18 Replies Latest reply on Nov 14, 2014 11:17 AM by David Sloop

    What are experiences with different PDM Systems?

    Jonathan Olson

      I am looking to implement a new data management system with my engineering group (~20). We use Solidworks primarily and sometimes autocad as well as some PCB layout tools. I have been looking at Windchill and Solidworks EPDM. I was wondering what are peoples experience with the usability of these (or other data management systems)? I am primarily concerned with how user friendly and robust it is for storing data and workign as a team. Project flow is not critical. Engineering change orders / notices workflow is a nice to have but not critical.

       

      We have a large number of people in manufacturing that I want to provide access to PDFs of the drawings as a simple read only type user. I feel like there is often not a low cost solution for these types of user. What are your experiences?

       

      Thank you.

        • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
          Brian McEwen

          That is a big question, and I don't know what you already know... but here are some thoughts...

           

          Between PTC Windchill and EPDM, EPDM is probably the way to go.  Based on my research and on the fact that it is a SolidWorks product for your mostly SolidWorks files.  But Windchill is a PLM system - so it should be able to do more, you have to decide what you really need. If you have no PDM or PLM now then anything can be an improvement if implemented carefully.

           

          PCB layout - I don't have experience with this but I have heard some of the ECAD stuff is not great for most PDM systems that are more focused on MCAD. 

           

          I have to say EPDM is a lot of work to set up - but, I think this would be true of any of the major PDM.  Either you pay for help (and the consultants can't know what you need unless at least one of your people is heavily involved), or you learn it and have a small internal team set it up.  File migration is a pain (again I get the impression this is true with all PDM systems).  PLM is supposed to be even more work to set up than PDM.

           

          Or you go with a less capable system that still has some major advantages over no PDM system, and is easier to implement. I'm thinking of Workgroup PDM, maybe GrabCAD Workbench...  I think the perfect product for small and mediumish companies still does not exist. Workgroup PDM is not quite enough, EPDM is too much.  For our eningeering group I think Workgroup would have been enough (and it is much less complex and that makes it more usable), but we had some other parties involved that made us need to step up to EPDM - long term that gives us more options.  Also I don't think Workgroup had a yearly cost advantage (since we are on SolidWorks Standard).

           

          We are still in our first year of PDM - now I'm at about 1-2 hours per day maintaining it, answering questions, researching stuff, adding features. Before that it was months of work on system design, and lots of time just coordinating our people and departments. I'm the only person that put major time into it.  All the pieces are fairly simple, but the combination is a beast.  This is for about 20 total clients installed.

           

          Now for some good stuff... It is working, and it is cool to be able to collaborate on files. If a file is not owned (and it is a design/WIP state) then you can check it out and make the changes you need, no worries, and check it back in for the next person.  You can get old versions when iterating on designs.  The search is much more powerful (but still not as polished as it could be).  Where-used is great. 

           

          Usability - good if you use EPDM regularly. For occasional users it is easy to forget stuff.  They say it is like Windows Explorer, but there is really much more to learn -  both about the interface, and the correct process to use (for CAD Editors and Contributors). 

           

          For Viewer licenses it is pretty simple, and they are not that expensive (and you don't need a license for every client installed, they float).  We still publish PDF drawings outside the vault for our people that don't have EPDM.  This can be somewhat automated with Tasks. 

            • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
              Pete Yodis

              Brian,

               

                   I wouldn't be suprised to see GrabCad and other things like GrabCad become a much more mature platform over the coming years so that it competes on more functionality but without all the hassles of configuring access and hardware to get to something like EPDM.  I am a strong believer in the future of cloud based systems (data could also be cached locally if needed), even more so after installing, configuring, administering, and troubleshooting EPDM.  I am also a long term user of WPDM, which as you mentioned was limited but easy to setup, administer, and use.  It seems there should be middle ground between the 2.  I think the cloud based systems are that middle ground now and will encroach on capability later.

               

              Pete

                • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                  Brian McEwen

                  Thanks Pete, good to confirm on WPDM (been I while since I used it).  And I think you and I have had some similar experiences with EPDM. 

                   

                  I worry that our internet is just not fast enough for something like GrabCAD at this point.  But I could also see it getting big.  

                    • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                      Pete Yodis

                      On the speed issue... I could see cloud based CAD systems where the actively worked on data only resides on the cloud system.  This would keep a large amount of data from traveling over the Internet.  Only screen images and inputs would be sent.  If you wanted a local back up of the data, it could be captured incrementally as changes are made to the set of files in the cloud based system... so in case the internet died and the end of the world came and went you could then work local on the backed up data.  Some thoughts.  I think companies like OnShape and Lagoa will be interesting to watch as well as AutoDesk which has been suprisingly agressive as of late on these endeavors.  The next platform Dassualt products I think will be too expensive as they will try to protect the Catia/Enovia pricing levels.

                • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                  Tom Strohscher

                  I've been looking for PDM/PLM software for the last few months and I'm interested in what the Solidworks community is using too.

                   

                  I've looked at Softech, Synergis, Concurrent Systems DDM, PTC Windchill, Oracle Agile, and SW Enterprise.

                   

                  The first 3 are my favorites.

                   

                  If anyone is willing to discuss post here or send me a PM.

                    • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                      Ronan Carrroll

                      Tom

                      How did you find DDM to use. I evaluated it for a week and had a webinar session with CSI. Basically I like it but I am concerned regarding file renaming when needed. Apparently you cannot rename the file directly in the database because links to where it is used break. Otherwise I think it is a great system.

                        • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                          Tom Strohscher

                          The pros as I saw it was a vary intuitive user interface & it seemed to be created by engineers for engineers.

                          They were vary capable of everything were were asking.  (I didn not as any of the vendors about renaming files that were already in the vaulting system.)

                          From my understanding they created a database record of the part number then the files were attached (automatically).  Files could come and go but the database record was the key to linking everything together.  The databse record could exist before the file if needed.

                          I want a database for part numbers.  Then there sould be a publised rendering of the part drawing (tif, pdf, cal...).  Then there may also be CAD data (.swdprt, .slddrw... or .dwg).

                           

                          If a user is looking for a published copy of a I want them to get 1 file.  The format (tif.pdf.cal...) the file is in should not be relavent.

                          If a use is looking for a drawing they should get 1 drawing (SW dwg or autoCAD)

                          If a user wants a model they sould get SW sldprt or ACAD model.

                           

                          Too many of these systems focus on the file.  I don't think DDS does.

                          Systems should know 123.dwg and 123.slddrw are or could be the same part.  A revision is required.  The part numebr is 123 don't allow this type of duplication to occure.

                          I think DDS has a handle on this.

                           

                          They also understand configurations in a model could be or should be recorded as multiple parts.  If the model/drawing has 3 configurations then 3 part numbers are added to the database.  Each becomes an independant part record that is tracked and can be searched.

                           

                          They have some really nice ideas if you are interested in creating a vendor package.  Allowing the vendor in to see the files, and allowing the vendors to upload quotes.  It's all held in the system where everything is related and searchable.  No addtional handing of files external to the database using e-mail.

                           

                          I didn't get a slick sales man.  They know their product.  The top management knows the details of why the database works the way it does and can talk intellegently to the customer and developers.

                           

                          They were hesatent to allow for some of the database to database connectivity we will be requiring.  Using API tools for communicating to other systems to use is important to us.

                          There were other forces at play the moved us away from DDS that are not represented in looking at the software.

                           

                          There are smaller companies that grow from PDM to PLM.  (Synergys, Softech, Concurrent Systems)  Then there are large players in the PLM market place.  Looking at the capabilities you need may help to define your direction or it may level the playing field if you have basic requirements.  We seem to be struggling to understand if going with a big company has advatages not yet identified or realized when thinking about ERP systems.

                           

                          Our requirements are on the fence of outgrowing a PDM solution but not yet requiring a PLM solutuion.  We need a solid part number database independant of the documents it maintains, we need strong bill of materials for handling things in groups.  But we don't (at this time) need a ton of workflow and concurrent design stuff.

                           

                          They are still near the top of my short list.

                            • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                              Ronan Carrroll

                              Thank you Tom

                              Very informative and helpful. I should actually have pasted the link to  my original post EPDM Vs DDM

                                • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                  Tom Cote

                                  Hi Guys,

                                   

                                  Nice review.  I've looked at DDMand was VERY concerned about the lack of updating references if a file gets renamed.  It may be that I need a little more knowledge into their exact handling of the files.  If file name means nothing to them then maybe we're focused a little too much on this weakness in the system.

                                   

                                  Another thing to look at is if they are a SolidWorks solution partner and IF NOT how long after a major release before their product is ready to run?  This can be major issue as I have heard of some that were 1 to 2 years behind SolidWorks.

                                    • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                      Brian McEwen

                                      DDM (Design Data Manager) is a SolidWorks Solution Partner.  I don't know what the distinction is, but it is not a Gold Partner.

                                       

                                      As far as renaming files and breaking SolidWorks links, with a trial can't you test that? That ability seems fundamental to any viable PDM system. 

                                       

                                      Tom Cote wrote: Nice review.  I've looked at DDMand was VERY concerned about the lack of updating references if a file gets renamed.  It may be that I need a little more knowledge into their exact handling of the files.  If file name means nothing to them then maybe we're focused a little too much on this weakness in the system.

                                       

                                      If "file name means nothing"... How would that work? DDM would tell SolidWorks what to open somehow? It is hard to imagine it having that level of control yet being unable to rename a file and change the SolidWorks references, but that is just speculation.

                                       

                                      In the other thread Re: EPDM Vs DDM  it is hard to ignore the post by Kitchen.  It is a scathing commentary on DDM.

                                        • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                          Tom Cote

                                          I'm not sure about DDM.  I agree with the lack of being able to update SolidWorks ref's I stopped looking at them as a PDM option.  They are about the same cost as EPDM.

                                           

                                          I've worked with Pro.FILE from PROCAD and they automatically rename the file to the part number (& update ref's) but then they track the file name and know what to open. It's kind of cool but took a bit to adjust.  I had to accept that the SolidWorks file name for model and drawing did not matter (in the setup I was using the model and drawing file names were different too).  Simply navigate to the part number in Pro.FILE (not SolidWorks) select open and it knows what file(s) to open in SolidWorks.

                                • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                  Tom Strohscher

                                  Does anyone have experience with Softech Product Center?

                                • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                  Philip Kitchen

                                  Talking about file names, DDM wouldn't let you have a Part and Assembly with the same name unlike WPDM.

                                  • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                    Joe McBurnie

                                    Dear All,  just to add an update. DDM 2014 has a rename function for Solidworks. If parts and parents are work in progress it's easy. If parts and or parents are at a Released or Issued Status then you must be a member of a special group controlled by the administrator.  This is because of the potential implications of such a powerful change if all implications have not been considered. Any rename will add audit entries to the parts and parents effected to ensure full compliance traceability.

                                     

                                    Regards to all, Joe Mc

                                    • Re: What are experiences with different PDM Systems?
                                      David Sloop

                                      I'd suggest using WPDM, which is free inside Solidworks, to at least get started in PDM.

                                      Then, you'll have file management and revision control for Solidworks files, at least... Decide from there which additional features you really need.

                                      If you decide it's not for you, at least your users will have gained some experience, and gotten used to using a PDM system, regardless of which one you end up with.

                                      We've found so far, that WPDM works for our needs.