. You might still need some mates if you mix standard parts into your SSP model.

                                                                                                                          Awesome -

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          Interchangeable components create weird observations for those not using the SSP, yes they can create an issue "If" you don't have a plan.. 

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          Here is the rule that I use for purchased items only, (if you need to model the outer shell etc), you draw it centered in a part file all by itself with no outside references, such as motors, drive train components, bearings, hardware etc...

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          Model specific interchangeable component that would be used in multiple sub-assemblies, use the information in the SSP to create the part within (1) one Sub-Assembly, the furthermost one to the top. Then if it's needed in subsequent assemblies, just drop it in and mate just like any other component.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          I do want to share this - even though I was using the SSP process for a while and trying to refine it as I go along, and everything that I tried you would've thought I know pretty much everything there was to know..  I want to confess this, one of my worst models happened only about 3-4 months ago.  Looking at it - it was simple, however there was additional detail needed after certain parts were in place etc, and I thought it would be easier to just add sketches in the assembly file rather then changing the SSP.  That move more then cost me, made me want to crush the model, horrible rebuilds, slow opening times almost 1.5 minues, (it had less then 20 components), rebuild traffic lights etc., showing broken sketch links.  I was almost sure it had to do with the SW rebuild process and then Frank Ruepp pointed it out in a post here on the forum.. Since then I corrected the assembly, figured out what I needed to modify in the SSP, now the assembly opens in split seconds, drawing is instant...  So the conclusion is watch your trail of controlling info, and eliminate as many mates as possible..

                                                                                                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                            Jim Steinmeyer

                                                                                                                            Grant Mattis wrote:

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            if you mix standard parts into your SSP model.

                                                                                                                            can you please explain this concept? Standard as opposed to .....

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            To my way of thinking fixing parts in an assembly is the worst kind of evil reserved for the most drastic of measures. What happens when the size of other parts grow or shrink? Or the design changes and things move. The fixed part is left hanging in the air because in reality it is a totally independent entity with no relation to the assembly. Then if the design changes you need to go through the whole design and float/ re-position/ re-fix all of the components. There goes any time savings you ever had. Maybe if all of your parts are unique to an individual assembly they can be created in-context being offset from the datum planes but if you are using parts that are used in multiple assemblies you would only be able to fix it in one assembly and then the rest could interesting.

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            This is all prefaced with "unless you have a better way which I am totally unaware of" which is entirely possible. This is why I started this thread. I know there has to be a better way that I don't yet understand.

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            One of the challenges I have with using the SSP method ,as I understand it, is that I am reluctant to allow external references. I will use them for initial design or for virtual parts that stay in the assembly but as a rule I will break them after initial design. The reason for this being that once a part is sent to the shop I need it in a fixed state where it does not change without a revision created. I have seen too many times when an engineer will make some changes without realizing all of the parts effected. If a part is related through an external reference you have no idea that the origination part size will not fit until you get to assembly on the shop floor. Then the STUPID ENGINEERS never hear the end of what they did wrong. I have a hard enough time avoiding that stigma as it is.

                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                            Long story short, I know there are advantages to SSP, I just don't understand it well enough.

                                                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                                Jim Steinmeyer wrote:

                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                To my way of thinking fixing parts in an assembly is the worst kind of evil reserved for the most drastic of measures. What happens when the size of other parts grow or shrink? Or the design changes and things move. The fixed part is left hanging in the air because in reality it is a totally independent entity with no relation to the assembly. Then if the design changes you need to go through the whole design and float/ re-position/ re-fix all of the components. There goes any time savings you ever had. Maybe if all of your parts are unique to an individual assembly they can be created in-context being offset from the datum planes but if you are using parts that are used in multiple assemblies you would only be able to fix it in one assembly and then the rest could interesting.

                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                One thing at a time

                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                Understanding the "Fixed" items in the SSP - The SSP is the "Master" the Part is the "Slave"

                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                The SSP process consists of parts that are elastic parametric stretchable shrinkable expanding contracting up down in out right left, in other words they move in a controlled slow dance and the part has a partner and that is the SSP.  Even though the Part shows fixed in the feature tree it can move, but only if the SSP is altered/changed, the Part is a slave of the SSP...  Also - with all those parts showing fixed in the feature tree, if you change the overall plan view and since the SSP controls everything you change the proper sketch in the SSP and now the SSP grabs all the parts and gently but quickly move them to another position or size... Not in a disarray like you envision....

                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                The process to adding a part to the assembly is - Insert/New Component, then I have it save the part and then I select the Front Plane as my insertion position, then I close out of that sketch and pick a sketch where I want the part built, select that plane and convert or trace the outline sketch that pertains to the part and the extrude.   Now suppose that part needs to be changed, you change the sketch in the SSP and the part will rebuild correctly...

                                                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                    John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                    Only as cumbersome as you make it Matt Peneguy - but totally agree that it can be cumbersome and it takes more "Design Intent" input and that is where Grant Mattis is correct in using a revamped Treehouse to create an awesome assembly..

                                                                                                                      • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                        Matt Peneguy

                                                                                                                        John Stoltzfus,

                                                                                                                        I don't think that came across as I intended it.  What I was trying to get across is that there has been all of this focus on "new features", but the SSP method has apparently been around for a while and it appears no focus has been given to provide better tools to develop assemblies with this method.  The only thing I can think of is the 3D Grid tool.  But that is still in its infancy and is supposed to be for the building industry.

                                                                                                                        I haven't been working in this method for long enough to develop skills to rapidly do much at all.  I know there is a payoff at the end, but it is slow going vs. the old way of doing things.  As Grant Mattis pointed out, when dealing with large assemblies that extra time really adds up.

                                                                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                              Scott Stuart

                                                                                                              It is worth noting that the "skeleton sketch part" and the "assembly template with reference planes and mate references" are two similar concepts and can complement each other. It's not one or the other. The skeleton sketch is great for clean slate design in the beginning of a project, and the assembly template is good for long term sustainabililty of a product line. For a one-off design, or a design with relatively few options, all you probably need is a skeleton sketch, but for a large product line with lots of options, like what OP seems to be describing, the assembly template will make managing/maintaining the designs easier in the long run. On a large product line, don't wait until late in the design to try to implement the master template, since the longer you wait the more subassemblies you will have to go back and update to have the reference planes and mate references.

                                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                Ok - Attached is a simple Cabinet model, I did eventually want to add more detail and also the drawing files that go with it, but I don't have that detail completed yet.

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                There are a few things I want to highlight or point out with the attached SW2017 model....

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                1. Colored Sketches
                                                                                                                2. Labeled Folders in the Feature Tree
                                                                                                                3. Labeled Sketch Planes and Sketches
                                                                                                                4. SSP is the top part in every Sub-Assembly

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                Try this....  Do a pack & go on the attached model and save it else where and then extract the pack & go file and open one of the assemblies, delete any part in the feature tree, what happens..... Make a new Assembly and insert assemblies 1 through 4 take note what happens...  Isolate and edit the Sketch Part, then edit the equations, filter the dimensions and change dimensions and see what happens, some will error out because of extending beyond the limits...  Take note to the sketch relations...

                                                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                    Grant Mattis

                                                                                                                    John thanks for attaching this sample part. It will be much easier for everyone to understand now. It is a future version for me but from what I can see and everything you describe we are working with very close to the exact same method.

                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                    Grant

                                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                      Todd Blacksher

                                                                                                                      This is awesome!

                                                                                                                      I don't know if you would be able to use the "Up to Reference" pattern for your angled screw cutouts, but it might be something to play around with when you have time.

                                                                                                                      I attached a quick & dirty example of what I'm talking about, just edit one of the "sides" in the assembly and use Instant 3D to drag the overall length.

                                                                                                                      Just a thought,

                                                                                                                      Can't wait to dig into this some more when I have time!

                                                                                                                      todd

                                                                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                          John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                          As long as the SSP controls the outcome anything is possible. 

                                                                                                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                            Grant Mattis

                                                                                                                            With SSP modeling you have to be very aware of external references. That is why isolate is so important as often you might be editing a component from a higher assembly and accidently link a sub assembly part outside of that sub assembly. If that happens SW performance goes in the toilet. You can get away with some incontext relationships within the same sub assembly but the easy general rule is no incontext relationships to anything other then the SSP.

                                                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                Todd Blacksher

                                                                                                                                Like John said, as long as it is within the SSP (which may require some extra work), it "should" be good to go.

                                                                                                                                - As it currently is, unless there is an equation or something else driving the pattern quantity, a significant change in overall size could result in an issue of too many or too few of the features (in this case the angled cutout for the screw.)

                                                                                                                                I haven't tried incorporating anything like this into an SSP design, so I don't know how well it would work, but I thought there might be some potential, so I wanted to share a rough sample to plant the idea in his head.

                                                                                                                                (I like to throw out wild ideas, and see what people do with them - it's a bit of an "odd" hobby, but I think it is fun!)

                                                                                                                                todd

                                                                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                    John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                                    Todd Blacksher - My goal was to perfect a process so that every project has the same potential, so my main focus has been on the basics, making sure that the design/model falls under the SW rebuild process, plus making sure the driving information has a good foundation and that you don't try and reach to far for information.

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                    I'm convinced that when you reach up the Feature Tree there are no limits, however problems start when you have configurations of different components that have additional information required from other parts that are loaded with configurations, that is where things start breaking down quickly.

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                    Just watch the forum, to me that is the story, why do people have issues, (Sure I know all about ONE and TWO there are some viable issues), however I still will go down the road where I say most issues that you see are self inflicted, and there are plenty of people that want to alienate that comment, but I know the difference.  Know the limits, understand the process, and like Matt Peneguy says, "Train the Brain".

                                                                                                                                      • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                        Todd Blacksher

                                                                                                                                        I wholeheartedly agree - a conservative estimate would be that 80-85% of my "issues" are caused by something I did that came back to haunt me later - I view this as a "learning opportunity".

                                                                                                                                        It's very easy to blame the software, and I've found that few people will ever really dig into the issue to see if it was something they did, let alone admit that there was a chance that they may have "created" the issue during their design process.

                                                                                                                                        t

                                                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                      Matt Peneguy

                                                                                                                                      One of the things you can also do is change the colors of items being edited in the feature tree to show as a bright color.  I also changed the color of the part being edited from the default.

                                                                                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                  Eric Kelly

                                                                                                                                  Guys, I just didn't have time this evening to read through all of the responses, so this may be a repeat of someone else, but, we also design large equipment with full wiring controls, sensors, hydraulic and pneumatic routing, purchased parts, etc.  What we started out doing was large sub assemblies called modules and inside the modules were one step down weldments.  So our BOM was never more than 3 deep.  We had very intelligent mating, well defined and labeled and then one day, a module no longer lined up.  the module in question was a mix of a large purchased part and some multibody weldments.  Try as I could being the cad manager, I could not figure out where the movement occurred, was it an updated package from the vendor with slightly different geometry, did one of the mating surfaces move, did one of our contractors do something?  The movement was 1/4" in the X direction.  We would love to use a PDM, but we are the future of cad and have a distributed workforce.  No good environment exists where we can collaborate and still use a PDM, and being a contract distributed workforce, certainly means that we can't afford to each buy into some sort of locally installed PDM or ERP system, so we run it manually and we are very polite.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  We had to decide collectively how to keep this from happening again as well as maintain a way to break out work for each contractor being a part of the large project.

                                                                                                                                  We decided on a benchmark approach.  We have an absolute point in space; 0,0,0 of the top level assembly is our benchmark.  We have an online spreadsheet that all contractors have access to and we have recorded how far away in absolute coordinates each module is from the benchmark (thier Top, Front and Side planes)  All of the mates have been converted to distance mates as recorded in the spreadsheet and have been labeled "benchmark Top Plane - 0.75 Module 1" or some similar nomenclature.  All contractors have been notified via engineering meeting that those mates are to NEVER be touched.  Further, we have similar information on each Module as to how it has been tied to it's respective origin.  This way, I as the cad manager, can very quickly ensure that no modules have been moved when we have a problem and I can then isolate the problem to either a vendor file in the case of a purchased part spec changing or I can look up what contractor was working on the model last and see what exactly the were doing when the problem occurred.  We rely heavily on dropbox for "versioning" and plan on using dropbox business with some sort of read only schema to provide a better gateway for model overwrite control.  This has worked for about a year now thru a few contractors and we haven't had too many hickups.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  Eric

                                                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                      Wojciech Paterski

                                                                                                                                      Not on topic, but explain why can't u use PDM? I tought it's for that sole purpose, so u can work from it wherever u are in the world?

                                                                                                                                      Or am I wrong?

                                                                                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                          Jim Steinmeyer

                                                                                                                                          This would interest me as well.

                                                                                                                                          With PDM while the overall assembly resides in the vault the manager could lock it and not allow anyone to make changes to the distance mates. Then a engineer could check out their respective module and edit it before then checking it in. This checked out module would reside on the satellite PC and could actually have the rest of the assembly with it in a read only format. Seems exactly like what Eric Kelly is describing without all of the book-work to control it. Then it would have the added benefit of being able to roll back to a previous version if something bad does happen.

                                                                                                                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                            Eric Kelly

                                                                                                                                            the problem is file location, every time you want to work on a module, you would have to download megabytes of info and once you lock the files for use, no one else can enter that module.  There are times where you have lets say module A checked out and it has subassemblies 1,2 and 3.  You need to modify subassembly 3 but need to have the entire module checked out so you don't build out into the space for subassemblies 1 or 2.  I would like to do a minor change on subassembly 1 that will not affect you but you have it checked out as part of module A.  More importantly, the file uploading and downloading is a huge problem when your files are large.  We do everything as multibody, so our files tend to be on the larger side.

                                                                                                                                            By having a traffic cop (me)  I can pass the "football" so to speak from contractor to contractor quickly.  Everyone on the team has dropbox and has the box checked that says "open referenced documents with read-only access" as well as the one that discards changes on saving for read only docs (under external references in opotions).  With dropbox, they always have a synchronized local copy so no downloading from teh web or a vpn to a server.  We back up every 30 days to DVD and we version the entire project (create a new folder with all files and a military date proceeding the descriptor) any time there is a major agreed upon change.

                                                                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                Eric Kelly

                                                                                                                                                As the traffic cop, I have the knowledge that I can go ahead and give subassembly 1 to contractor X and then recombine into the module after both contractors are done.  Good, planned, separation of subassemblies is why this can be done.  They still have relations but nearly never top down, usually some sort of easily understood mate scheme.  I am in the process of reviewing https://forum.solidworks.com/message/742958#771738  and John Stoltzfus way of breaking up large assemblies.

                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                The goal would be some sort of intelligent vault that allowed local replication while still acting as a gatekeeper, or the other solution (other than DOD projects) is for the entire kit and kaboodle to be online where everyone can plug in at a thin client (onshape).

                                                                                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                    Eric Kelly

                                                                                                                                                    Speed to market is going to become more and more important in the future and having a monolithic group of 30 drafters / engineers / specialty engineers under one building is going the way of the dodo.  People want to work from home and if you are unlucky enough to live in an area where pickens' are slim, do you really want to hire and retain a specialty engineer at a much higher rate because you had to use cash to convince him to move to BFE.   Noooooo, just keep the guy on retainer at a distance as part of your "team" and use when needed.  It is a win all the way around.  You have way more leeway with contractors as far as how you use them, an NDA is way stronger with a contractor than an employee, contractors are far more motivated (at least the good ones are) about maintaining their reputation as a business, you don't have to pay benefits, overtime, insurance, etc.
                                                                                                                                                    The only down is with a distributed workforce, you need a good cad manager that is familiar with interacting with subs, vendors, the owner or management team, etc.
                                                                                                                                                    We devloped a large complicated semi trailer sized piece of equipment in 13 months, where it takes the ag guys 18-24 months to do the same thing in a traditional setting (brand new prototype).

                                                                                                                                                  • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                    Jim Steinmeyer

                                                                                                                                                    Eric,

                                                                                                                                                    I think you have an incorrect understanding of the PDM vault. The vault corrects exactly the issues that you are describing. From when I worked at a place with the vault we would checkout ONLY the part or assembly we were going to work on. Then we could download and open the rest of the assembly, either all of it or the specific items that related to what we were working on. Now we would have as much of the model as we desired on our machine saved to our work space, but ONLY the parts we had checked out were locked from the rest of the users. The vault would notify us when something in our workspace was "out of date" meaning that someone had checked in a revised edition and we could download and sync that particular segment with what we had if desired but there was no need to download the entire assembly over again. Then when we were finished working on our segment we would have the opportunity to upload that and only that segment to the vault and since we had checked it out it would not overwrite anything that someone else had worked on. Now they are notified that our segment has been revised and they are able to update it in their workspace without effecting their work.

                                                                                                                                                    from my experience the PDM vault acts exactly the way you have stated the goal is in your following post.

                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                    The goal would be some sort of intelligent vault that allowed local replication while still acting as a gatekeeper, or the other solution (other than DOD projects) is for the entire kit and kaboodle to be online where everyone can plug in at a thin client (onshape).

                                                                                                                                                      • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                        Eric Kelly

                                                                                                                                                        Believe me we had an extensive meeting with someone very high up at hawk ridge, the problem as you have stated is your local copy is "checked out".  So your workflow goes like this: Check out needed files and download them from server ==> work on them ==> check in files and upload them to server.

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                        Our workflow looks like this  Request clearance to work on file set from manager ==> open file set that is local on machine ==> work on them ==> save and inform manager that you are done ==> cad manager ensures that dropbox has synced before re-releasing files to some other contractor

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                        The difference is two fold, all contractors have an exact copy of the entire project (with proper clearance) or they have accesss to part of the project (with proper clearance).

                                                                                                                                                        And I can violate the checkout proceedure meaning if I want to where contractor A has requested more than he needs (file hogging, it happens) and I know that some small part of the assembly he has checked out needs a change and I am sure he is not working on it.

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                        But the main issue for hawk ridge was the file replication, local copies (i hope that makes more sense than mud)

                                                                                                                                                          • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                            Jim Steinmeyer

                                                                                                                                                            Eric,

                                                                                                                                                            If you are working with Hawk Ridge you are getting good information from everything I have heard about them. I see what you are looking to get out of the deal and why you are doing it, I think probably the reason I am disagreeing with you on how it works is that we are working on a shared server and your guys have the parts individually broken apart so they don't get the sharing problems we do without PDM. I have also had the complicated struggle of  reintroducing parts and assemblies to the system after having sent them to outside contractors without the vault to keep changed files straight. Not something I would wish on anyone.

                                                                                                                                                            It would seem to me that either the way you are doing it, or with the vault, The contractor would have the initial downloading of the overall assembly, and then the only time they would be moving files up or down is to upload files they have changed or downloading files someone else has changed. That should be the same either way but the vault would prevent the accidental changing of a file that wasn't intended to be changed. Then you personally are having to spend a lot of extra time and work that the vault could be doing for you. But then again you are working with someone who has a lot more experience than I do so there is probably something I am overlooking.

                                                                                                                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                              Austin Broeker

                                                                                                                                                              Maybe I am misunderstanding parts of your workflow, but I agree with Jim that most, if not all, of the "traffic controlling" you are currently doing could be automated through the use of PDM. Permissions can be set per file, per folder, or by "work states" within PDM. You can also set permissions for individual users or groups of users.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              But the main issue for hawk ridge was the file replication, local copies

                                                                                                                                                              I'm assuming you must have been looking into PDM standard then, because PDM professional allows vault replication. You can even create an automated replication schedule that can dictate when and how much of your vault will replicate to other locations. As for the local copies issue, any time someone opens an assembly from PDM it will store a local copy of all referenced files on that person's machine. The first time you open an assembly might take longer since it has to download all the files, but after that it will only have to download any files that have been changed, which is the same as having to download/update local files from Dropbox. With PDM though, you can specify certain folders to automatically refresh their cache when logging in to the vault, and you can force users to always use the latest version of files, thereby making sure users are always working with the most up-to-date data available.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              the problem is file location, every time you want to work on a module, you would have to download megabytes of info and once you lock the files for use, no one else can enter that module.

                                                                                                                                                              You would only need to download all of the data for a module once. After the initial download, the only data you would need to download thereafter would be for any parts that got changed - the local copies don't get erased until you tell them to. And if a person has a file checked out, everyone else can still open and view that file, they just won't be able to check it out and save it themselves until the first person has checked it back in. As the CAD manager, you would decide who has the clearance to check out certain files in the first place. And if someone did manage to check out a file that they shouldn't have, as the CAD manager you could undo their check-out.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              Honestly, the only real deterrent I see to using PDM in your setup would be the installation of the PDM software on the contractors' machines and license sharing. Depending on how long you typically hire a given contractor for, this could be a legitimate reason to avoid PDM or just a minor annoyance.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              But I'm guessing I must be missing something because I'm sure Hawk Ridge went over all this with you. I apologize if I'm sticking my nose where it doesn't belong, but it just sounds like you could really benefit from it and make your life a lot easier.

                                                                                                                                                    • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                      Paul Biestek

                                                                                                                                                      Hi all:

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      We have been using a skeleton model method in our current medical product design effort going on 2yrs now, which includes a main assembly, 4 sub assemblies, and upwards of a maybe 100 parts.

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      However, we have been using the 'insert-part' method: meaning that the skeleton model (lightweight part model containing only planes, sketches, axis) is inserted into every single part as the first feature. I have not seen this method discussed much here.

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      The advantage of the 'insert part' method is extreme portability - parts can move freely in and out of assemblies/subassemblies as there are no external references to them. The ability to move parts between assemblies is desirable in product design as we often group parts into subs to match how the production line organizes their builds, or to match purchased assemblies as they are kitted, and this scheme often changes throughout the design cycle. I would also say the external relationships in this method are more intuitively obvious, as the first feature in each part shows you exactly where all of the relations are coming from.

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      So far our experience has been reasonably good with this method: updates to the skeleton model propagates automatically to all parts and we have not seen many issues, although rebuild times can get slow.

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      I think the prime advantage to the method described on this forum (skeleton part added to the top of a master assembly, references created within assembly) is efficiency, as an update to the skeleton model only drives update to affected parts, not to every single part.

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      Is reduced process time the primary reason to use the assembly-based skeleton model method versus the 'insert part' skeleton model method? How much improvement is there, as I see the portability of the 'insert part' method as significant. Is there anyone else who has tried both and who can comment?

                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                      -Paul

                                                                                                                                                        • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                          Jim Steinmeyer

                                                                                                                                                          Paul,

                                                                                                                                                          So what you are saying is that you insert the skeleton part into each new part that you create? Then with each part constrained by the skeleton part you are able to control all changes just the same as if each part were constrained to a part in the assembly which drives everything? This is interesting, Yes it would allow parts to be more portable. I have heard about inserting parts into parts but have never done this.

                                                                                                                                                          My biggest fear that is holding me back from using the skeleton sketch is that the skeleton may change somewhere without my being aware of it and now the parts that I have made prints and DXF files for the plasma of are out of date and I don't know about it until the wrong parts are ready to be assembled. Short of rebuilding all of the dxf files every time I go to make parts i don't know to avoid this potential costly problem.

                                                                                                                                                            • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                              Carrie Ives

                                                                                                                                                              Jim,

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              Once the design is locked down, you could lock the external reference to the skeleton part. (Don't break them, lock them. Once it's broken, it can't be put back together.) It wouldn't change without you unlocking it. Then, if you needed to update things based on changes to the skeleton part, you could, but it won't change without an actual intervention by someone. You'd also want to make sure that the skeleton part wasn't easy to change after the design was done. Make it so that it is read only (released if you use PDM) without some kind of intervention. It could be as simple as manually changing the properties of the part to read-only in Windows Explorer once you felt the design was complete.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              Another option that I have used when I used a skeleton part, I used the items in the skeleton part for sketches to reference. Then, if I needed to remove that reference later, I just redefined my sketch.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              The behavior I want early in the design process is different than what I want as things transfer to production.

                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                              Good luck,

                                                                                                                                                              Carrie

                                                                                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                                Matt Peneguy

                                                                                                                                                                Jim,

                                                                                                                                                                Ya got other problems to consider, also.  If you have subassemblies that are dependent on the skeleton sketch above them and you are working in the level above those subassemblies and change that driving skeleton part, you have to open or edit the subassemblies to get that change propagated to those subassemblies.  And guess what, if those subassemblies have subassemblies dependent on the skeleton parts... You have to go all the way down the tree.  This is on purpose on SW part because if it wasn't this way the performance in SW would be horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                So, with whichever method you choose, you need to fully understand it to not get burned.

                                                                                                                                                                I had discussed this with John Stoltzfus this weekend.  He has a macro that will take care of this.  But, his assemblies are not as complicated as the ones I'm dealing with.  So, I have to be careful.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                I think there are multiple ways to do things and some methods are superior depending on your workflow.  If your assemblies are small you may even get away with driving everything from a sketch in the assembly.  You don't even need an extra skeleton part.  I'm not advocating for or against this method, but I think you may get away with it.

                                                                                                                                                              • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                                Andreas Rhomberg

                                                                                                                                                                Paul Biestek, have you tried to 'insert Part" in a Part and then save it as your Part Template, would save you the Time having to Insert for every Part.

                                                                                                                                                                • Re: large assembly best practice.
                                                                                                                                                                  John Stoltzfus

                                                                                                                                                                  Paul Biestek - I would love it if the Part in Part would work cleanly, then you could develop your SSP and insert that into a Part Template and use that template to start all parts for that project.  I have tried it on one assembly and didn't have the results that I wanted where the SSP in the Part became static and the SSP in the Part didn't change when I edited the SSP by itself, so proceed with caution using the Part in Part method. 

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                  The basic advantage of using the SSP is for ease of change, not speed of design.