43 Replies Latest reply on Jun 27, 2015 10:44 AM by Scott Keith

    Trouble understanding 'Items'

    Brian Dalton

      I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around 'Items' in EPDM.  The skimpy and cryptic material in the Admin manual just increases my confusion.  I'm hoping that some of the experienced vets here can answer some of my questions - I get the feeling that items may be a very flexible and useful construct but what they really are and what can really be done with them is quite elusive.  I don't have an EPDM installation to play with at this time (we're in the process of planning to get one) so all I have to go on is what info I can get my hands on here on the net.

       

      Let me start with a few basic questions.

       

      What exactly are Items?  The admin manual 'defines' them by stating that "Items capture a complete product definition".  This qualifies as one of the least useful descriptions in history.  I have gathered that an Item is a data card that may or may not be associated with a file.  Is that all?

       

      I've read that Items may have their own Bills of Material.  What would go into that BOM?  Assemblies have BOMs based on the parts and subassemblies that are referenced by the assembly.  How does such a relationship exist for an Item?  What sort of things can go into an 'Item BOM' and how would one get them in there?

       

      I'll stop there and hopefully some answers will help to clarify this a bit for me.  My sincere thanks in advance to all who are willing to provide their own insights.

       

      Brian-

        • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
          Devon Sowell

          Hello Brian-

           

          Here's how I've experienced the use of Items in an R & D environment;

           

          • An R & D project is driven by the Sales Dept.
          • "Items" are created in a PLM application such as Agile
          • Remember, Sales people aren't engineers
          • So, they'll "define" the R & D project using Items
          • Items have numbers
          • Items can contain anything
          • For example, the Item created by the Sales Dept. will contain all the files describing what the Sales Dept. wants in the new product.
          • Next create an Item in Enterprise, using the same Item number given above and import all the Sales files.
          • Check In to EPDM
          • Now begin to add the CAD files to the Items
          • Begin to manage this Item; iterate, review, iterate, review, revision.....

          Ohers may share different methods.

           

          In my 2010 SolidWorks PDM book I demonstrate one use of Items in EPDM.

           

          Cheers,

          Devon Sowell

          http://www.pdmsolution.com

            • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
              Brian Dalton

              Thanks for the reply, Devon.  I think I'm missing some more basic concepts of items, though.  For instance, you say to import files into the item.  How is this done?  Does this mean that the item is a file that contains the other files?  Do these other files need to be placed in the vault? How do these imported files relate to the item card?

               

              I would ask the same questions regarding the placing of CAD files 'into the item'...  I guess I'm just missing what is meant by putting files into other files or items, if an item is a card without an associated file.

               

              Sorry for being so dense.  I would really like a detailed, elementary explanation of what an Item is.

               

              Brian-

                • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                  Devon Sowell

                  I would really like a detailed, elementary explanation of what an Item is.

                   

                  I just did

                   

                  Start here, the EPDM Item Explorer

                   

                  Devon

                   

                  EPDM-ITEM-EXPLORER.png

                    • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                      Brian Dalton

                      Well, as I mentioned before, we don't have EPDM yet so I don't have Item Explorer.  Your previous post was an example of a possible use of Items but did not explain how those things are done nor did it answer the questions I asked.  I appreciate the effort but I think you've missed my meaning.

                        • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                          Devon Sowell

                          Without the software at hand, you'd need about 10 screenshots plus text.

                           

                          I agree, the help file is not very helpful on this subject.

                           

                          Attached is the Table of Contents from my 2010 SolidWorks PDM Book/DVD, it shows step by step the process.

                           

                          Cheers,

                          Devon Sowell

                          http://www.pdmsolution.com

                            • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                              Brian Dalton

                              OK, here's a simple question.

                               

                              Can one define different kinds of items?  For instance, if you can create a data card to go along with an item, can you create more than one data card (each with its own variables and fields) for different kinds of items and specify which kind of item you want when you create it?

                               

                              I.e, an inventory item would be attached to an inventory item data card and an ECO item would be attached to an ECO item data card.

                               

                              Brian-

                                • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                  Jeff Sweeney

                                  You may have as many items associated with a file as you wish.

                                  • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                    Raghavendra Bhagavan.S.M

                                    You cannot have multiple Item data cards, How ever you can attach many items to one file or Many files to one Item.

                                     

                                    Cheers !

                                    Bhagavan

                                      • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                        Brian Dalton

                                        If this is true, then I wonder how useful Items could be.  If one could define different types of Items, each with a different set of fields and each assigned to a different category, you would have the ability to create fully customizable data structures that would open up vast possibilities for extended use of the EPDM system.  Without these abilities, Items are essentially just generic boxes to throw files into.  I can't see how they would be better than folders.

                                        • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                          Jason Capriotti

                                          That's not exactly true......I've created multiple Item cards......if you save them in different folders in your item structure, items in that folder will use that card....just like file cards. File cards just have the extra ability to set the card in use by extension. I just tested this in 2010 sp3.....so maybe 2009 can't do this.

                                           

                                          We aren't using Items yet but plan to. Or existing mainframe system stores records for part numbers. We plan to migrate in our part numbers to items. Our legacy system also has BOMs between those parts which we plan to bring across as linked references between the items. Then we'll link the drawings to the items.

                                           

                                          Not everyone needs items but some do for various reasons. For us, we have multiple part numbers on a drawing. If its SolidWorks, we may be able to represent all of them with configurations but many of our drawings are still AutoCAD, Word, Excel, or scanned tifs and thus we have one drawing file with no way to show the individual parts as records. We need to be able to build our product structure so we can do a "Where-used" search and items will allow for us to do this.

                                           

                                          We also have a very convoluted and complicated product structure based on a very customizable product (Elevators). There are many options available to customer based on size and options. While we build assemblies of these products, we cannot possibly include every option in the 3d model assembly. We show a generic drawing with some options. The Part Item assembly BOM has to reflect every option though and SolidWorks just isn't capable of that.

                                            • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                              Brian Dalton

                                              from Jason-

                                              "...I've created multiple Item cards......if you save them in different folders in your item structure, items in that folder will use that card....just like file cards..."

                                               

                                              You can save cards in folders?  I thought they were just definitions in the database.

                                               

                                              Also, when you say folders, do you mean regular (file) folders or item folders?

                                                • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                  Jason Capriotti

                                                  Well....you don't save them in the folder exactly....at least they don't showup when you're browse the files. In the card editor, when you save it, there is a folder structure that matches the file folder structure. When you save a card in a folder, all files or items in that folder and sub folders use that card. Its just the method ePDM uses to determine which files and items use certain cards. That and the file cards have an additional option to base cards on file extension.....so you can have a different file card for DWG versus SLDDRW files in the same folder.

                                                   

                                                  So you may have some generic cards for most everything saved at the root level, then more specific cards at certain folder levels.

                                                    • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                      Brian Dalton

                                                      Interesting... so can a file contain an Item?

                                                        • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                          Jason Capriotti

                                                          I don't think so.....you can't even see Items unless you use the Item Explorer. And you don't see files in the Item explorer unless you've linked them to an item, then it shows underneath the item.

                                                            • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                              Brian Dalton

                                                              Hmmm, I see.

                                                               

                                                              Well, given the many severe limitations to what one can do with Items, I guess I should probably just ignore them.  There are many things I'd like to do with EPDM and it seems like there just isn't any way to get them done with Items.  I had hoped that they would be a flexible data object that could be used to create a wide variety of functionality, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

                                                               

                                                              Thanks to all who offered their assistance.

                                                               

                                                              Brian-

                                                                • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                                  Jason Capriotti

                                                                  What is it you need to do?

                                                                   

                                                                  Items can be used many different things but I think of them as a container for a part. They represent the part and many different documents related to teh part can be attached to them.

                                                                   

                                                                  You may have a bracket part. So you create a bracket item. Then you attach all the related documents that go along with it:

                                                                  • Material specs (Word file)
                                                                  • Inspection Document (Word file)
                                                                  • Engineering model (Solidworks part)
                                                                  • Engineering Drawing (Solidworks drawing)
                                                                  • ECO document that released it (Excel file)
                                                                  • Manufacturing Process Spec (Word file)

                                                                   

                                                                  etc.......

                                                                    • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                                      Brian Dalton

                                                                      Largely what I'm hoping to do is to be able to use EPDM as a foundation for controlling processes like Work Orders, Machine Shop Orders, Engineering Change Orders, Inventory, etc.  Much of this could be done just by the old-fashioned method of creating static documents (like Word docs or Excel sheets) and then just putting them into the vault.  That seems to me it would be essentially dumping them into a box with a label on it, which I can achieve by creating folders to organize things.  I have experience with the sorts of things that databases can do when the info is placed into them 'live' such that it can be used and related in a dynamic way, and I'd like to be able to do that sort of thing with EPDM (it's built on a full featured DB platform after all) but it seems only to be able to comprehensively handle native SW data.

                                                                       

                                                                      We also have electronic engineering data and control software, all of which will be used together in the complete product system.  I'd like to be able to integrate them all into a unified structure that would allow all the parts to be dealt with dynamically and intelligently.  It seems that making an Item and putting all the things in it is no more powerful than putting a label on a box and dumping all the documents in it.

                                                                       

                                                                      OK, a more detailed example of what I'd like to do.  I want to define an Item that would be a Work Order Item.  It would have a variety of data properties associated with it which would be simple fields - only one of each field per WO Item.  If I create a WO Item card and variables to map to it, I have my simple fields but apparently no way to define the Item as specifically a WO Item and so no way to ensure that it would always benefit from that particular card.  From what you say, I would need to have the Item in a folder where that particular card was saved in order to ensure that the Item used that card.  That would be OK if I created a Work Orders folder and put all my WO Items in that folder.

                                                                       

                                                                      BUT....  The Work Order also needs to have a list of the products that are to be built under that Work Order.  Each product in that list would consist of an assembly (fine, I could link the assembly file) but also certain simple fields that would be associated with the product - in the context of the Work Order - such as Qty required, Project assignment, Responsible Authority.  Since there would need to be more than one product in the list it can't be the simple fields created by the WO Card.  My thought was that I would define another kind of Item which I could call a WO Entry Item.  This item would have its own card (with the simple fields Qty, Project, etc) and would contain {or link to, I'm not sure if there's a difference} the assembly file.  Then, the WO Item could contain any number of these WO Entry Items.

                                                                       

                                                                      The problem here is that the WO Entry Items would be in the folder where the WO Item is, so they would use the WO Card and not their own WO Entry Card.

                                                                       

                                                                      Unless, as just occurred to me, the WO Entry Items could be placed together in their own WO Entry folders, then linked to by the appropriate WO Item... is that possible?  It's not clear to me if linking an Item to a parent Item is the same as having it in the parent folder, or not.

                                                                       

                                                                      Basically, I"m looking for the kind of hierarchical data structures you can get with a relational database, but using the tools that are built in to EPDM.  I know nothing about API programming and my superiors would be decidedly unimpressed by the revelation that any functionality beyond the basic management of SW files would require paying outside programmers to customize the system for us.

                                                                        • Re: Trouble understanding 'Items'
                                                                          Phil Morris

                                                                          I haven't looked into Items too far but I have used virtual documents (which can have a variety of extensions and therefore data cards) to create digital work orders. We have it set up so they have a separate workflow that is specific to the production floor and they're linked through references to the relevant documents (drawings, models, etc.)

                                                                           

                                                                          Screen shot of the data card for a basic work order (virtual document):

                                                                          Work Order Data Card.JPG

                                                                          The extension for that doc is .wo.cvd. I also have a different data card for assemblies, the extension for those is .woa.cvd.

                                                                           

                                                                          All the buttons trigger little API add-ins that either change variables, change workflow states or open files through the reference tree. This feature has become quite handy. If you haven't learned how to use the API I highly recommend taking a class and getting into it. It's really easy once you know how and the tools are nearly exhaustive. I have to warn you though, I have the API doing all the little operations like "paste as reference" and creating the files. This would be really tedious if it wasn't automated through API programs.

                                                                           

                                                                          After looking at Jeff's series (linked in a post above,) I probably could have achieved the same result using the items and less programming.