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Comprehensive product variants, SW configurations and ERP integration

Question asked by Martin Jensen on Feb 4, 2020

Hi SW forums


We are in the process of setting up an ERP system. Solidworks will be integrated with ERP (through Customtools) with automatic creation/update of items and BOM.
- Item number will be created in the ERP based on SW-filename and the active configuration.
- During creation of item, ERP sends back the newly created item number to SW as a custom property.
This setup have been tested and is working.


We make water treatment systems. Most of our piping is offered in three different materials. The only difference is the material, we either use ASTM 403 fittings for all three materials or bend the pipes with same radius. So we've always just made one set of drawings, and let the procurement/project-management decide the correct material.
Most of our instrumentation, pumps etc. have two or more manufacturers. When we use these components, we mark it "generic component" so that the procurement/project-management know they will have decide the correct option.


Our systems consists of many sub-modules, many of these modules have variations (made as SW configurations) - we design each module as a "standard module" (with configurations if there a any variation of that module).


I store the production material (PDF, STEP, DXF etc.) on a shared drive. Procurement/project then grabs a copy of production material for each module and it's variation that they need for a specific project.
When we make changes to a product, we update the production material (pre-project) so that the following projects use the latest version.


The issue we have now (or when we go live on the ERP):
I've been "asked" to handle all project-specific production material, then export it to ERP and production-files to a project folder.
So I have to make an assembly with each module with correct variation, correct material and instrumentation/pumps etc. - That top-assembly will be without any mating/references, it just acts as a container for the modules needed.


This also means we have to make every pipe-assembly and drawing in three different materials, but with the exact same geometry (and if one is being updated, so has the other two)
All flanges we use are "loose" (not welded to the pipe) and always in the same material (316L), but the piping/fittings can be different - flanges + pipe/fittings are located in the same assembly for each pipe spool.


I made a test with one "project-assembly"
- An entire hierarchical BOM (representing the way its build in SW with sub-assemblies) has 1600 lines
- that one had almost 250 unique files that would be available in three different materials, I will have to set correct material on each
- Approx 40 unique pumps/instrumentation etc. with more than one manufacturer, I will have to set correct model
- Each pipe-assembly and pump/instrumentation can be used in multiple places in same or different module. We won't be using two different materials or manufacturers of the same pipe/component in different places.


We are not allowed to make duplicated items in ERP (let's say same fitting or pump created twice in ERP)
Two different SW files must not refer to same item in ERP (default variable-value "ERP item # custom property" for new components is set to blank in PDM file card)
Any component that are not previously created in ERP must be created (item and or BOM)
- so all "top-assemblies" of our modules, since sub-assemblies with pipes will change, configuration will change, instrumentation/pumps etc.


We'll (probably) be making a Pack'n'go of each entire project-assembly (containing all modules with correct variation/material) - this will be stored on a separate drive. That way we will be able to open previous projects in SW (currently only PDF, step etc.), and eventually be able to make changes.
We will not make an entire copy of (copy tree in PDM or copy with customtools) an project-assembly to be stored in PDM. This will result in the "ERP item# custom property" to be set blank (as I've set it up now, which I believe is the best), and that files will be duplicated - making it harder for us to know which file is the correct one in our standard product.
If I edit anything in the pack'n'go (that's stored outside of PDM), I'll manually have to reset the "ERP item # custom property" (or manually update with correct item number) on that specific component and associated assemblies - since that property is only set to blank when making a new file (incl. a copy) in PDM.


Does anyone have any idea on how we handle this most efficiently - as little time as possible, and as little data discipline required
Especially the material specific one that are identical. One thing is creating 3x250 identical assemblies but with different material, but I'll also have to update each variation if changes are needed.
I think this will be too comprehensive to handle with configurations.




Our setup is:
Solidworks professional
PDM professional