15 Replies Latest reply on Oct 25, 2012 3:09 PM by Tim Webb

    EPDM acting as MRP system

    Alison Hilditch

      Hello People of the SolidWorks Forum!


      I was wondering if a company can use the EPDM System that currently exists as a replacement for the MRP and if so, what functionality would it have. We currently use M2M and I am well aware that EPDM and M2M are somewhat itegratable, but I am curious to know if M2M can be completely dumped as we would rather use a single system (and harbor very little love towards M2M, besides). I have gone through the set up and administrating of the vault for the Engineering department and Purchasing has become interested in EPDM capibilities. Any information or direction towards information would be exceedingly helpful!


      Thank you,



        • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
          Steve Ostrovsky

          I think it would all depend on what functions M2M performed for you and can you duplicate those in EPDM. I've started seeing EPDM as a "What can't we do system" instead of what are its limitations. Lay out a functions list and there's a good chance that EPDM can somehow re-create those functions.


          I know I've done Customer Ordering scenarios in EPDM where a clerical person enters an order via an EPDM Template that creates a folder structure with all of the customer info already populated. Standard files are created with customer/order info already inserted and the users just need to go through their modeling, review, approve process.


          Quotes are just just Word/Excel docs that can also run through EPDM.


          Again, it really depends on the level of need you currently have in M2M.

          • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
            Tim Webb

            I use it for new project quoting, project specification, change requests, ECO/ECN, and job card (task card) routing.


            • Use the state names to represent where the job cards are in the facility
            • Use paste shared for engineering drawings pasted into a vendor folders (web client) area of EPDM that an addin watches. The addin watches files as they transition out of "Released" and scans the vendor folders for those files and if found, sends them an email notification to alert the vendor and supply chain that they are working on parts that are changing.
            • New project templates for creating standardized folder structure for engineering as well as Doc control.
            • Parts tracking uses the data card to show status of WIP. Use quick loop back states to stamp the data card with WIP when the job cards are in the different shops then I use that variable from the data card in my column set so managers can run reports on WIP.


            It has only taken 8 months to get all this in place too!

              • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                Alison Hilditch

                That's impressive for only 8 months! So do you rely heavilly on APIs? I'm just breaching into that area of EPDM and am trying to decide what language would be best learned (slightly off discussion topic, sorry). You say that you use it for project quoting, is that for incomming products or outgoing products, or does your system take care of both? My company is constantly having custom parts made and the quotes and POs are stacking up during this time of company growth and one of the benefits of EPDM  for Purchasing (I believe) will be the preview of models, drawings, and BOMs.

                  • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                    Tim Webb

                    Hi Alison


                    Thanks but none of it would "stick" if the facility weren't ripe for the implementation. We have experienced 30% growth for the last two years and expect to continue. Making sustainable processes is the highest priority right now (along with product delivery).


                    Project Quoting - incoming. The leadership team has folders and templates setup for their use only and visible only to them.


                    I would NOT recommend relying on addins heavily. I repeat: I would NOT recommend relying on addins heavily.


                    From my experience, upward compatibility can be an issue even when written correctly. The first two of the addins below are triggered on the post_state (change state) hook and intercept the command, do a little validation, then log in as the Admin user and continue running with the reference to the vault the Admin logged in on.


                    A sobering thought is creating an addin to run unattended and "trusting" that all the departments who create the data your addin uses; whether engineering, or supply chain, or project engineers, etc. there better be a no kidding planning process of implementing an addin with failsafes built in. Also, I make the addins email me with results when they run (pass/fail) to ensure I keep my finger on the pulse.


                    There are other reasons to avoid a lot of addins but these are the two highest priority reasons I have experienced.


                    Ok now that I've made that disclaimer!


                    During week #2 of being here I created a support request system to start capturing the requests for help because demand was so high and my Outlook inbox was filling up and I was so far behind. Then I used this system 3-4 months in to prioritize and measure my performance based on incoming vs. resolved rate. Now I just provide this graph to the leadership team on a monthly basis.


                    I do not rely heavily on addins but I do use a few written in VB.Net. They are as follows:


                    1. SupportTicketSystem.DLL - used to send a verbose email to the author when the ticket is routed. I used this instead of the built in messaging system because there was not a really "good" out of the box method for monitoring when the support requests are routed to other departments that was verbose with updates each department adds to the support request data card.


                    2. NotifyVendorOnREV.DLL - Addin for notifying vendors when drawings transition out of the "Released" state. I use a template for supply chain to use to request drawings and STEP/IGS files to send to vendors for machining. I also use the web client to give the machine shop vendors access into our system. They can only see their folder. Then when supply chain requests files for specific vendors, document control "pastes shared" files of the released drawings into their folder. The addin scans the folder when the drawing REV's and sends them an email alerting them about the coming change. There's no STOP build or disposition of inventory/stock yet but that will happen someday when we integrate ERP with EPDM.


                    3. CreateJobCardsFromExcel.DLL - Addin for creating a batch (10, 25, 50, 100, 500, 750 or more) of job cards at one time from a pre-formatted job card request form. I use a template to receive the incoming job card requests from production so there is one vehicle for incoming requests vs. everyone using email or a non-standardized spreadsheet.


                    4. WhereShared.DLL - Addin used to tell the user where files are shared.


                    Right now I am laying the foundation for integrating EPDM deeply into operations so all departments have one data source. It's much more efficient than when I began and there is a lot of buy-in.


                    Hope this helps.


                      • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                        Alison Hilditch

                        This helps more than I can say, Tim! So far I'm just using the "out of the box" program and customizing as our system is in its infancy, but I can see the benefit of Add-ins like the ones you have; especially the Notify Vendor and Job cards. Based on, "Right now I am laying the foundation for integrating EPDM deeply into operations", are you are using EPDM to manage the workflow for every department? That's been the thought I've been pondering on.  From Steve's posts I have learned that much is possible, but have you encountered any severe issues when using EPDM for a certain process? I suppose I'm trying to loacte the boundaries of my landscape (if any).

                          • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                            Tim Webb

                            I'm glad it's a help Alison. The only real issues I have consistently faced over the last 6 years of administering EPDM is "Where do I draw the line and say 'EPDM doesn't need to handle that'?" and "How can I get these diverse departments on board with this?"


                            You will need to do the Columbus method of discovering those boundaries with "your specific implementation", personnel at your facility, and the different teams you work with. Administering EPDM is easy. People are the challenge. I wouldn't want to limit your vision based on the limits of my vision. It's a form of marketing & PR.


                            • There will ALWAYS be people who will NOT work in the EPDM system even after you implement a process for them. ALWAYS. Expect it, plan for it, and create failsafes to handle it.
                            • You'll have to learn how each team learns and works, how to work with department leads, encouraging teams through "The Sid Story" and how to elevate performance by posting measures.
                            • Asking a question goes further than making mandates.
                            • Making a solid business case for the implementation is challenging at times because this is so virtual and hard to measure.
                            • I have found that the old "This is what we used to do and this is what we can do with EPDM at 1/10th the cost..." goes far BUT make sure you can prove it!!
                            • Be cautious not to oversell yourself or EPDM by saying "We will deliver product 2 months earlier than we used to!"
                            • Manage expectations at every level at every opportunity.
                            • Avoid being the proverbial librarian who wants all the books on the shelves and nobody in the library.


                            We are using EPDM heavily. It really is an Enterprise level solution your operations can grow into rather than a system your operations can grow out of. There are strengths and weaknesses of every system and you will have to measure these against your facility.



                              • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                                Alison Hilditch

                                Wisdom of the ages for sure! Being new to this rodeo, I'm a bit overwhelmed with the amount of possibility. My only option is to dive in head first. Thank you for the pointers. That's the one thing that's missing from the admin guides, training manuals, and tutorials: advice. Where to start, how to deal, examples of administrating. That's why I love these forums so much!

                        • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                          David Goode

                          Hi Tim

                               Just read your post re using EPDM for ECO/ECN. Could you expand a bit on how you have achieved this.





                            • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                              Tim Webb

                              Hi Dave


                              I apologize, I never saw this post and did not intentionally leave you hanging. Here's the process I've used:


                              • Configuration Manager (CM) uses an EPDM template to generate new ECO
                              • EPDM Template runs to create the ECO folder and Word document from a Word document template with filename as a new serial number with format "ECO-####". There are internal form fields (bookmarks) that update from the data card upon open.
                              • CM fills in relevant data inside ECO, saves, checks in, & transitions into an approval workflow NOTE: ECO remains read only through approval workflow cycle (only editable by CM at initiation, ready for action, & closure)
                              • ECO gathers names & dates (electronic signatures) through approval workflow on the data card fields
                              • When finally approved the CM checks out the ECO and all the approval signatures & dates from data card push into the form fields inside the Word document
                              • CM checks in the ECO and transitions to engineering work in process
                              • By process, CM then transitions affected drawings to an edit state for work to be done according to ECO-####. If additional drawings are affected besides the ones originally identified, CM updates ECO & transitions them to edit state.
                              • When work is completed, the work completed is compared with approved ECO work and the ECO is transitioned to closed state
                              • A custom add-in converts the Word ECO to PDF, copies it to the intranet for viewing, and sends an email to the ECO Notification group in EPDM to ensure they get the communication.


                              The most important part of this process is the role of who will be the collector and distributor. The hub.


                              Best regards,


                                • Re: EPDM acting as MRP system
                                  Corey Hinman

                                  In basic steps we are very similar in our process, except that I use a CAD Work Order system (think of a mini-ECR) to drive cad changes. The Work order and the cad files move together from "production", back through WIP and approval.


                                  CAD is just a small part of our ECR system, but the users have the option of creating a Work Order and ECR together, that will plug each others' number into their data card.


                                  It works very well.