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Managing part files without PDM

Question asked by Bryan Weitzenkamp on Nov 28, 2018
Latest reply on Aug 6, 2020 by Dario Karalic



I have recently been given the responsibility of managing changes on a machine and it's accompanying files (Parts, Drawings, and Assemblies). I was initially very nonplussed to get this project because it is a notoriously complicated and poor revision control has been maintained on the machine. I mean, I heard people complaning about managing the machine years before I even joined the department. The machine is approximately 10 years old, has approximately 5,000 total parts on it, there are 5 different versions of it, 12 different builds and there are about 12 different machine change over kits per machine consisting of approximately 70 parts each in various states (assemblies, or individual parts).


In the past two years, the machine responsibility has been passed between 5 different new engineers (that have worked for a while and quit) and 2 interns to make modifications on the machine and the result is our revision control has been terribly documented causing me not to know what drawings have actually changed. There have been a lot of model and drawings changes that were not documented correctly.


Because of this, I will probably have to go with the nuclear option of revision control and basically change the rev on every drawing on the machine and report to our drafting department that I had "revised and redrawn" all the drawings.


We do not have Solidworks PDM. There are enough gatekeepers and bridge trolls guarding aerospace, automotive, military and medical industry standards we need to meet that I doubt it will be implemented any time soon due to the monolithic pillar of documents that would need to be changed.


Boiling it down into bullet points, here is the situation:

  • Machine models, assemblies and drawings have been changed by many inexperienced people. Most of which have packed their bags and moved on.
    • File time stamps have been written after the last rev.
    • Notes were visible that were not on the last rev but not listed in our document change system.
    • Dimensions and models have changed from the last rev but not listed in our document change system.
  • We do not have Solidworks PDM and do not plan on getting it.
  • Machine files (Parts, Drawings, Assemblies) are stored on a server where anyone that can use Solidworks and knows the directory can open it and change it.


Tl;Dr: How do other people/companies manage part files on a server without PDM? Is there any way I can mark these files as "read only" so people can view them but can't change them? Since this project has been such a problem, I'd like to really attack this mess, clean it up as best as I can and basically maintain an authoritarian grip over it so this doesn't happen again.