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To PDM or not to PDM

Question asked by Joe Rochinski on Jan 23, 2009
Latest reply on Jan 23, 2009 by Pete Yodis
I'm trying to determine whether it would be worthwhile to begin using Workgroup PDM to manage our Solidworks files. I don't have a lot of experience with PDM, but I have set up a vault on my local machine to play around with.

To date, all our company's solidworks files have been stored across the network on a basic network share. We organize and sort the files by a directory structure based on part number ranges, which has been working pretty well for us. We have 3 seats of solidworks. Of the 3 of us I am the only one who is using it extensively. All 3 have a license for Workgroup PDM presently.

I often work on large assemblies and a significant portion of my day is spent opening or saving these assemblies remotely. To speed things up, we've implemented a RAID array on the server and utilize Gigabit Ethernet between our engineering computers and the server. In spite of these improvements, opening and saving large assemblies remains painfully slow.

I am considering the use of Workgroup PDM for the simple fact that check-in/check-out allows us to store and share our data remotely in the vault, but lets us download and work locally to speed up saving my work.

I am largely uninterested in the revision tracking. The vast majority of our work is custom and while we will sometimes reuse parts as-is, any changes to a part for a new machine will receive an entirely new part number rather than a revision.

I also need to allow manufacturing to retain the ability to view and print our drawings, which they have been doing up to this point using the e-drawings viewer. I am afraid that by locking up drawings in the vault, they will have a difficult time accessing them.

I'm also not sure of the best way to integrate our existing parts into the vault. As I said, they are organized by sequential part number so they can be easily browsed, but but this system does not take into account the type or family of part, nor does it sort by project. Everything is basically lumped in together.

Most of all, I'm sure there are other headaches and things to consider which I am not even aware of. Supposing 2 months down the road I realize that PDM was a mistake, how hard is it to back out of the system?

Considering that the only thing I want to do is work locally on shared files to speed up opening and saving, is PDM even worth the trouble? Is there a better solution out there?

Any insight is greatly appreciated.