33 Replies Latest reply on Aug 9, 2018 4:27 PM by Frederick Law

    Solidworks file management.

    Jim Paradis

      I work for a smaller company any have major issues with file management.

      Part of the problem is we have multiple files of the same parts and some have lost their links.

      Currently I am looking for a basic starting point.

      We have SLDPRT, SLDDRW, SLDASM FILES. Is it best to keep all these files together in one folder? Or star with an assembly folder and all the associated files with them?

      Currently we have part folders which contain just SLDPRT, SLDDRW files.

      We have a seperate folder with assembly drawings and part files that go into the assemblies.

      The problem is if we modify a part in the part folder the part in the assembly folder does not get updated.

      any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

        • Re: Solidworks file management.
          Glenn Schroeder

          Here where I work each project has its own folder on the network, and there's a "Drafting" folder in each project folder.  All Parts, Assemblies, and Drawings that are specific to that project go into that folder.  When we first started using SW we had sub-folders for Parts, Assemblies, and Drawings, but I abandoned that years ago.

           

          I also have a large number of standard Parts and sub-assemblies that are shared by projects.  They are in a separate folder on the network, and remain there as long as there aren't any changes to them (they aren't copied to the project folders).  Any standard Part that needs to be modified for a specific project is first copied to the project folder, re-named to make sure to break any links, and then altered.

            • Re: Solidworks file management.
              Jim Paradis

              How do you manage the shared parts if changes to those parts are made?

              Are they linked to the assemblies?

                • Re: Solidworks file management.
                  Glenn Schroeder

                  Jim Paradis wrote:

                   

                  How do you manage the shared parts if changes to those parts are made?

                  Are they linked to the assemblies?

                   

                  I'm not sure I understand.  Do you mean if I make a change to a Part in my library?  If yes, then that change would be reflected any time I opened an Assembly that referenced that Part.  If you mean if a Part needs to be modified for a particular project then I explained that above.  It's copied to the project folder, renamed, and then edited so that any Assemblies that referenced the original Part won't be affected.

              • Re: Solidworks file management.
                Jim Paradis

                So if you just need a drawing of a part how do you find it? And how do you know which assembly it goes to?

                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                    Glenn Schroeder

                    Jim Paradis wrote:

                     

                    So if you just need a drawing of a part how do you find it? And how do you know which assembly it goes to?

                     

                    Drawings for the library Parts are saved in the same folder as the Part, but here where I work all project specific Parts are detailed in the same Drawing as the main Assembly instead of having their own Drawing.  Some of them go a dozen sheets or more, although most are 6 or less.

                    • Re: Solidworks file management.
                      Frederick Law

                      Jim Paradis wrote:

                       

                      So if you just need a drawing of a part how do you find it? And how do you know which assembly it goes to?

                      All file names are part number.  One file, one drawing.

                      I keep all file under one folder for that specific job.

                      Jobs that share parts will be more complicated.

                    • Re: Solidworks file management.
                      Dan Pihlaja

                      Here where we work....each project is its own entity.  So each project gets its own folder.   Originally, all purchased components went into a common folder to be drawn from for each assembly.....but I have found problems with that.  Since we have a folder system, sometimes users will move some of those files or rename them....there is nothing stopping them.  Then....this breaks every bloody assembly that uses it.

                       

                      I have moved to a single folder for each project.   EVERY single component of that project is housed inside that folder and the project name is in the filename for each file inside that folder.

                      There are a few advantages to this:

                       

                      1) I can Start the entire project from my hard drive (SSD is lightning fast!).  Once I get to a stage where I need to either share it with someone or I need to release it, I can just run a Pack and Go and drop it into a new folder on the network (I also periodically back it up using the same process to backup folders on the network).

                       

                      2) If I ever need to make another fixture similar to this one, it is as easy as a pack and go and drop it into the new folder while at the same time renaming every component using the Select/Replace Function inside Pack and Go to give it the new project number.

                       

                      Example:

                      For Project EC-02077.  The main Assembly is called EC-02077_MAIN ASSEMBLY

                      Sub assemblies get the filename EC-02077-AXX_DESCRIPTION (where XX is a number designation for that particular sub assembly.

                      Parts/weldments, etc..... get the filename EC-02077-DXXX_DESCRIPTION (Same pattern as assemblies)

                      Drawing would follow the part or assembly filename.

                      Purchased components get the filename: VendorPartNumber_Description_VendorName_ProjectNumber

                      So, e.g., this locating pin from McMaster-Carr (Locating Pin) would get the filename: 1529N11_LocatingPin_McMasterCarr_EC-02077.

                       

                      Then, if we ever use that same pin in another project, I will copy it to the new project folder and Rename it with the new project number. (or just re-download it from McMaster-Carr).

                       

                      Similar to Glenn.

                      • Re: Solidworks file management.
                        John Stoltzfus

                        Jim Paradis -

                        4 Years ago I felt the pain that your feeling now.  Here they had one folder called SolidWorks and everything was in that folder with the exception of a few products having their own folder, with an Excel spreadsheet setup as a Part/Drawing Ledger, this worked fine till someone jumped a row and you had to open various models because the part number didn’t match what it was.

                        Apparently for years they had amateurs working here and they had no concept of trying to find parts and drawings and the issue just got really bad because of no PDM to control the SolidWorks items, literally thousands of parts, assemblies and drawings in the same folder.

                        It took me a little bit and small subtle changes till they seen the value of a decent folder system, now everything is based on Style, and in that “Style” folder I have additional sub folders that designate the product and additional sub-folders if there are different product sizes and within that folder I have folders that are labeled..  

                         

                        Example:

                         

                         

                         

                         

                        The issue in the beginning was that every time I needed to organize the folders I had to reestablish the links in the assemblies and drawings.  We also have a separate folder for all our purchased items.

                         

                        With the above system I can very easily find what I need quickly, either part number or style name, such as the above is our Stratford line..

                        Not an easy way to get organized but well worth it after it’s set up.  I have a sample folder setup that I expanded from the beginning till now. Now when I start up a new project the first thing I do is setup my folder structure by copying the following into the “New” design folder

                         

                         

                        A good folder system is one that you can find something very quickly and everyone can easily follow it, here all they need is to find the top folder and bingo..

                         

                        Wish you the best

                          • Re: Solidworks file management.
                            Jim Paradis

                            If you have manufactured components used in more than one assembly how can you use version control?

                            If there is a change in one of the components, how does that get carried out to every assembly?

                              • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                John Stoltzfus

                                Each style is separate so there are no interchangeable components from one to the other, even within the same style. This can be an issue if we have a revision, because we'll have more then one main assembly file that we need to bump, but I prefer to do it that way only because when we introduce a new style all I have to do is Pack & Go for the next size and the only thing left is some clerical work in the drawings and custom properties.

                                • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                  Frederick Law

                                  And it should tie into how your company handle common/share parts.  Also inventory.

                                  Changing part that affect old product could be costly if it cause issue in old product.

                                  CAD should work with and follow company workflow.  You might need to modify both.

                              • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                Jim Paradis

                                Has anyone used Solidworks explorer?

                                Does it help?

                                • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                  Daniel R. Melendez

                                  Hi Jim the problem lies within your own comments: "Part of the problem is we have multiple files of the same parts and some have lost their links."

                                   

                                  Yes I really like Solidworks Explorer, but with pack-n-go don't need to use it as much.

                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                    David Matula

                                    sounds like your going to have a lot of fun....

                                    set up a flow chart for the file management.  and reorganize the whole thing and then painfully reassociate each part and drawing to where it needs to go.

                                    you may have a great reason to get the company to get pdm as that will help some.

                                     

                                    good luck

                                    • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                      Dan Golthing

                                      I hate the idea of putting projects in separate folders.  The result is that there are multiple instances of parts and assemblies all over the network.  Its totally unprofessional.

                                       

                                      I like to run a production folder, containing all of the custom parts and assemblies that a company is responsible for having manufactured, and then a purchased folder, with organized sub-folders, to house all of the common vendor parts and hardware that get used over and over again.

                                       

                                      This type of folder structure is simple.  If you can't find something, you may be an idiot, and there's no possible file replication from one project folder to another to another.  New hires can quickly and easily figure out where everything is.

                                       

                                      As projects are being developed, they can be temporarily managed in a separate "development" folder with non-official part and assembly names ("bracket 1", etc), because we all know how messy a project can be.  But then when the parts and assemblies are approved for production, they get assigned proper part numbers and are moved to the the production folder.  Any residual mess is left in the project development folder, and a "find references" on the top level assembly should point out any parts that have yet to be put in the Production or Purchased folder.  Once only those folders come up in the find references, then the file management is done.

                                       

                                      Dan P. said that morons at his company would move files out of these official folders.  that's why you back up your data regularly, so that you can easily recover these parts if this happens.

                                       

                                      When I work at a company that has project folders, I really feel like it's amateur hour.  You often need tribal knowledge to find your way around all the countless folders to find whatever it is your looking for.  And then you inevitably find it in fifteen different folders and don't know which is the official version.  This project folder method also makes it more difficult to use and reuse standard hardware and purchased parts. 

                                       

                                      Let's say you have a bolt that you use a lot.  So this should show up in almost every project folder?  That doesn't make sense.  Especially if you want to modify the file.  For instance, maybe the CAD part doesn't change, but you need to change the custom properties.  Do you find every instance on the network and change all of them?  Or what if you want to change the information in the design binder.  For all purchased parts and hardware, there should be spec sheets and other data in the design binder.  Should this info change or you would like to add to it, it's very easy to update if it's all in one place.

                                       

                                      I've worked at a lot of places and it is apparent that project folders is a bad idea.  It tends to be the most common way that underdeveloped engineering departments deal with the file management issue, as it is the least sophisticated way to do it.

                                        • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                          Glenn Schroeder

                                          Dan Golthing wrote:

                                           

                                          I hate the idea of putting projects in separate folders. The result is that there are multiple instances of parts and assemblies all over the network. Its totally unprofessional.

                                           

                                          I like to run a production folder, containing all of the custom parts and assemblies that a company is responsible for having manufactured, and then a purchased folder, with organized sub-folders, to house all of the common vendor parts and hardware that get used over and over again.

                                           

                                          This type of folder structure is simple. If you can't find something, you may be an idiot, and there's no possible file replication from one project folder to another to another. New hires can quickly and easily figure out where everything is.

                                           

                                          As projects are being developed, they can be temporarily managed in a separate "development" folder with non-official part and assembly names ("bracket 1", etc), because we all know how messy a project can be. But then when the parts and assemblies are approved for production, they get assigned proper part numbers and are moved to the the production folder. Any residual mess is left in the project development folder, and a "find references" on the top level assembly should point out any parts that have yet to be put in the Production or Purchased folder. Once only those folders come up in the find references, then the file management is done.

                                           

                                          Dan P. said that morons at his company would move files out of these official folders. that's why you back up your data regularly, so that you can easily recover these parts if this happens.

                                           

                                          When I work at a company that has project folders, I really feel like it's amateur hour. You often need tribal knowledge to find your way around all the countless folders to find whatever it is your looking for. And then you inevitably find it in fifteen different folders and don't know which is the official version. This project folder method also makes it more difficult to use and reuse standard hardware and purchased parts.

                                           

                                          Let's say you have a bolt that you use a lot. So this should show up in almost every project folder? That doesn't make sense. Especially if you want to modify the file. For instance, maybe the CAD part doesn't change, but you need to change the custom properties. Do you find every instance on the network and change all of them? Or what if you want to change the information in the design binder. For all purchased parts and hardware, there should be spec sheets and other data in the design binder. Should this info change or you would like to add to it, it's very easy to update if it's all in one place.

                                           

                                          I've worked at a lot of places and it is apparent that project folders is a bad idea. It tends to be the most common way that underdeveloped engineering departments deal with the file management issue, as it is the least sophisticated way to do it.

                                           

                                          The method I outlined above about having project specific files in project folders, and another location for shared Parts works very well.  It eliminates the issue of "multiple instances of parts and assemblies all over the network."  Here where I work, with our "underdeveloped engineering department", it's not at all difficult to find a file, as long as you know the project number.

                                            • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                              Dan Golthing

                                              Glen, how many people are sharing your folders?

                                               

                                              Project folders is really more of a mom and pop approach to file management.  If it's just one or two people, it could be manageable.

                                               

                                              Having been with and consulted for many, many companies, it is clear that the project folder approach is almost always the first step in the data management chain of evolution, but as the engineering organizations grow, they almost always abandon this approach ultimately ending up with some sort of PDM.  And typically, PDM will prefer as simple a file structure as possible.

                                                • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                  Glenn Schroeder

                                                  We have 8-10 people working in the project folder, but typically only one or two in the Drafting sub-folder.  I don't doubt that our system wouldn't work everywhere, but your long comment above seemed to be a blanket condemnation of using project folders.  It's worked well here for a long time.

                                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                    Frederick Law

                                                    Project Folder works well with PDM.

                                                    User can take the folder with what they need.

                                                    My first folder structure needed some adjustment for PDM.

                                                    Folder is simple to copy.  How do you copy everything for an project/assembly when everything is in one folder without PDM?

                                                      • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                        Dan Golthing

                                                        Frederick Law wrote:

                                                         

                                                        Project Folder works well with PDM.

                                                        User can take the folder with what they need.

                                                        My first folder structure needed some adjustment for PDM.

                                                        Folder is simple to copy. How do you copy everything for an project/assembly when everything is in one folder without PDM?

                                                        We use a little thing called "Pack and Go" (when it works, that is).

                                                         

                                                        Large assemblies, folders, and PDM don't play nice together.  When PDM has to search through hundreds of thousands of files and hundreds of folders, it can really slow it down, versus having all the files in relatively few folders.

                                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                    John Stoltzfus

                                                    Dan Golthing  wrote:

                                                     

                                                    When I work at a company that has project folders, I really feel like it's amateur hour.

                                                    Are you referring to our project folders?? Our people can find any item within seconds, no need to muddle around, set up your folder system so the people don't need any instructions, except to know where the root drive is located, from there it's self explanatory.

                                                      • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                        Dan Golthing

                                                        When you've got hundreds and hundreds of SKU's it can be a problem unless you know exactly what part number you're looking for.  Many companies have a long history of product development where many of the products become obsolete.  If you're trying to dig up one, it can be a problem.

                                                         

                                                        If your company is more organized than most, a master list with details of all past products could help locate what you're looking for.

                                                         

                                                        One company I'm thinking of makes it even more difficult because the part number in engineering is not the part number that goes in the catalog, for whatever reason.  So when something goes south in the field, the customer gives engineering a worthless number and then we have to go into Sherlock mode.  there's no master decoder ring.

                                                          • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                            Frederick Law

                                                            One of the boss try to get design to make part numbers for all purchase parts.  Everyone just ignore him.

                                                              • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                Dan Golthing

                                                                it depends on your business.  If you are selling a product to a customer where they need to order replacement parts, you are going to provide them with a parts manual.  So then what do you do in that case?  Each purchased part needs a discreet part number and nomenclature for the parts manual and/or service manual.

                                                                 

                                                                We had a client want us to give them our complete BOM, but with all the supplier info recently!!???  Um, what??!

                                                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                    Frederick Law

                                                                    We let customer get common replacement part if they want to.  Things like bearing, o-ring, nuts and bolts, cylinder etc.  We do make money selling those but not enough for the trouble.  Better focus on design and support for our product.  Usually our customer specify purchase parts so they can use it from their inventory.

                                                                • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                  John Stoltzfus

                                                                  Dan Golthing  wrote:

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  One company I'm thinking of makes it even more difficult because the part number in engineering is not the part number that goes in the catalog, for whatever reason. So when something goes south in the field, the customer gives engineering a worthless number and then we have to go into Sherlock mode. there's no master decoder ring.

                                                                  Sounds like you worked here - one number for our SW parts, another Product Number in their catalogs and another number for their work orders, anything older the 4 years ago is a crap shoot and a half an hour search minimum and then if you're lucky you might find what you're look for..  Never seen something so ridiculous

                                                                   

                                                                  Just yesterday I got an email requesting solid models saved in 3 different formats and within 2 minutes all the files were sent via email, before it could have been hours...

                                                                   

                                                                  A lot of people don't understand the importance of a good setup and how much time it takes to search in a bad system.  From quoting to replacement parts, those items should be found easily.

                                                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                    Frederick Law

                                                                    Windows does have problem handling folder with too many items in it.  Don't know what the limit is.

                                                                • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                  Frederick Law

                                                                  Common parts don't belong in Project folder.

                                                                  File name "should not" duplicate.

                                                                  Duplicating hardware is ok, as long as the assembly only use the hardware within its sub-folder.

                                                                  And that hardware will never change.  Technically hardware should be in a read only library.

                                                                  ie Purchase Parts in Purchase folder, non-customer/project specific parts in its own folder.

                                                                  Proper file naming will help.  Part number as file name is best.  So you won't have long-running-sentence-file-name.

                                                                  Long file name and too many sub-folders is a problem, since Windows will have problem when path is more then 255 characters.

                                                                   

                                                                  Then its all company policy and some personal preference.

                                                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                    Dan Golthing

                                                                    to add insult to injury, one company not only has project folders, they have sub folders in each project folder for "parts" and "hardware".  It is a freaking nightmare. But when this is what everyone is "used to" and they have no idea of the extra frustrations they are dealing with, there's no helping them.

                                                                  • Re: Solidworks file management.
                                                                    Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                                                                    I use this kind

                                                                    Assy/Part/Drawing in the same Root