I just started as a manufacturing and production engineer with a new company that uses Solidworks throughout the entire design project. My job will require me to design fixturing for various parts through a number of production process as well as some process automation design. I come from a company doing exactly that but using Pro/e (I have roughly 8 years using Pro). My new employer paid for me to take the Solidworks essentials class, and it quickly brought me up to speed on the interface and the work flow. However I need to learn assembly modeling (or Top Down Design) in Solidworks but have so far had a very tough time finding tutorials or information on this. Our VAR doesn't offer the advanced assemblies class in our area, and the location where they will hold that class (130mi from me) won't offer it until the middle of November. What I need to learn (please excuse the Pro/e terminology here) is what Solidworks equivalent of a skeleton part is (placed at the top of an assembly) and how to create the datum or reference features (planes, points, axes) including coordinate systems for locating the sub assemblies and parts. Also, how that reference geometry is copied into parts and sub assemblies with and without associativity. I have Solidworks files of parts I'm going to have to design some dynamic machining and polishing fixtures around and I am at a bit of a loss where to begin. Can someone point me to a source for information on how to do any of these things?
FWIW The other engineers and designers don't model this way. They create parts then assemble them bottom up with little regard for each parts relation to a coordinate system or associativity to other parts. This creates numerous problems for us on the production floor and I'd love to change this but need to teach them how. The other day when I mentioned the top down method, they looked at me like I was speaking an obscure Klingon dialect.