4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 12, 2013 7:53 PM by Thomas Pollock

    Multiple users editing parts, assembly and drawing at the same time?

    Thomas Pollock

      I've been working at my first Solidworks-based job for 3 weeks and I'm finding EPDM to be rather challenging to learn and use effectively. This is especially true as the "low man on the totem pole". My department has their system setup the way they feel is best, so my suggestions are quickly met with scrutiny and disaster scenarios.


      For example, I've noticed that projects become bottlenecked because only one person is allowed to work on a project at the same time within EPDM. Of course there is the option of saving files locally as a workaround but that kind of defeats the purpose of having EPDM. In general I realize that it is probably best to not have parts, assemblies and drawings of the same project being edited by multiple users at the same time for obvious file referencing reasons, but when there's a time crunch and projects need to get done, I think it would be very useful to allow multiple users to be working on different phases of the project. This is especially true of the drawing, which can be rather time consuming for large assemblies. Why not allow one person to build the geometry, and then at an appropriate time allow another person to begin the drawing while some aspects of the 3D model are still in progress?


      Has anyone had experience with this kind of concurrent production? Does anyone have any ideas on how to successfully impliment this type of workflow using EPDM, such as settings that can allow write access to referenced files? Or is this a really bad idea? Please tell me. I'd like to know, either good or bad. Thank you.

        • Re: Multiple users editing parts, assembly and drawing at the same time?
          Brian Dalton

          From my own experience, I would say that having multiple people working on the same parts, assemblies and drawings simultaneously is quite problematic.  It commonly leads to confusion and duplication of effort as folks are chasing each other's tails around and around doing, re-doing and un-doing each others' work.  It can create very tangled situations that are hard to trace out and repair.  That doesn't mean it can't be done, but that it is tricky and risky and needs to be quite closely managed.


          For that reason it is advisable to keep projects and/or logical parts of projects segregated in terms of the work being done and by whom, and this segregation must ultimately be concieved and managed by the project manager.  That person is responsible for keeping the work efficient and organized and should be followed faithfully by all the project team members, even if it doesn't seem to be the best plan possible.


          On a personal note (you didn't ask, so take it or leave it as you see fit), I would suggest that 3 weeks into your tenure at a new company may be a bit too early to be offering suggestions about how the prevailing system should be changed.  Try to work from the assumption that these decisions have been carefully considered and approved (and possibly documented in released SOPs) by intelligent people who have experience with the nature of your company's business, the culture of its management and the results (positive and negative) of the policies that are in place.  Often they are compromises that are known to be imperfect but which have been found over time to yield the best overall results.


          Pointing out what appear to you to be flaws in the prevailing methodology can be seen as pushy and arrogant, and can cause those who made the decisions in the first place to feel as if you think they just flipped a coin, rather than thinking them through carefully.  I'd go with the flow for at least 6 months before presuming to challenge time-honored (if seemingly imperfect) policies.

            • Re: Multiple users editing parts, assembly and drawing at the same time?
              Thomas Pollock

              Hey thanks so much for your advice. I appreciate your candor too. I definitely don't try to be pushy about ideas, I mostly try to present ideas in the form of questions. You definitely make a good point about the way I perceive my ideas and how that may differ from the way others perceive them. Office politics aside, it's amazing how a fresh perspective can generate creative problem solving. I guess I may be able to handle constructive criticism better than most people, having been an industrial design student. We were encouraged to question everything and not be shy about shooting holes in other classmates' design concepts, as long as it was done in a productive and respectful manner. The business world is obviously a lot different than school so I'll take your advice and continue to work within the system they have in place.


              Well thanks again for responding to my post. I'm gathering a general concensus that it's not a good practice, but that it can be done, and should only be done under very specific circumstances by people who know how to make it work.

                • Re: Multiple users editing parts, assembly and drawing at the same time?
                  Joy Garon

                  Hi Thomas,


                  Keep challenging the 'norm' - Brian's advice was to make sure you think before you speak and be careful with 'presentation' :-) (always good advice).


                  I find your fresh perspective interesting and I view it as a possible opportunity for product/process improvement. It is never bad to identify a bottleneck in the process. When you discover what you perceive to be a bottleneck, document the bottleneck and what you perceive as the impact in terms of time and money (think ROI) -  ask questions. (Is there a reason why we work in serial on designs instead of parallel?) Listen carefully to the answers. There may be valid reasons you had not considered. But, if you hear things such as 'because that's the way we've always done it', then it might be worth investigating improvements. (However, you might need a bit more tenure to be taken seriously.)


                  If you find aspects to the product that are puzzling or could be done differently, submit enhancement requests to SolidWorks. They are looking to correct product bottlenecks.


                  Now, back to your original post - it is possible to have various designers working on different aspects of a product design simultaneously - we do it all the time. Most often you will find different designers working on different sub-assemblies within an overall assembly. As for drawings, in our case the same designer who created the part or sub-assembly creates the drawing because they know best how to document the design. Communication with team members is key. If setup and utilized properly, EPDM helps facilitate this teamwork.




                    • Re: Multiple users editing parts, assembly and drawing at the same time?
                      Thomas Pollock

                      That's very good advice as well Joy. Thank you very much. I think you and Brian are both right on the mark with your responses. Although I am not going to completely stop sharing ideas for how we can improve our process and the quality of our product, I will be careful to think my ideas through before bringing them up. I'll "choose my battles wisely" as they say. More importantly I'll focus on showing that I have good ideas through the quality of my work.


                      I'm so new to EPDM it's too early for me to be trying to impliment new processes in that regard. It's a steeper learning curve than I expected. I think what makes it tough is that they want to teach me a broad range of takss at the same time. Since the people I work with basically built this system, they're able to process everything in larger chunks, whereas I have to concentrate on every little detail. Every day it seems like I'm doing a little of this and a little of that. I think I learn best by honing in on a specific task and mastering it, then branching out to master other skills, continually building on a solid foundation. I think everything is going to work out very well though. It's a good thing I enjoy my work enough to want to study it in my spare time. Plus it really helps that people such as yourselves are willing to provide me with new insights.


                      Thanks again!