Does anyone use Windchill to control SolidWorks files? Do you have any good or bad things to say about it? Have you also used EPDM and have anything good/bad to say about that in comparison? Thanks for any input.
I am very interested in this topic. I use Windchill, but only to manage Pro-E (Creo) files. However we have (yea!) purchased SW 2012 and I am eager to begin using it.
I understand that you need an add-in called "Windchill Workgroup Manager for SolidWorks", and we are looking at getting that, as well.
I hope there is a robust discussion of this topic!
Bump to see if there are any replies.
We're using Windchill with Solidworks 2014. We had used it with Solidworks 2013. We had a lot of trouble initially. our Windchill support is at our company's India location. So, we have time zone delays sometimes to.
It's OK, but not great. EPDM was much easier to use with Solidworks. Our company has picked Windchill as the corporate solution. I think our location is the only one that is using Windchill and Solidworks even though we are not the only location in our company using Solidworks. It is better than working with multiple users off a network drive. It does let us get older versions. It is not at all intuitive and we have lost data with people not understanding how to use it.
If you use it, a best practice is to make sure that you close out all files from Solidworks before doing an update.
Make sure you have the latest files before starting work. Check for out of date.
Also, it is very bad about pop under windows. If you try to save something you have not checked out, the "do you want to check this out" window may pop under rather than on top. I have spent quite some time waiting for Solidworks only to realize there was a pop under window causing the delay.
Our Windchill support says to use the "open from Windchill" rather than just open. This doesn't give you preview options and won't shorten the list if you start typing the name until you have added the * wildcard. Also, ENT* is different from ent* when you are trying to do that. (It seems to be case sensitive on the sort, but you can't use the same filename with one in caps and the other lower case). You can have the open dialog use a particular view, but when you restart, it goes back to the list of filenames only.
I also currently have a question in to my Windchill support people on how I managed to check out and modify and check in not the latest version of something. It was in the process of being promoted, which may be the reason it happened, but I would say we don't have our release process really working yet.
I have an odd thing where I lose descriptions on parts when doing a save as. I don't know if this is Windchill or just me having odd results with Solidworks. My co-workers don't see this happening.
We also don't have things set up where we can see descriptions and other properties in Windchill.
We are using a skeleton part inserted at the beginning of each part. It seems to be keeping that relation, but it does default to leaving the external references at ->? instead of resolving them.
I just left a contract job at a different company that used Windchill (10.2 I think) and WGM for handling SolidWorks files. They seemed to have a lot of it working OK. They used WT parts for all the BOM information. They did not drive that directly from the SolidWorks assemblies. The assemblies tended to be fairly small, so it wasn't a big deal to upload the BOM and then check that the BOM under the WT part was correct. There was one division that was driving the BOMs under the WT parts from SolidWorks but they had to check that everything was coming in correctly and there weren't things missing from the BOM under the WT part that were part of the SolidWorks BOM.
Windchill has a Number, Name, and Filename (Filename only for things like SolidWorks files or PDFs. WT parts don't have filenames)
There couldn't be two things with the same Number. (At a previous company, we had tried using the AutoAssociate capability to associate the CAD to the WT part but had trouble with inseparable assemblies where we were using the same part number for the SLDPRT and SLDASM, for example sheetmetal with a captive nut)
WT parts got the actual part number as its Number. It was system generated. The description was the Name.
SolidWorks files had a different Number also system generated. The Filename was the WT part Number.SLD***. The Name was the description and matched the WT part Name.
Each WT part also had a Windchill Document. This was what the PDF of the drawing and Step files would be attached to.
The association between the WT part and the SolidWorks files was done manually using the AutoAssociate button in the Workspace.
So for a bracket, you would have a WT part, which had the related SolidWorks part and drawing, a described by document with a PDF and Step file. These would all release on a ECN together.
Something that you had to be careful of, you could get mismatched revisions if you didn't associate the correct revision to your WT part or didn't revise everything together.
There is a setting you can set so that files you don't have checked out initially enter your Workspace as Locked. They will then open read only in SolidWorks.
Also, Windchill tends to have a very confusing menu structure and things are not intuitive. So, keep that in mind if you are using it.
Does anyone have any further comments about the good and bad of using PDMLink, I am doing some research on if it's a good idea or not.
Unless you have a very, very, very strong reason to use Windchill (all the rest of the company is using it and things release in Windchill, and BOMs are pulled from Windchill, etc), I would not use it with SolidWorks. There is a lot of set up required and it is not intuitive to use.
We are still using Windchill with SolidWorks 2014. We only have two projects that are doing that though. We finally convinced our company to buy EPDM, so that should be implemented in the next few months. At that time, we will use that for SolidWorks and Windchill for Creo. One of the other groups in our company is also using Windchill with SolidWorks, but they just use it for version control.
Windchill can now support SolidWorks 2015 at our company (but until last month that wasn't an option) but we aren't putting any SW 2015 files into Windchill. We are using workgroup PDM to control our SW 2015 files until we get EPDM. I think the latest version of Windchill will support SW 2016, but that just came out and we only have that on a test server.
The good - you get revision control and can set up workflows. We haven't set things up right yet to be able to use any of the BOM export functionality. We're supposed to have PDFs created when drawings are put in, but I don't know how to get all the drawings for an assembly in PDF format. Windchill is very customizable, so you can get exactly what you want. Also, we have users around the world. We can give them access to the Product as needed and they can see our latest (or released) files.
The bad - you have to use Windchill Workgroup Manager. This is kind of a browser based tool. We've had a lot of trouble with Internet Explorer being the wrong version even though it is supposed to be supported. We have had this trouble with both SolidWorks and Creo. We are using a Mozilla based browser for our SolidWorks users and Chrome (which is the embedded browser in Creo if you change the setting) for our Creo users. Getting Workgroup Manager set up has been a big pain.
It is recommended that you use File Open from Windchill rather than File Open. This doesn't have an easy preview of parts. It doesn't easily let you see just parts, assemblies, drawings. Both of those things can be done, but it is harder than with the SolidWorks File Open. Another thing that is odd, the default File Open from Windchill sorts capital letters and lower case letters on file names (or it may be the "number" that's showing and is initially the same as the file name in our set up) differently. So, I have had some trouble remembering where things were in the sort order. (ENTERPRISE-SKELETON.SLDPRT isn't next to enterprise-refill.SLDASM).
If you are familiar with PTC products, the user interface isn't very user friendly. Symbols are small. I have to resize my browser window every time I open it. The browser sometimes refreshes, but sometimes you have to manually request that, even after commands that you would expect not to require that - such as update.
If people work outside of Windchill, getting things back into Windchill, can be a bit tricky. It depends in part on the number of external references and the comfort level of the user with Windchill. So, I have another engineer I work with. He had to work outside of Windchill with an assembly for a while. He really struggled with getting it back into Windchill. I was able to do it, but it did take some paying attention.
I just got off a call with PTC this morning. Somehow, Windchill lost the reference between my drawing and my part. I don't know how it happened. We can't reproduce it, but I managed to check a drawing in last week that did not have reference to the SLDPRT that all the views were using. The fix was to open the drawing, make some modifications and check in again. The new version had the reference. I don't know if there was some server glitch. This is the first time I have seen this, but there isn't an easy way for me to know if this is the only time it happened.
Attached is a screenshot of part of my Workgroup Manager this morning. The area circled on the left with the arrow pointing to it are the columns I need to use to check things like if a part is checked out or out of date. It is currently sorted by out of date. The little clock looking icons indicate that I have parts that are out of date. I will need to update them before I work.
The circle on the right is around the >>. I have to hit that if I want to search in table. I can resize the window and hit the refresh up near the top (not to be confused with the big refresh button for the workspace)
This gives you an idea what you will encounter for the user interface.
And I keep seeing my drawing losing the windchill relationship to my model, but no one else sees it. I have had 3-4 drawings do this now. Sometimes, it will correct when someone else checks out the drawing, but as soon as I check it back out to change it, it reoccurs. I had a newly created drawing not create the link in Windchill to the model.
If you are looking at a mixed CAD environment it would only make sense to look at solutions that actually "support" mixed CAD environments. Integration is not an add-in!
I see that no one has mentioned Teamcenter yet. So, I will throw that tool into the discussion. I believe the older Siemens statement that more CAD data is managed in Teamcenter than all the other PLMs combined still holds true. Tech-Clarity makes a similar statement but pairs it down to just "..more CAD data than any other system..."
Having two different data backbone systems is a double edged sword. You aren't fully entrenched in one solution/OEM (business risks) and then you can have difficulties getting issues solved with the communication between the systems CAD-PDM/PLM (technical risks). It's quite apparent you are all addressing the communication/connectivity between the two systems and answering with another level of complexity-introducing a second PDM system.
Isn't it more logical to look at the larger issue instead of attempting to solve a side-effect?
We use Windchill here at Spanner and use WPDM for SW, but we do not use Windchill for both. Windchill seems to be pretty stable (once you get it setup) but like the rest of CREO, unfriendly and Win95 like interface.
Our latest issue with SolidWorks and Windchill is losing work because update didn't overwrite modified files in the workspace. We are using SolidWorks 2014 and Windchill 10.2.
Windchill will let you modify files in your workspace without checking them out. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but can lead to problems. Our specific problem is that modified files in the workspace that are out of date can keep their changes in the workspace when the file is "updated" by Windchill. Initially, our IT guys had update set so that it didn't overwrite changes in the workspace. So, what would happen, user 1 would have an assembly open. When they regenerated, a lot of files wanted to save. Some of these couldn't be checked out (someone else had them checked out or they were released). It is possible to save them to the workspace. Another user would make needed design changes to one of these parts. User 1 would close the files from SolidWorks and notice the out of date files in their workspace. They would hit update. The file would show as updated, but because it had been modified in User 1's workspace, it did not get overwritten. We recently found that the default setting was wrong. Now update defaults to overwriting modified files in a workspace, but it gives a warning that you are overwriting modified files. It is very easy to tell Windchill not to overwrite at that point, so that you don't really update, you get to keep the modifications to your out of date part.
I think the behavior is slightly different for Creo Files. I think if they aren't overwritten, they remain out of date.
Windchill doesn't have an easy way to set parts that are not checked out to read only. If they are read only in the Workspace, they don't open as read only in SolidWorks. You can set them to read only in SolidWorks, but that has to be done every time you open.
Windchill workgroup manager for solidworks is the single worst application I have every used and administered. Our Windchill implementation failed because the performance was deemed unacceptable.
The biggest problem, as already referred to, is the embedded browser - it is constantly breaking because the browser suppliers keep updating and patching the browsers, modifying their behaviors and security policies...PTC is unable to keep up with the constant flux...the end result is that a CAD data management feature may work in IE but not in Firefox, or vice versa.
PTC was feeling pretty good about itself two years ago because they stated that they were about to become compatible with chrome, then all of a sudden google implemented new addin \ plugin policies for chrome and the next thing you know PTC announces that they are NOT compatible with chrome.
stay away from PTC's WWGM for SW if at all possible...if you must use it, budget for substantial support and admin costs...
Can you clarify the difference between Workgroup Manager and PDMlink? We are starting to investigate using SolidWorks with Windchill.
Stay far away from Windchill unless you are running all Pro E and are a glutten for torment. The Workgroup Manager is terrible and the whole thing has a mind of it's own - leterally! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3z1Xi_5m80
Be warned: Out of the Box means extreme bare bones. No automation unless you pay extra to have PTC come in and customize it for you. The licensing is deceiving. One license per user period. No sharing like a network license. Once installed it comes on every time you open Solidworks or anything else and you cannot turn it off.
PDM Professional is much more flexible and user friendly. We have had corporate push Windchill on us and it is a major disaster in the making.
But to answer your question Windchill PDMlink is the PLM (not PDM) software and Workgroup Manager is the add-in you access it with in Solidworks and AutoCAD. It is also extremely complex to administer and use. (60-120 hour training for CAD users here).
Jeff Hamilton Your complaints sound a lot like EPDM! No automation unless you pay extra? Licensing is confusing..which product gives you what level? Once installed you have to login if you want to open file explorer. ;-) Just saying..nothing is perfect and by no means would I defend Windchill..and yes there is HUGE difference between a PLM system and PDM system. PLM is a complete business process change tool and PDM is just a small component of PLM.
Your training hours sound really, really extreme. Coming from a instructional design background I'd say that your company hasn't done a proper analysis to identify the correct objectives. Unless, you are looking at initial training to expose management to what PLM is and then working down thru to PDM. That might get you close to 60 hours but nowhere near 3 weeks.
You have very succinctly stated my core issue with Windchill: "HUGE difference between a PLM system and PDM system. PLM is a complete business process change tool and PDM is just a small component of PLM."
Several years ago, the company I now work for was taken over by a much larger group. To make the story short, they are dictating the move to Windchill PDMLink and do not understand the difference between PDM and PLM.
The training hours come from their corporate training packages. As for licensing, my people were under the impression that it was something like a shared network license. This is not the case at all. Because this thing intertwines itself through all of your cad and office programs, any time you turn one of them on your are also using a Windchill license. So that forces us to purchase licenses for all potential users.
I used EPDM at my previous job and it was very easy to manage and operate. Windchill has a number of issues.
I'm adding this so that someone else might be able to find a problem and not thing they are losing their mind.
And today's and last week's Windchill problem. The version of Windchill I am working with has a setting set that will allow you to check out an older revision of a part. There may be a good reason, but I have overwritten someone's work last week because of this and had to find the work my coworker had done this week.
Here's the scenario, person A has been working on a model and has it in their workspace. Let's assume it is at version A.10. Person B needs to help them out and knows that the part needs to be at the next revision. Person B revises the model. The latest version of the model is now B.1. Person A forgets to make sure that nothing is out of date in their workspace. They make changes and try to save. WGM lets them know the part isn't checked out giving them the option to check out and then save. They now have version A.11 in their workspace. They check in. They notice that they have out of date files in their workspace. They update. Person A opens the model. It is at version B.1. Their changes aren't there. Panic ensues.
Hopefully, the missing changes were found quickly.
If the model had been released at A.10, then it would not have been able to be checked out at the old revision. This isn't something you are likely to see on released things. This is something I have seen on parts that have to change revision before they are released.
I think it may be possible to not allow checkouts and checkins to an old revision. I am not sure what the exact setting is.
So, the company I work for does work for other companies some of which use Windchill with SolidWorks. One of the companies uses Creo View to create the official version of the released drawing. Creo View seems to have trouble including any JPGs that are on the drawing. Shaded/hatched areas don't always display correctly. And today's interesting thing, a part number on a BOM table showed an older number. When the drawing was opened again, it was right. We opened the affected part and saved it again and then Creo View was fine. The BOM was using the part number that is typed in at the configuration property. We didn't change it, just forced a save to the part. So, if you are using Creo View, keep an eye out to make sure that you are getting the drawing you expect.
Good to know.....thanks.
Will are getting stuck with windchill 11.0 and we use SW 2015 & 2016 (customer dependent). How do we rename sw files and still have everything work in SW & windchill?
Did your management even consider the bigger PLM systems that are geared to work in multi-CDA environments? Teamcenter is another option. But if your management has decided that Pro/e (aka CREO) is the main CAD system then Windchill would be the obvious direction to go. But as a couple have commented when you introduce multi-CAD then you have a whole different set of requirements to look at.
no , we have mostly creo here and just 5 of us that use SW so we are stuck. So it is a matter of working with it.
Carrie, do you still use SW & winchill?
Very good. Let us know how we can help...outside of sympathy.
I was using it until recently, but am at a different company now. They are using Windchill to handle SW files, but I haven't really tried it yet at this company.
On Gary's question about renaming, we didn't usually have trouble with renaming. Windchill could keep the relations pretty well. That said, we did not use WT parts because we were still working on understanding how to make them helpful. For an inseparable assembly, the part and assembly would both have the same part number. This would confuse the WT part since it didn't know which one to automatically associate to. We put that off for a later time and quit using the WT parts. We were not controlling BOMs in Windchill. We had a release process, but that was just to control the revision of the CAD. The actual release to manufacturing was done in Agile.
We also did not use much top down modeling. When we did, we had what we called our "skeleton" part and would copy the part into the various models that needed it. This part rarely needed renaming.
Workgroup manager has less control of SolidWorks files than of Creo files. You can more easily add them or take them from your workspace directory. Pay attention to make sure you don't reference parts outside your workspace if you don't mean to.
Please see my other posts that have some details on things to watch out for. The updated files not actually having the files update (because the default for the action was to not overwrite modified files in the workspace) was something we took a while to find. Once we found it, IT changed the setting, but it took a while to figure out what was going on.
As you know, SW considers that an assembly needs to be regenerated and saved if one of the parts in it changed. When opening a model that wasn't checked out, it does not default to being read only. So, when you regenerate that assembly and hit save, Windchill asks if you want to check it out (this is one of the key places when you may get a pop under window). If someone else has it checked out, you may still be able to save it to your workspace.
so when you would rename parts would you do it in SW explorer?
If the files are already checked in to Windchill, the rename should be in Windchill or else they will be considered new files.
No considerations from management on anything else. PS We do not use Creo at all. Only Solidworks, AutoCAD and Microstation.
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