Tom Strohscher wrote:
We will be transitioning from PDM Workgroup to Enterprise Professional in a few months when we can fit it into our schedule.
I would like to ask how you handle CAD data for ideas and concepts that engineering team members need to work on together but never leave engineering. Many times these files have poorly structured filenames and possible poor modeling and assembly practices.
We have been using PDM Workgroup for 12 yeas and my preference is that every CAD file in the vault would have a proper engineering part number or it doesn't belong in the vault.
This thinking invalidates three of the main benefits of EPDM: the local file cache, data history and data security (not from theft, but from inadvertent loss):
- Working from the network is slow.
- Having multiple versions of in progress design files allows you to explore multiple ideas without having to 'Pack and Go' every time you want to try something out
- Backing up the data on the archive server is far easier than ensuring all users back up their data
Also, because of the way SOLIDWORKS likes to save new files in the last place something was saved, files will constantly end up in the vault that shouldn't and vice versa.
The system I put in place has a clear line of distinction between 'Work In Progress' and 'Released'. A new project is created via an EPDM template. Each project folder has all of the same subfolders (created via the template). One of the folders is 'CAD Work In Progress'. It's the sandbox where all new files are saved. Users are free to name/organize files as they like. At this stage, nothing has a part number. Why waste a number on something that may never be used?
When a model is finished, it is 'released' via an EPDM transition which triggers a custom add-in that acquires a part number from our MRP system and then renames/moves the files to folders organized by part number. This makes released things easy to find via part number.
When the project is done, anything left behind in the WIP folder can technically be deleted (all the 'real' stuff was released), but usually it stays there, not really hurting anything. After all, it's no longer generating new EPDM versions anymore because it's not being checked in/out. And you never know when an old unused design might be useful in a new design.
The rule in the shop is that nothing gets made that doesn't have a part number. This forces Engineering to follow the process of releasing.
Automation is your friend. The more you automate, the more structure and consistency you can create with zero effort. The more you automate, the more likely your users will use the automation because it's faster to do it the right way than the wrong way.
A sandbox area as you put it is what we need.
If I understand you correctly we need to define rules that keep "Released" files out of the sand box but still allow engineers to check files in and out of the sandbox as the team works. I like the process of letting the system put the file in the right place.
I think I need to understand the term project and how it relates to EPDM. I wasn't thinking of new projects all the time.
Thanks for the info.
Tom, I understand exactly. I think much of what you will setup will depend on what you want PDM Pro to do for you? If it is managing files only, then you could keep the workflow simple enough to just keep things in WIP or Released. Of course, the more things you want it to do, the more complex your workflow. If you are planning on a complete approval process, then I would have your VAR work closely with you in developing this, and watch lots of videos on workflows! I've been using Workgroup since the late 90s when it first came out. Pro is definitely a different animal, but with the same purpose. It will be a learning curve, but DEVOTE the time to understanding it and I think you can make a workflow that would mimic what you want, without the drawbacks. Pro can do and fix a ton more than Workgroup, but setup is key! I'm in the thick of it right now, and it will be nice once everyone is on board and using it.
We don't have/require much of an approval process for most of the engineering groups.
So I initially didn't think we would have much in workflow processes.
However there are many things that might make our system complex which will may require workflows if that's implements the automation.
I have started the process of reading and watching youtube to understand how it could work.
Thanks for the info
This also prevents the shop from making things that aren't finalized yet.
It look easier then I was imagining. We'll see when we get the software installed.
At this point I have a list of items to makes notes on. Identifying anything that might trip us up.