30 Replies Latest reply on Jul 27, 2018 9:44 AM by Andrew Schutte

    What would we gain with PDM professional?

    Gary Lucas

      We had our SW Var in today to talk about a solution to a problem that is really hurting us right now.  We are a small startup company with 4 seats of SW with another on the way.  We don't have a server so SW was initially set up using Dropbox which worked okay when there were just two users doing their own thing and we communicated about what files we would be working with.  The third and fourth seats though changed everything as those people work on large assemblies containing nearly everything we make. So we are losing revisions by  Dropbox in "conflicted copies".

       

      One question is will SW work properly if our extensive library of parts, assemblies and drawings, which should not change, has all those files marked as read only?  If they need to get changed because they have a problem you'll have to replace them with a file that is not read only and then mark it as such.   This is a band aid for sure, but our business is exploding and implementing PDM right now is simply not possible.  We need to get the data loss fixed right now.

       

      In the discussion today about PDM it appears that it may duplicate a lot of what we already have.  We design everything in SW and every part has our part#.  We also have AllOrders which integrates directly with Quickbooks.  AllOrders does what it says, Quotes, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Work Orders, Pick Lists, Packing List and Inventory.  It tracks customers, manufacturers, multiple vendors per part etc.  We already have SW and AllOrders integrated through a custom macro that imports any SW BOM at any level right into AllOrders while rolling up all the subassemblies, short pieces of wire, pipe, etc. so that AllOrders can actually order the correct number of lengths of all materials.

       

      This works very well and all our seats of AllOrders cost less than one seat of SW!  I have a previous history with AllOrders going back 10 years and it keeps getting better with great support.  Our products are fairly complex for a little company.  A recent report shows one skid had over 5000 parts with 500 unique part numbers.  This requires purchasing parts for each job from at least 50 vendors so AllOrders has been really great.  From top level model to completed orders for materials in a couple of hours.  We also get the cost of a product as soon as we import the BOM.

       

      It looks like PDM Pro can do some or all of this.  Is that out of the box, or is simply capable of all this wonderful stuff with lots of customization?  If we choose to go the PDM route with SW in the future what is it likely to cost to get what we have now?  The PDM software and startup looks to be about $25,000.  How much more gets spent getting it the way your company needs?  I am guessing at least another $25,000, and possibly a whole lot more if we have to rely on outside expertise to pull it off.  We are engineers not SW guys.

       

      Thanks for any advice or comments.

        • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
          Michael Dekoning

          It sounds like you are satisfied with your system except for having outgrown Dropbox. I wonder if PDM Standard would be an option for you.

          • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
            Duncan Gillis

            Hi Gary,


            Some questions to consider:


            - Do you have SolidWorks Professional or Premium? PDM Standard comes in built to both packages (not in Standard though).
            - Are all your designers working on site?

            - Do you have complex workflows for design sign off (i.e. multiple depts, etc)?
            - Do you need to revision manage just SolidWorks files? or other files as well? i.e. word docs, etc?

             

            You might find that PDM standard is more than sufficient, read through the comparison below.  particularly as you're a startup, and cost is always an issue.
            https://www.javelin-tech.com/blog/2015/10/solidworks-pdm-standard-and-professional-comparison/

             

            One thing with PDM Standard is that it can be upgraded down the track to PDM Professional without too much work (as i understand) as they're both SQL based systems, but from what you've stated, PDM Standard will probably do the job initially without too much overhead.

             

            Edit:
            Also PDM will need some form of customisation to integrate with other systems as well as to suit your workflows.  the amount of customisation will depend on your requirements.

            • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
              Martin Solem

              You would gain:

               

              A safe place to store files

              Version control with every checked-in change.

              Control of history, easy to find how an assembly or drawing looked like in Rev "n", or on a delivery date for a product.

              File ownership by checking out and checking in files

              Workflow with processes for design and change

              Workflow controlled content, like automatic update of custom property/drawing title block content, like checker, approver, dates and revision, automatic creation of a number of file formats, like PDF, DWG, STEP, etc.

              Revision control.

              Data cards for displaying and maintaining file-related information, including custom properties.

              Content protection on workflow state-, file-, folder-, user- and/or group level. (Which also means you can lock library files (and actually to answer one of your questions, flagging a file as Read only, is what PDM does when it's not checked out.))

              A server based system, but working with files locally.

              Naming policy. Name files on Save and Save As with a serial number.

              An extensive Search Engine.

              Standardized folder and and file creation using PDM templates.

              XML export option to export BOMs to other systems.

              An API to create custom functionality. (Requires programming skills)

               

              To mention some

              • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                Edward Poole

                Gary Lucas 4 of us here, largely in the office all the time, but we do on occasion VPN in, have been running PDM Standard for 1.5 years without issue, and we have some very large files (machinery). VPN initially is slow, but once you're in, not a problem.

                • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                  Gary Lucas

                  I appreciate everyone's input on this.  We really can't afford the time or money to implement PDM Pro right now.  So it looks like upgrading our SW seats to Pro and using PDM standard initially is a good way to move forward.

                   

                  Big question.  How long would a move to PDM standard take?  How much is involved moving all your part files, assemblies and jobs into the vault?  We have about 5,000 files in our library and about 20,000 in jobs and products folders.  We use a couple of custom file properties for our part #, manufacturer, and manufacturer part#.  Does that need to be done differently.  Our part# in particular is the link to our AllOrders program through our custom macro.

                   

                  Honestly I am picturing this to be a really huge task full of gotchas.  I hope that is not the case.

                    • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                      Duncan Gillis

                      Hi Gary Lucas,

                       

                      Personally I'd only look at adding in current or new jobs/projects, and your main libraries. This will greatly reduce the overhead needed.  if you need to add older projects/files, then add as required.  Timing i'm not sure, maybe a few days?? depends on your work flows, file revisions, etc. 

                       

                      Customising PDM Standard admin should not take too long either 1-2 days maximum i would imagine.

                       

                      As for custom properties, once you have setup PDM Standard, then it should pull that information in Automatically.

                       

                      It might be worth spending a little bit of time/money with your VAR or a local contractor that has experience in implementations to assist with a roadmap/scope of works to complete this.

                       

                      Good luck and keep us posted on how you go and what you've learned.

                      • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                        Ethan Kay

                        Gary,

                        If you implement it yourself there will be a little bit of a learning curve.  For me it was mostly figuring out how and were to install the server parts.  If you already have a standard for file properties those a pretty easy to set up as well.  PDM Standard was the third PDM I set up so maybe a little faster than the first time but I think I spend some of my time for two weeks working on it and testing to make sure the workflow functioned as expected.  Really once you have it set up you can do a batch import and grab full assemblies to bring in.

                         

                        For small bushiness and startups PDM standard seems to be the best deal.  You can rev control any file type but only SolidWorks has the integrated viewer.  I'm actually looking at bringing it in to the company I just started with since right now everything is just in two big folders, except of course the stuff saved in a third folder called "Petes old computer"  which really highlights the need for PDM.  That tells me they don't know what was on his old computer compared to what is on the network folders since there is no indication in file name what the revision is or if it was just a new concept so now we need to look at two folders for anything he worked on to see where it is and if it's the same in both places.

                      • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                        Gary Lucas

                        We are struggling with the cost of moving to PDM as we are a startup that is self financed.  However the Dropbox issues are really getting to be a problem.  Our boss has been running his two companies via cloud hosted programs but we think that getting a server for SW will give us far better performance. So we need to purchase both hardware and software.

                         

                        Anyone here using Sharefile.com instead of Dropbox?  Using it with SW?

                         

                        Someday I want to work for a large company where they have so many unneeded people they can get get rid of 1000 and still get the work done!

                          • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                            Andrew Schutte

                            Gary, few comments:

                            1. It sounds like your company is well setup and efficient with the current tools at hand. One of the most significant issues is the creation of conflicts, which is the major issue with using a with Drop Box (Google Drive and other file syncing platforms) when used with SOLIDWORKS is concurrency writes. The only online syncing program that I'm aware of that "solves" this issue is GrabCAD. I'm not very familiar with the pricing and features, but know it has the ability to "lock" a given file/file set which would prevent the syncing issue you are experiencing.
                            2. I find people are often confused/overwhelmed by the PDM discussion, and I think it's mostly due to poor SOLIDWORKS marking on what it *can* do vs *should* do compared to *is commonly used*. The most successful PDM implementation I've been part of/seen kept the focus very specifically on file management. Not inventory, not manufacturing, not purchasing/shipping, just file management.
                            3. A locally installed and properly configured PDM solution will be night and day different. It'll take a few days to get up and running, but you'll get that time back within the first week or two.
                            4. No matter what file management platform you move to/consider, there are a few additional points to consider:
                              1. When "vaulting" files, do users still have access? Meaning once you move all your SOLIDWORKS files to PDM (or similar), any non-SOLIDWORKS licensed user instantly loses access to the native SOLIDWORKS data. So your assembly or shipping guy who needs to pull up a model would require a SOLIDWORKS PDM Viewer license, or similar.
                              2. When "vaulting" files, are there other integration points that would be nice to have?
                                1. You mentioned AllOrders, is there any way that could be connected to PDM so that when you create a purchase order for outsourced parts (laser, machining, etc.)? Or for internal manufacturing assembly, could you automatically pull files from the vault (because they are not longer easily accessible) for other users?
                                2. SOLIDWORKS is investing heavily in their PDM platform, a lot of other upcoming products are integrating with PDM Professional (starting with standard and upgrading if/when needed is a possibility). Products such as EXALEAD OnePart, PDM Manage, etc.
                              3. Local IT support/needs will increase. That's not particularly a bad thing, but having a local server will lead to more local time/demand/expertise on the IT side, if not managed internally to your team outsourced.
                              4. SOLIDWORKS long-term comparability, some non-SOLIDWORKS PDM products (DB Works) while may be slightly less expensive, aren't necessarily guaranteed to work with SOLIDWORKS well, or long term. GrabCAD for example recently had some falling out with SOLIDWORKS (don't know the details), and now there's some bad-blood between them, or something. Could spell trouble long-term.
                            5. A proper file management solution like PDM that uses a database to store references and meta-data, things like re-name, move/copy, branching/merging (a Pro feature I think), etc. become easy and hassle-free. I'm not aware of any online solution (GrabCAD or others) that provide that level of control, functionality and ability to update data seamlessly with SOLIDWORKS.

                             

                            No matter what you do working with your VAR (or certified SOLIDWORKS services) for support, advise and setup/implementation (assuming  you go PDM Standard) is wise.

                             

                            If there's anything I can assist with, feel free to reach out at any time.

                            -Andrew Schutte

                            616-886-1523

                            aschutte@smoothlogics.com

                              • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                                Gary Lucas

                                Andrew,

                                I have responded to your comments below because I think you hit some important points.

                                 

                                1. I find people are often confused/overwhelmed by the PDM discussion, and I think it's mostly due to poor SOLIDWORKS marking on what it *can* do vs *should* do compared to *is commonly used*. The most successful PDM implementation I've been part of/seen kept the focus very specifically on file management. Not inventory, not manufacturing, not purchasing/shipping, just file management.

                                You've nailed my feelings on this exactly. We have a VERY good handle on those other things already.

                                 

                                1. A locally installed and properly configured PDM solution will be night and day different. It'll take a few days to get up and running, but you'll get that time back within the first week or two.
                                2. No matter what file management platform you move to/consider, there are a few additional points to consider:
                                  1. When "vaulting" files, do users still have access? Meaning once you move all your SOLIDWORKS files to PDM (or similar), any non-SOLIDWORKS licensed user instantly loses access to the native SOLIDWORKS data. So your assembly or shipping guy who needs to pull up a model would require a SOLIDWORKS PDM Viewer license, or similar.

                                Didn't quite realize this would be the case but it makes sense.  Something we need to examine further.

                                  1. When "vaulting" files, are there other integration points that would be nice to have?
                                    1. You mentioned AllOrders, is there any way that could be connected to PDM so that when you create a purchase order for outsourced parts (laser, machining, etc.)? Or for internal manufacturing assembly, could you automatically pull files from the vault (because they are not longer easily accessible) for other users?

                                This is potentially a problem but likely not a big one because all drawings for release to vendors are PDF or DXF and AllOrders links to all documents of those types already.

                                    1. SOLIDWORKS is investing heavily in their PDM platform, a lot of other upcoming products are integrating with PDM Professional (starting with standard and upgrading if/when needed is a possibility). Products such as EXALEAD OnePart, PDM Manage, etc.
                                  1. Local IT support/needs will increase. That's not particularly a bad thing, but having a local server will lead to more local time/demand/expertise on the IT side, if not managed internally to your team outsourced.

                                We are not IT guys and the server implementation will be done by an outside company.  However our field service has plenty of experience maintaining servers, backups and such as that was his job before he came here.

                                  1. SOLIDWORKS long-term comparability, some non-SOLIDWORKS PDM products (DB Works) while may be slightly less expensive, aren't necessarily guaranteed to work with SOLIDWORKS well, or long term. GrabCAD for example recently had some falling out with SOLIDWORKS (don't know the details), and now there's some bad-blood between them, or something. Could spell trouble long-term.

                                Yep, been down that road which is why we want to work with one vendor for this if we can afford it.

                                1. A proper file management solution like PDM that uses a database to store references and meta-data, things like re-name, move/copy, branching/merging (a Pro feature I think), etc. become easy and hassle-free. I'm not aware of any online solution (GrabCAD or others) that provide that level of control, functionality and ability to update data seamlessly with SOLIDWORKS.

                                 

                                We appreciate your comments,

                                Thanks,

                                  • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                                    Andrew Schutte

                                    Gary,

                                      1. When "vaulting" files, are there other integration points that would be nice to have?
                                        1. You mentioned AllOrders, is there any way that could be connected to PDM so that when you create a purchase order for outsourced parts (laser, machining, etc.)? Or for internal manufacturing assembly, could you automatically pull files from the vault (because they are not longer easily accessible) for other users?

                                    This is potentially a problem but likely not a big one because all drawings for release to vendors are PDF or DXF and AllOrders links to all documents of those types already.

                                    Really quickly on this point, if PDF and DXF are the primary ways you communicate with your vendors, PDM has the potential to save you considerable time and effort. PDM Standard can automatically generate PDF's of all drawing documents in the vault (triggered on state change), and PDM Professional can automatically generate PDF and any other (including DXF's) that SOLIDWORKS can natively save (step, parasolid, igs, etc.).

                                    There are tremendous benefit in PDM and vaulting/controlling your data, however I would again warn that it's all locked behind SOLIDWORKS licensing, so retrieving automatically generated files (PDF, DXF, etc.) will require SOLIDWORKS licensing or some clever third party integration.

                                    Thanks,

                                    -Andrew

                                      • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                                        Jeremy Feist

                                        it is my understanding that PDM pro lets you automatically output the PDF, DXF, or other file type to any location. PDM standard would limit you to PDF that get saved into the same vault. a downside of saving them outside of the vault is that if you only want to keep the most current version, the overwriting can fail if a user has previous version of the PDF/DXF/etc. open with write access.

                                • Re: What would we gain with PDM professional?
                                  Francisco Martínez

                                  I would like to add that PDM standard has a closed API and is missing a lot of the cool features PDM pro has.

                                   

                                  I use PDM standard and I am kinda kicking myself but really it was a cost issue for us.

                                   

                                  This has a good comparison of the 2

                                   

                                  https://www.javelin-tech.com/blog/2015/10/solidworks-pdm-standard-and-professional-comparison/