Looking for ideas on how to refine our practice of creating installation assemblies. Our product is a populated shelter which can be mounted on various vehicles and trailers and contains rack-mounted network and communications gear along with other off-the-shelf components. Some components are rack mounted in the shelter, others are mounted elsewhere on the inside or outside. The shelter itself is purchased and comes with four pair of rack rails running from floor to ceiling on each wheel-well side of the shelter.
The shelter is populated with various "installations" or configurations of gear. We must create these installation assemblies following product structure, and also create an installation drawing containing an installation BOM and drawing views typically showing the shelter interior and layout of components in the installation. Designers now start an installation assembly by creating two SW configurations, one called DWG REF which contains the shelter assembly along with components that make up the installation. The Default configuration suppresses the shelter and fixes the components and is used in the populated shelter assembly.
This method has caused great pain because of excessive installation assembly size, incorrect config being used in the populated shelter resulting in super-imposed shelter assemblies, and a host of other problems. The one thing it does facilitate is multiple users can work concurrently on individual installations w/o regard to status of the populated shelter assembly.
We are looking for a method where the designers can create their installation in context to the shelter (or even populated shelter if possible), not carry the otherhead of the shelter assembly in their installation assembly, and be able to drive an installation drawing view(s) and BOM. We also need to be able to edit the installation assemblies in context to the shelter (or populated shelter). Installation components do not have to have external refs to their mating shelter component.
We have tried:
(1) Creating a shelter-reference model containing ref planes and a 3D sketch of the internal\external walls of the shelter, then inserting this in each installation assembly, and mating to the ref planes. We could not create enough planes for all the possible mating surfaces inside the shelter. It was also clumsy to locate components.
(2) Creating installation assemblies within the populated shelter assembly by mating components then Form New Subassembly as an external file. Problem is the populated shelter was in edit mode to do this so multiple users could not design concurrently. We also no longer had a good assembly to drive a drawing view\BOM because the shelter was not part of the newly formed installation assembly.
We have contemplated using an envelope assembly of the shelter in each installation assembly but are not yet on SW2013 and won't be for six months.
We have contemplated using enhanced sketches in the shelter-reference model, placing this model in each installation, and using configurations in the populated shelter assembly to drive the dwg views\BOM of the installation drawings.
Looking for expert opinions.