Hoping all you PDM users out there can provide some input on my situation. (I am not too familiar with the capabilities and uses for PDM)
My company is a contractor metal fabricator...For the most part, we are not in control of the design for the products we are making. We are usually working with customer provided para-solids (IGES, STEP, etc.), PDFs, in-house tooling designs, our own drawings that we create to suit our in-process inspection, and SolidWorks inspection data. We rarely need to have multiple designers working on the same project. All files are currently managed on windows file explorer in a structure something like Customer>Part>Rev. Our current process looks something this (some things may happen in parallel order)...
- Receive customer solids and PDFs.
- Move files to proper location
- Verify solid to customer print
- Create our in-process inspection drawings from para-solids
- Merge those SolidWorks drawing files to customer PDF in PDF format (creates a master drawing PDF with all necessary drawings and production information)
- Release master drawing to public drawing directory (allows shop floor to access PDFs)
- Create necessary tooling (fixture, gauges, tools)
- 1st article run to prove out processes
- Create SolidWorks inspection
- Inspect parts 1st article
- Ready for production
- Repeat for new revisions
So my questions are:
- Is there any value in having SolidWorks PDM to help manage this process?
- Are there any features of PDM in particular that will allow for better document control throughout in a case like this?
- What features does PDM have for managing SolidWorks inspection data?
- Is there any way for us to release edrawing that include customer PDFs and our SolidWorks drawings? Essentially, where we could have a live connection between our active master drawing (customer drawing PDF and our created solidworks drawings) and the production floor? One of our biggest issues is anytime we change our process drawings, we have to re-merge it to the master PDF and delete the page with the old process drawing. It would be nice to have a live link between our active drawing and production.
Ultimately we are looking for better document control and process efficiency.
My concerns are that PDM is more for managing the design process and revision control, unlike in our case where we do not manage original design files. I also fear that PDM will create a lot more data entry, management, and maintenance than our current process.
Side note: We are using Epicor 10 and have looked into CADLink for creating BOM data. Are there any advantage of using PDM if we decided to use CADLink as well?