I am in a similar situation...the only cad user in a small company. I do have my files organized into a folder system and I have had no issues with it. But I would suggest that you think your file structure through very carefully as it took me a lot of time to move all the files into folders as it all had to be done through solidworks explorer to maintain the integrity of existing files. If you have to move them more than once it will be very time consuming. And the more files you have the longer it takes.
I do not know how the folder structure may impact migration to a PDM system later on.
Having or not having folders should have no impact on migrating to EPDM - can't speak to other systems though.
if you have premium or professional (don't remember which) you already have access to workgroup PDM - probably worth looking into.
and for moving files, if you set up your options correctly (file locations, referenced files; and search locations for external references), you can just drag and drop the files in windows (with the file closed of course).
If you have SW Pro or Premium and therefore Workgroup PDM (for free) I highly encourage you to take a look at it. There are several solo users on this forum that use it to organize files. The number of individuals in your CAD team is not relevant.
WPDM has its limitations but it is solid product and very good at what it does do. It is straight forward to set up and maintain; It can reside on your desktop if need be; and will do a far superior job of managing your CAD (and other engineering) data over any folder system.
Migration tools from WPDM to EPDM are established so if / when your organization reaches that point it will be straight forward.
I am at a company now that uses only network folder storage. After using WPDM at my last company to manage very complex assemblies its absence here is painful. The mess you are starting to recognize is extreme where I am at - and we have a VERY organized folder structure. However, I spend hours searching for the correct version of particular files. I have copies of copies of copies of files. I have redundant files of fasteners in countless places. Even if I could convince the owner to adopt it, the notion of migrating the current mess into a PDM system is overwhelming.
Do yourself the favor of setting up your WPDM. It will help you manage the files immensely. Then tomorrow / next week / next year when your company adds a second, third, sixth CAD engineer it is a simple matter of adding them to "users" list.
Jeremy and Daen,
I do have Solidworks Professional 2012 x64 Edition SP5.0. Under Tool>Add-Ins is a check box for Solidworks Workgroup PDM 2012. I assume I want to turn on and "explore". Would like to read more material to read up on before I open Pandora's box. From glancing at the help section this is going to take a "sell" to the owner of the company to install and setup.
There is a separate help section just for Workgroup. I am running SW2013 and it is under SW Help and then in the LH column of major subjects towards the bottom. I seem to recall in SW2012 there was a separate item in the SW Help Menu drop down.
You will need to install the software first before you can run it. It consists of a service running in the background and a vault. The service "listens" for requests to the PDM vault and gets the information to and from the vault. You can see the vault contents in two places - within SolidWorks in the task manager and in SolidWorks Explorer. In order to see the WPDM tab in the task manager you will need to turn on the add-in you mention above. In order to see it in SW Explorer, you will need to modify the installation and check the options to enable WPDM.
There is also an administration application that gets you under the hood to set things up. Give this a little time. It really is not hard to set up with a little understanding. What you don't understand from the help file can readily be answered here on the forum.
Although there are many subtle variations, the general work flow is as follows:
- You never work directly on the files in the vault.
- Files are copied to and from the vault from a local drive (even if your vault is local on your machine)
- The local drive does not have to be the same for every project
- You create and edit files in SW just as you always have.
- Once checked into the vault ownership of the files are managed.
- If you don't take ownership, you can't save any edits to the same file (you can perform a save as...
- If you change the revision of a file, the vault takes care of tucking the old revision away for save keeping
- If you do take ownership of a file no one else can take ownership until you release it.
- If you check in an assembly, the check-in process will gather all the linked files (with the ability to make adjustments as needed)
- If you use a common part in more than one assembly, it will be shown in multiple assemblies but is only stored in the vault once.
- The vault also recognizes libraries of common items that do not require revision management (fasteners and other vendor items)
- You can attach non-SW files to other files in the vault (DXF, PDF, XLS, DOC, etc)
- There is limited reporting capabilities
- Where used
- List ownership of files
- There is search capabilities
- The folder structure in the vault is of your choosing
You want your vault to be in a folder that is locked down and well hidden. You don't want to be in there manually messing around - fastest way to make your data implode.
Again, I encourage you to give this some time. Like any investment, it will take a little effort to get it to pay off but most users have the same sentiment - they can't imaging using SW without it. I am now where I am not allowed to use it and miss it dearly.
The only Issue with WPDM is that solidworks is no longer putting any additional resources into it so at some point there will be limited or no support for it. And when I had discussions with my reseller in regards to WPDM and EPDM, apparently there is a lot more work involved to get your data into EPDM from WPDM vs a file structure if at some point you decide to go the EPDM route.
Interesting. I have heard from my reseller EXACTLY the opposite. Migration from a known structure (WPDM vault) into EPDM is a much more understood and stable process than migration from a countless number of variations on file structures. Not to mention retention of revision history.
The concern that WPDM is no longer being supported has been floating around this and other forums for years. Yes, the product is mature and no enhancements are being made. That has been the case for 5, 6, 7 years? SW has said time and again that they will give ample notice of end of life for the product. They have a large customer base using the product. If they "pull the plug" and tell you your only option is to shell out $20K for an EPDM implementation, the result will be loss of customers, not additional sales.
Would I love to see an EPDM light to replace WPDM. You bet. Do I think SW will pull the plug on WPDM without an alternate product for their customers to migrate too? I don't think so. That would be a very foolish business decision.
Obviously this is all opinion. But this same discussion has taken place for years and still no doomsday.
The underlying point is that any PDM is better than no PDM (Windows File Structures are NOT PDM). If your company doesn't want to spend on a PDM, you've got a free one just asking to be installed. And if SW pulls the plug tomorrow, you WPDM doesn't stop working. Since you are still using SW2012 it doesn't appear your company is a rapid early adopter of every new release. So if SW cans WPDM, it is only an issue if you upgrade.
As far as know your answer is correct and makes a lot of sense. We use WPDM at the company I work for and I also use it at home where I am the only user. There are some limitations when comparing it to EPDM but it provides a much better solution than relying on Windows file-structure.