20 Replies Latest reply on Aug 21, 2018 1:53 PM by Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

    Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users

    Adam Doerr

      We consistently have trouble with engineers not properly checking out and updating referenced drawings and models, causing the downstream "customer" (internal or external machine shops, builders, sales, management, etc) to only be able to see the out of date versions of these files when viewed in eDrawings or other viewers. Machining tends to catch most of them as they import the Solidworks model and if it doesn't match the print they start asking questions (sometimes the differences have to be quite obvious for them to notice the discrepancy). To the engineer everything looks gravy when they open things in Solidworks and print the drawings, so it's way too easy for them to miss checking out and saving everything necessary. I've talked to our VAR numerous times but have had no real solutions proposed on how to efficiently tackle this problem. Does anyone have a method they use to mitigate these kind of issues?

       

      When we purchased PDM Pro a few years ago, we assumed that it would eliminate this problem but after implementation and using it for awhile we still have the same issues. It seems like this problem would be quite prevalent across the Solidworks/PDM user base, but I haven't seen too much about it so I'm trying to figure out what we're missing that everyone else has figured out!

       

      If it matters, we are currently running Solidworks 2016 SP5 and SW-PDM Pro 2016 SP5 though we will be upgrading to SW and SW-PDM Pro 2018 SP4 in the near future.

        • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
          John Stoltzfus

          Adam Doerr - This is good to know, because I will be bringing this up with our VAR as we are looking into setting up a PDM in 2019..

          • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
            Greg Hertvik

            So the engineers are updating the model only & not rev'ing the prints?  Sounds like a process problem.  PDM might be able to help you, but I think you may need to hash out a workflow.

            • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
              David Matula

              Systems.  It is like waiting on tables. You go to the table take and order and then send it to the kitchen.  The kitchen does a great job getting the order on the plate but where does the order go.  If there is not a table # and no one knows the numbers on the tables.  No one is getting what they want although everything has been done. 

                  So there is a failure that you have identified.  Implement the proper training and procedures to prevent this failure.

              • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                Steve Labonte

                Morning Adam we have the same problem 13 seats of sw. it is getting better, it all starts with accountability. In our pdm there are 3 people that can release jobs to be worked on. hope others post would like to here

                • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                  Jim Sculley

                  Adam Doerr wrote:

                   

                  We consistently have trouble with engineers not properly checking out and updating referenced drawings and models, causing the downstream "customer" (internal or external machine shops, builders, sales, management, etc) to only be able to see the out of date versions of these files when viewed in eDrawings or other viewers. Machining tends to catch most of them as they import the Solidworks model and if it doesn't match the print they start asking questions (sometimes the differences have to be quite obvious for them to notice the discrepancy). To the engineer everything looks gravy when they open things in Solidworks and print the drawings, so it's way too easy for them to miss checking out and saving everything necessary. I've talked to our VAR numerous times but have had no real solutions proposed on how to efficiently tackle this problem. Does anyone have a method they use to mitigate these kind of issues?

                   

                  When we purchased PDM Pro a few years ago, we assumed that it would eliminate this problem but after implementation and using it for awhile we still have the same issues. It seems like this problem would be quite prevalent across the Solidworks/PDM user base, but I haven't seen too much about it so I'm trying to figure out what we're missing that everyone else has figured out!

                   

                  If it matters, we are currently running Solidworks 2016 SP5 and SW-PDM Pro 2016 SP5 though we will be upgrading to SW and SW-PDM Pro 2018 SP4 in the near future.

                  Our document of record is a PDF file that is generated automatically when a SOLIDWORKS drawing is released or revised.  Printing SOLIDWORKS drawings here is a no-no.  Unless you have a full-blown ECR/ECO process that performs a complete where used analysis of every part that undergoes a change, you can never prevent the problem you describe if downstream users are opening/viewing SOLIDWORKS files.

                   

                  There is a setting for Users/Groups in EPDM under the Reference Dialog subcategory that can help (Always work with latest version of files) but it does not eliminate the risks entirely.

                    • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                      Adam Doerr

                      I've heard of some people using automatically created PDF drawings, but haven't been able to wrap my head around how this works. So the PDF creation occurs at a state change? Can you provide any further details on this process and how the PDF is created? I assume it's on the server that has a seat of Solidworks and is set to a "view only" setting so it doesn't update anything from external references?

                       

                      I will say that most of the problems occur at a sort of gray area in our process between engineering and machining/build during our "checking" process. We don't start putting revisions on our drawings until after they are released to machining/build. We've always known this gray area to be the biggest culprit of creating the type of mistakes I'm looking to eliminate, but it seems that adding a revision process here is always fought against by management as it pushes back the release date due to the additional time needed to add revisions. Lol, I'm kind of stuck in a hard place between management and engineering so hopefully whatever solution I find will appease both parties!

                       

                      We already use the "Always work with latest" setting, but like you said it doesn't eliminate the problem.

                        • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                          Jim Sculley

                          Adam Doerr wrote:

                           

                          I've heard of some people using automatically created PDF drawings, but haven't been able to wrap my head around how this works. So the PDF creation occurs at a state change? Can you provide any further details on this process and how the PDF is created? I assume it's on the server that has a seat of Solidworks and is set to a "view only" setting so it doesn't update anything from external references?

                           

                          I will say that most of the problems occur at a sort of gray area in our process between engineering and machining/build during our "checking" process. We don't start putting revisions on our drawings until after they are released to machining/build. We've always known this gray area to be the biggest culprit of creating the type of mistakes I'm looking to eliminate, but it seems that adding a revision process here is always fought against by management as it pushes back the release date due to the additional time needed to add revisions. Lol, I'm kind of stuck in a hard place between management and engineering so hopefully whatever solution I find will appease both parties!

                           

                          We already use the "Always work with latest" setting, but like you said it doesn't eliminate the problem.

                          There are a couple of ways to do it.  Some people use the Dispatch add-in that comes with EPDM and write dispatch scripts to do the job.  Your VAR may have an application engineer that can do this for you.  

                           

                          I don't care for Dispatch, so I wrote an EPDM add-in myself to do the work.  The PDF creation is one small part of a larger process associated with releasing parts.  We work in 'Work In Process' folders visible to Engineering only until the design is ready for release.  When a part (or assembly) is released, the part and its drawing (and all subcomponents/drawings if it is an assembly) are assigned a part number in our ERP system (automatically), the SW files are renamed with the part number and moved to folders organized by part number (automatically).  So, part/drawing number 400000 goes in the 400xxx folder, part/drawing 402111 goes in the 402xxx folder and so on.  Once everything is renamed and moved, the add-in opens the drawing(s) on the machine performing the release and generates the PDF(s). 

                           

                          When a drawing undergoes a state change to be revised, the add-in changes the state for the PDF as well.  When the drawing revision is completed via state change, the PDF is regenerated and overwrites the previous revision.  So, the drawings and PDFs are always at the same revision.

                           

                          You can go a step further and prevent downstream users from seeing the PDF file when the associated drawing is being revised (by changing the permissions on the state for the PDF).  This can prevent parts from being made to an old revision while changes are being made.

                           

                          All this still isn't enough though.  If you have BOMs visible on your assembly drawings, they can develop discrepancies when the parts are revised and the the assembly is not.  For example, if during a revision you change the description of a part and don't revise the assemblies where the part is used, the PDFs for those assemblies will still show the old description.  This is even worse if you have the part revision as a column in the BOM.  The assembly drawing will show the old revision number and the wrong part could be made.  Wihout the full-blown ECO/ECN process I mentioned previously, the only way I found to prevent this issue is to not display the BOM on the drawing.  We put our BOM on the drawing but outside the drawing border.  I have another add-in for BOM printing that will compare the BOM on the drawing with the computed BOM in EPDM.  Any discrepancies between the two are highlighted in red so that the person printing the BOM knows that something needs to be corrected.

                          • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                            John Wayman

                            Adam,

                            We use PDM Standard here.

                            We have it set to create a PDF of a drawing automatically whenever a drawing goes through the transition to 'Released'. The PDF filename is automatically set to include the Revision. The customers do not have access to the vault, the engineers have to copy the PDF to a 'place of safety' where the purchasing department can see them. In the case of STEP and DXF files, it is much more manual, because of the limitations of PDM Standard, but the same principles are applied.

                            The drawing formats are set so that they have a watermark that shows up in red, right across the face of the drawing sheet, showing the current state of the drawing - WIP, Pending, whatever - until the transition to 'Released'. Then, and only then, does the drawing sheet not have a nasty red splodge across it.

                            There is no overhead arising from having the state shown on the drawing, the only way someone else gets involved is in the final release check, which seems pretty much like the way you work now.

                            I think there is no silver bullet, but the watermark idea seems to yield a huge benefit for very little effort.

                            It's by no means foolproof, but it mostly works.

                             

                            SW 2018, SP4

                             

                            Hope this helps, and good luck.

                             

                            John

                        • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                          S. Casale

                          At present, 2018 SP3.0 there is no way to force users to get the latest of a file while viewing or checking it out.

                           

                          You can force all users to get the latest of specific folders when they log-in though. This is a good thing to do for standard files that are shared across PDM (e.g. part, assembly, and drawing templates, toolbox parts and settings, and etc.). This is done using the refresh cache during log-in. Make sure you get a good understanding of the difference between working in the vault and working on your local, also understood as working on-line or working off-line.

                           


                            • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                              Adam Doerr

                              We used this setting at first but being a relatively new feature it had many shortcomings when we started in SPDM Pro 2015. It requires people to log in/out consistently (many leave their computers logged in and always on) and tended to make the computer look like it was locked up when first navigating the Vault while it updated the cache. I haven't revisited it recently but plan to at some point.

                                • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                                  John Wayman

                                  "You can force all users to get the latest of specific folders when they log-in though. This is a good thing to do for standard files that are shared across PDM (e.g. part, assembly, and drawing templates, toolbox parts and settings, and etc.). This is done using the refresh cache during log-in."

                                   

                                  Yes, doesn't it make your computer 'hang up' for a considerable length of time whilst it updates the cache, Scott?

                                  Or am I worrying too much (hopeful face emoji)?

                                   

                                  John

                                    • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                                      John Wayman

                                      "You can force all users to get the latest of specific folders when they log-in though. This is a good thing to do for standard files that are shared across PDM (e.g. part, assembly, and drawing templates, toolbox parts and settings, and etc.). This is done using the refresh cache during log-in."

                                       

                                      Also, how does the use of this option affect those objects that the user has modified but not yet checked in?

                                      For example, when a piece of software (Solidworks, for example) crashes and the user needs to re-boot his PC. Does the cache refresh over-write anything saved but not checked in?

                                       

                                      John

                                        • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                                          Frederick Law

                                          Wayman John wrote:

                                           

                                          Yes, doesn't it make your computer 'hang up' for a considerable length of time whilst it updates the cache, Scott?

                                          Or am I worrying too much (hopeful face emoji)?

                                           

                                          Usually not, it only updated changed files. Not copying everything again.

                                           

                                          Also, how does the use of this option affect those objects that the user has modified but not yet checked in?

                                          For example, when a piece of software (Solidworks, for example) crashes and the user needs to re-boot his PC. Does the cache refresh over-write anything saved but not checked in?

                                           

                                          No, if the file was checked out properly.  PDM will not allow anyone to modify server copy, until the check out is check in again.  If the use lost the file due to crash, admin can remove the check out without check in a new file.  User then can check out the old version.  User could also update server version without checking in the file.

                                  • Re: Looking for methods to ensure all drawings and referenced models are up to date for non-Solidworks users
                                    Frederick Law

                                    Before the drawing is released or marked as releasable, the drawing should be marked 'Preliminary' or 'Reference Only'.

                                    Anyone in machine shop caught with such drawing will lose a day's pay