8 Replies Latest reply on Aug 23, 2013 8:35 AM by Shankaran Shanmugabaskaran

    ePDM and SW Configurations = no good

    Shankaran Shanmugabaskaran

      Can someone please assist with this topic of Solidworks configurations and epdm?
      We are running 2012 SW and 2012 ePDM

      We don't build simple widgets, but large manufacturing equipment that have assemblies and subassemblies that are shared amongst.


      The issue we have been facing is that we cannot prove to users of the epdm system that a file is accurate because it may have a file has not been rebuilt error. An engineer may say it is fine, but the user will see that error, which can come up if ANYTHING changed on anything of that part/assembly or below. Something as simple as a color, a text, or just hiding something. Engineers don't like that's how epdm recognizes a file rebuild.



      If 2 people are working on one master assembly for example, and there are 2 lower level parts that the 2 people are dealing with. If user A modifies part A, then the assembly has to be rebuilt. If user B modifies part B, the master has to be rebuilt.  And if you have configurations for say part B that is being modified by another third user, then ALL configurations need to be open and rebuilt.... Isn’t it a never ending battle on rebuild?


      So in the end configurations are bad when it comes to using it with EPDM?

        • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
          Sylvain Trudel


          EPDM is not different than SolidWorks CAD in respect to configurations.  EPDM is only exposing the need for rebuild.  EPDM is not the cause of the requirement of rebuilding all the configurations after a change in one configuration.


          Sorry for the short answer,



          • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
            Jacob Kralovic

            We've accepted this as the only way a proper PDM system can work, and there's no easy way around it.

            But It is precisely this problem that drove our company to use PDF's as the released documents.


            That being said, we have a rigourus revision control and BOM scheme built into our ERP software. That's what enables us to use PDF's effectively. The end users only have access to PDF's and, on occasion, "customer models" which are .STEP models converted from solidworks.


            Just today I had to deal with a part that is used in literally 300 assemblies, and even more upper level assemblies. I needed to add a configuration for a new intermediate step for machining that part. It did not have any effect on the overall shape of the completed part.

            However, now the 1000's of assemblies looking for this model "NEEDS TO BE REBUILT!"


            Since our users reference the PDF's, this is a non-issue.

            When Designers need to use any of those assemblies, they get the latest version of all attached documents (and my new change) and they proceed with what they needed to do with it.


            We don't have the time, or manpower to sit there and update all the assemblies. They are what they are, and the PDF's cover them until the the next time the assemblies get revised, at which point we'll ensure the models are up to date, and create a new rev PDF.


            Our main purpose in PDM is reference tracking, searching, document history and permission control for groups.

            Our ERP system handles the rest.


            Moving from an all Windows Explorer storage environment, this is a HUGE upgrade.


            Hope this helps,

            - Jacob

              • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
                Shankaran Shanmugabaskaran

                Wow thanks for the great feedback.


                Right now our sales / purchasing depts only view PDFs. Manufacturing can see released solidworks drawings. PDFs get created once drawings get released. The problem is, the only way to force an engineer to rebuild is when we enable the rebuild required on check in. So if I trust PDFs, as I am doing now, how do I ensure the engineer is rebuilding completely prior to check in? And since manufacturing still sees released drawings, just because it is released doesn't mean it can't go back to the need to rebuild state (which is very frequent). The reason I cannot let manufacturing only see released PDFs is because they need to use edrawings to take measurements, which required the actual solidworks drawing.



                For BOM, we have a our solidworks BOM table exported into a custom API that brings it into our ERP system. I'd be interested to hear about more on the BOM topic and how overall engineering process is.

                  • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
                    Jacob Kralovic

                    You're very welcome.


                    I can see your predicament now. Do they still see the "needs to be rebuilt in solidworks" notification if they right click the file and select "open with edrawings"?    I've noticed that the true eDrawings viewer wont show the warning, but the EPDM "FileViewer.exe" will.


                    Both are nearly identical programs, with measuring abilities, printing, etc.

                    It's one more step they have to do, (using the built-in previewer was kind of convenient) but it may just work for you.


                    eDrawings should open the document as it appeared when last saved, so any changes to lower level components wont be shown, unless opened, rebuilt and saved in solidworks.


                    Currently, our Manufacturing Engineering Dept uses solidworks to open our documents to design tooling, etc. So when they open our assemblies, it gets the latest version and rebuilds the model. I've taught them that if they are ever in doubt, to check the versions of the documents to see if any out of sync. I also have them configured in the "get latest version" dialog to "Latest Version" under the Version Of references option in the top right.


                    - Jacob

                      • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
                        Jacob Kralovic

                        Sorry, I forgot to mention your question on the BOM issue.

                        We do our BOMs 100% in our ERP software. I can't imagine trying to handle it in EPDM. Especially for large projects.

                        On component level, and weldment items, we include the BOM on the drawing, just for machining/welding reference, but for our full assemblies, the BOM is handled by ERP via the top level assembly number.


                        When I initially dumped everything into the vault, I set everything to a "migartion" state. The only ones that can see these documents is the Designers. Their job is to go through the model, remove old revs, fill in datacards, and create PDF's if needed.

                        Once the document is migrated, it goes to the "Document Released" state. At this State, our M.E. group can see and use the documents for tooling and there should be no issues.


                        To revise or edit a document, it must change state. This ensures that we have traceability of what happens to documents. Once edited, the documents get reviewed by a couple departments, then the PDF is made, and the CAD files are released.


                        Upper level assemblies that have their lower level components change will automatically grab the new version of the documents for our M.E. group based on the settings I described in my last post.


                        - Jacob

                        • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
                          Shankaran Shanmugabaskaran



                          Yes in the EPDM viewer and also in edrawings it does put the file needs to rebuilt message. But some users disabled the warning in the true edrawings, so then you won't see that watermark. but point being is that the drawing still needs to be rebuilt.


                          But again, if they are only able to see PDFs, how can they use the edrawings tool, as it will not do PDFs, and then need it to take measurements.. they being the manufacturing side?


                          Even now some older drawings that were released, and newer that have been changed by some other path, will show this drawing needs to be rebuilt.

                            • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
                              Jacob Kralovic

                              Hmm, I had forgotten that I disabled the warning for the Designer group.


                              I guess for the most part, our company completely ignores that warning. The only group that does measuring here is our QA dept.

                              They have access to the CAD Drawings and Models, but use the PDF drawing to program their CMM machines, they also copy off our models for programming.


                              No one in the production "manufacturing" shop floor measures things off the drawings.(they don't even have eDrawings.) Our PDF drawings have all the dimensions that they would need to make the part. They would never need to measure something on the drawing.


                              Our Manufacturing Engineering group uses Solidworks to insert our Models into their tooling assemblies and design it around them, so they also don't need eDrawings.


                              I don't think there's a way to avoid the need to rebuild. Even in your old system, I bet documents were "Auto-Rebuild on open" inside of solidworks.


                              Basically, if you turn off the Rebuild Warning, you are no worse than before EPDM, because it was doing the same thing before. But once inside of EPDM, it can actually alert you when it happens (which, as you said, is almost ALL of the time.)


                              For your arguement to the manufacturing group, tell them it's giving them the same thing they were getting before, and the warning is just letting them know EPDM detected a change in the document.


                              On the flip side of things, if your Revision to the low level part DOES affect upper level items, this is where the rebuuild warning actually makes sense. The upper level assembly should be updated if it's a change that could affect manufacturing's ability to maintain quality.


                              - Jacob

                      • Re: ePDM and SW Configurations = no good
                        Shankaran Shanmugabaskaran

                        All great responses.


                        It seems like we HAVE to ignore those warnings, at least have the engineers ignore them, and limit who can see actual drawings. We had a discussion yesturday to remove the 'check in' lock and another pain is the toolbox, when you add to it, anything that uses that toolbox (which is everything) needs to be rebuilt. The other gripe is when they release the drawing and the solidworks auto pdf generator does its job, it only takes the cached edrawings view. So if it is not rebuilt, the old is what you get. Having to check out everything and rebuilt limits the multiple users working on one project situation.


                        I think here are the steps I need to do

                        1. Engineers ignore all rebuild messages
                        2. The entire organization with the exception of engineers are limited to PDFs.
                          1. A few welders will need measuring capabilities but that will be until I can have engineers include those dimensions in drawings
                          2. Certain shop managers will need view of assemblies so they can understand what things look like
                        3. When engineers release drawings they should check the PDFs