6 Replies Latest reply on Mar 12, 2014 3:29 PM by John Burrill

    Cleaning out bad settings in existing files

    Eric Nothnagel

      I am the CAD administrator at my company, and I want to clean up some long-standing poor practices and entrenched issues with our solid models, but I am unsure of the best way to move forward. The basic issue is that while we have been using SW for about 10 years, we have only in the past 2 years started to standardize file templates, drawing formats, file properties, materials etc. The older, non-standard files often have a number of settings which cause serious hair-pulling among our engineers.

       

      What’s difficult about the existing files is that often our new designs are slight modifications of old designs, which means we want to start from the old design, save-as to a new filename and then make whatever changes are necessary for the new design. This process means that we cannot stamp out easily the old files because all their bad settings get copied along to the new parts.

       

      For reference, here is an incomplete list of a few of the settings we’ve seen that cause problems:

       

      1. Assemblies with configurations that have the “Suppress new features and mates” box checked. Our new file templates do not have this checked and that is absolutely the way we want it to be, but many old files do have it checked.
      2. Part with “Suppress new features” checked. Same as #1, but for parts.
      3. Parts with no assigned material or a material from the wrong database.
      4. Parts/Assemblies with the wrong unit system.
      5. Parts/Assemblies without a weight property or other custom property now defined in our standard templates.
      6. Files with drafting standards other than the correct standard.

       

      What would you suggest is the best way to attack issues like these?

       

      Thanks!

      Eric

        • Re: Cleaning out bad settings in existing files
          Joe Kuzich

          How complicated are the individual parts?  You may be better off re-creating them and using the new ones as your starting point. 

           

          It's really hard to say how to go about trying to fix a buggy model without knowing exactly what's bugging up.  A recent post talked a about some ideas to help your models/assemblies from getting all those hair pulling issues.  It's called "I'm a very messy Modeler"   https://forum.solidworks.com/message/415773#415773  I know its a little after the fact but it might help if you do end up recreating them.

            • Re: Cleaning out bad settings in existing files
              Eric Nothnagel

              Joe,

               

              Thanks for the response. Unfortunately there are 1000's of parts of widely varying complexity, so it is not practical to re-create them.

               

              Eric

                • Re: Cleaning out bad settings in existing files
                  Scott McFadden

                  Eric,

                  This is a very tall order.

                  As far as drawings go, if you get your titleblocks and properties set the way you want them in the template files, you can set these up using the tab builder.  Then when you do a copy save as, you should be able to copy the new TB into the old format and at least get the drawings on the way.

                   

                  As far as assembly and part models, there is not a direct way to transition old formats into new ones without recreating them in some form or another.  I mean you can insert parts into parts, but the inserted part comes in featureless.  You can do this with assemblies as well.  Insert the old into a new assembly template, but the file name would have to be different or if it was the same, at least in a different location.  Not to mention, there would still be a link to the old assembly file.  This might work ok for you when it comes to the assemblies, but understand you would have to fix any links there are with upper level assemblies if there are any.

                   

                  The parts can be more complicated.  If your modeling practices were bad in the past 10 years, I am guessing it is more then just a few settings here and there.  If features are not capturing the needed design intent, then you probably are better off recreating them.  This would be a slow process, but over time would eventually take shape.

                   

                  Any chance you are using PDM?  I ask, because maybe as the administrator, you can have the old parts in one location with permissions set and as the new models come in they can be in a different location within the PDM and you can control this.

                   

                  I hope this helps and makes sense.

                  Best of luck to you.

              • Re: Cleaning out bad settings in existing files
                Eric Nothnagel

                We are using PDMworks. What I was originally thinking was to set up a custom task to run a custom macro that would take ownership of each file, change the bad settings and then check the file back into the vault.

                 

                Does anyone have any experience with this or suggestions?

                • Re: Cleaning out bad settings in existing files
                  John Burrill

                  Well, I think you'll have to commit yourself to the API in order to update these settings in a batch process.   Adding custom properties, modifying configuration properties and the like, you can automate and probaby effect the changes as administrative items since  they shouldn't affect the geometry of the files or the appearance of the drawings. 

                  The material and weight properties carry addtiional overhead.

                  If a part doesn't have a material assigned, then you have to investigate what the material is supposed to be.  If the weight hasn't been mapped to a custom property, then you'll need to check the drawing to see if the weight is manually typed in-and more power to you if you discover a disagreement and have to figure out what the weight is supposed to be.  In these cases, you might have to create a change order for the parts and get configuration management involved so that you have some traceability.

                  The real danger in these kinds of file maintanance orders is that they have a way of inadvertantly churning dormant file build issues to life.  Even if you just perform a vault version upgrade, you're still opening your models and rebuilding them.  So that imported part that was in 9 assemblies, that you redrew from scratch blows up the mates everywhere it's used and now your top-level assembly PDF has balloons with question marks instead of find numbers.  If you ECO'd the assembly and discovered this, you could spot fix it, but these changes are taking place in batch mode and you have no idea if the udpated files are horrible or good.  So, even if you're just making simple document settings changes, you need to block out some contingency time to check and repair files.  Also, be sure to let the engineering director know files might need change orders as a result of this endeavor.

                  There's an inherant danger to the CAD Administrators job.  On the one hand, they're supposed to uphold engineering document revision protocols and involve the proper design authority in approving the changes and on the other, they're supposed to be an IT tech, acting behind the scene, tuning and cleaning the system to realize continuous gains in efficiency.  So like the janitor, you need the keys to everything and like a butler, you need to act with self-restraint and deference to protocol.

                  Final bit of advise:  If you decided to act because complaints are rampant and everyone knows the file system sucks, take a little while and troll your memory, notes and emails to figure out roughly how much this problem has cost you in man hours.  Bean counters are rarely sympathetic to the impact of frustration or the general idea of 'making things easier'  But if you express it in terms of engineering time and forcasting, then they'll get a real sense of the financial impact.  It's a lot easier to justify file maintainance projects if you have quantified the cost of not doing it.