We are a small manufacturing company that is heavily in R&D and I'm looking for a bit of advice on how other people are tracking individual builds using PDM?
The challenge we have is that every machine we produce can be different (sometimes substantially) than the last. Even though it is the same machine, we are developing the technology so quickly, that we are constantly making changes that will effect a new build. This makes keeping records of the older builds challenging, especially when maintenance or modifications have to be done to these machines.
As an example... We have a machine that has been in the field for 3 years and has a break down where a part needs to be replaced. If I open up the latest assembly in my vault, that part has most likely been updated to a new revision over the last 3 years that will not be compatible with the part needing to be replaced. If we don't track the effectively, we will send the customer a part that will not work.
Currently, we have been tracking this with paper "build binders", which are created at the time of manufacture and a record of what is in each build. However, I find this very clunky and hard to keep current as maintenance or modifications are made. The other challenge, is this doesn't keep a current solidworks assembly I can open up and modify if needed.
So big question is how are other people dealing with this? The best option I have found is using the branch functionality to branch off the "master assembly" into as serialized assembly that can be referenced and modified in future. The challenge I see with this is ensuring that when this branched assembly is opened it references all the as built parts and sub assemblies and not the latest versions.
This option seems workable, but a bit clunky so I'm curious if there are other best practices for this before I commit to a strategy.
Thanks for the help and advice in advance, looking forward to how people are managing this.