InFlow https://www.inflow-tech.com Empowering leading product developers & manufacturers to control the data that defines their organization, utilizing our team of dedicated industry advisors and delivering practical solutions. Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:53:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.inflow-tech.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/cropped-inflow-new-logo-32x32.png InFlow https://www.inflow-tech.com 32 32 120006925 DRIVEWORKS 15 SP1 NOW AVAILABLE https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/07/driveworks-15-sp1-now-available/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/07/driveworks-15-sp1-now-available/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:49:37 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2400 SOLIDWORKS-1500665812897We are pleased to announce the official release of DriveWorks 15 sp1! This release comes with many new updates and enhancements such as;

  • Pack and Go will now copy specifications reports and re-reference included specifications!
  • Better performance with high resolution (4K) monitors!
  • Better control of in-context references!
  • Updating group tables using an array are done in real time!
  • Enhanced DriveWorks Pro Server connectivity handling!

and many more!

Customers with a current description can download the software and view all of the release notes at https://hub.driveworks.co.uk/software/driveworks-pro/ or https://hub.driveworks.co.uk/software/driveworks-solo/. For information about the installation and upgrade process check out the help documents at http://docs.driveworkspro.com/Topic/Installation and http://help.driveworkssolo.com/Topic/Installation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or contact your local value added reseller for assistance!

The InFlow Technology DriveWorks Technical Team

SOLIDWORKS-1500665812897

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SOLIDWORKS PDM 101: Setting Document Revisions https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/07/solidworks-pdm-101-setting-document-revisions/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/07/solidworks-pdm-101-setting-document-revisions/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 13:00:37 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2373 In a previous article, we discussed the inner workings of PDM versions. In a nutshell, versions are the way PDM tracks the changes to individual files. Every time we make an official change to a file, a new version is created and added to the file’s history. The good news is that the system handles versions for us automatically. If you want to know more about versions and how they work, check out our last PDM 101 here.

People often ask if file versions and file revisions are the same thing. In some other systems, the term is interchangeable. That means whenever a change is completed by the user the file’s revision ticks up. PDM systems that use a process like this can cause unnecessary revisions. Or, even worse, files staying out for change indefinitely, because the user does not want the revision to change. This increases the risk of file changes being lost, or can cause delays in updating other dependent designs.

With SOLIDWORKS PDM, the file version and revision are related, but are not the same thing. To put it simply, the PDM revision is a label applied to a particular version. A file can go through hundreds of versions and never be an approved revision. The revision stamp is only applied if we tell the system to set the revision. This can be done in 2 ways, manually – based on user permissions or automatically – based on a workflow process. Let’s explore both methods.

Setting Revisions Manually

You can easily set revisions manually using the right mouse button menu.

Right-click context menu with “Set Revision” enabled

If the file you have selected is assigned to a workflow that has an assigned revision, you can pick the revision level from a dropdown in the set revision dialog window. You also have the opportunity to set the revision property for that file so it displays correctly on the card.

Set revision dialog window

You can do this for one file, or multiples, depending on your selection. The only downside is that you must select the revision value for each file independently.

Setting Revisions Automatically

If you would rather not think about what the next file revision should be, you can set the revision automatically using the PDM’s workflow feature. The requirements are similar to setting the revision manually (the file must be in a workflow state with an assigned revision scheme). The difference is that the revision can both be incremented (move from ‘A’ to ‘B’) and set (Update card to show ‘B’ in the revision field) based on transition actions (Selecting ‘Approved’ to change the file’s state).

PDM Workflow with the “Approved” transition properties window open, displaying the “Actions” Tab

PDM Workflow with the “Approved” state properties window open, displaying the “Revision Numbering” Tab

Which one makes sense for you?

Now, you could certainly use both if needed. But there are advantages and disadvantages depending on your goals. The main question is, “How much control do you want the user to have in determining the revision, rather than the system?” Or to put it another way, “Do you want your users to think about setting the revision?”

Most people choose automatic. Since SOLIDWORKS PDM allows you to configure just about any revision style to match the grand majority of revision schemes, it makes sense to just let PDM decide based on the type of change.

Some people do need to use a manual process because their revision style does not follow a standard schema, or they have a high level of “legacy” files that have an existing revision. For example, if you have a DWG file from many years ago that is at rev ‘N’, it is easier to set the revision manually rather cycle the file from rev ‘A’ all the way to ‘N’.

Windows Explorer client displaying a miss-match between the data card and the system revision

Selecting the correct revision in the “set revision” dialog window

Windows Explorer client displaying the updated system revision

History dialog window displaying the change from Revision “A” to “N”

While this may be the exception, rather than the rule, it makes sense to make manual and automatic methods available when you are dealing with new and legacy files.

We have also seen unconventional revision schemes that include non-sequential values, where the only option is to have the user make the selection.

There is also risk to making the system too open. Most people when presented with a problem will take the easiest path, and that might not always be what’s best for your company. Manual methods of setting the revision often bypass approvals that would normally be required. We have seen this abused by users when they want to keep revision changes under the radar (The old “That’s how I have always done it” reasoning).

Preventing unauthorized changes is typically one of the key reasons for implementing PDM in the first place, so we want to make sure that we keep this to a minimum. This can easily be done by limiting who has permission to bypass the normal procedure.

Workflow diagram with “No approval required” transition to bypass the normal process to set the revision on already released documents

Properties for the “No approval required” workflow transition displaying the active “Permit” permission for the “Managers” group

Determining which method to control the revision of your files is just the first step. Beyond this, you may need to decide what kind of revision scheme you want to use. SOLIDWORKS PDM gives you the flexibility to use conventional or custom revision schemes based on your current or future system. We will dive deeper into common revision styles in the next PDM 101.

If you would like to know more about anything discussed in this post, please submit a comment below or email info@inflow-tech.com

 

 

 

 

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SOLIDWORKS: PDM Products Simplified https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/solidworks-pdm-products-simplified/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/solidworks-pdm-products-simplified/#respond Mon, 26 Jun 2017 17:07:24 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2364 Occasionally, I will talk with a customer that is new to Solidworks Products or has been newly or temporarily assigned in an administration or project role for the company’s vault.

This information is for you folks… you know who you are . 🙂

The SOLIDWORKS PDM products can be a bit confusing to short timers. The names are similar and there is not an easy way through normal communication to differentiate or identify what product you use.

First, Solidworks PDM products are client server multi-user applications that helps companies control, share and make document management more efficient and effective. All Solidworks PDM Products have a vault with secure user based access and some level of customization that help with revision control, searching meta data and providing services like notification of document changes or previewing different versions.

What are the 3 Solidworks PDM Products?

Workgroup PDM (Legacy)

Workgroup is a product that has been packaged freely with Solidworks Premium and Solidworks Professional Products in the Past. It bears very minimal if any similarity to the user to the other Solidworks PDM products. It has a relatively low capability for customization and a less windows integrated approach to its interface that PDM Professional and PDM Standard. Solidworks has announced that it will no longer support this product after 12/31/18. This most likely means that after this date, use of this product may limit your ability to upgrade the Solidworks CAD software. Generally, the best fit for workgroup PDM is a small team of 2-5 users with a simplified need to customize and control files shared by the team.

PDM Standard (Replacing Workgroup PDM)

Replacing Workgroup PDM is Solidworks PDM Standard. It was released to the public in 2016 and is essentially a version of PDM professional scaled down to simplify for small teams and remove features that are more typical for Enterprise Level use. For the most part, PDM Standard will look and feel to the user like PDM Professional. The administrators however will notice some major differences. PDM Standard is probably best used by the same 2-5 member team as workgroup but it does offer more bang for the buck as it has a SQL Server backend. Under certain circumstances it may fit well for groups of 10 or even 15 users.

PDM Professional (Formerly Enterprise PDM)

PDM Professional, like PDM Standard is integrated in Windows Explorer. This typically reduces the learning curve over other software as it benefits from an interface most people are already comfortable with. PDM Professional differentiates itself from PDM Standard and Workgroup PDM in that it offers multisite capability (Replication/Vault Sharing at different locations) and an API capability. PDM Professional is different from PDM Standard and Workgroup PDM in that it requires separate purchase of licenses for your users while the other two product licenses are mostly included in the price of a bundle. PDM is highly configurable and allows for relatively unlimited growth and flexibility in addition to the added power of its back end SQL Server Standard.

How to Determine Which Product You Use?

Okay Now that you have passed my wall of text, how can I tell which product you use?

Probably the easiest Way to tell if you use Solidworks PDM Professional or Standard is to go to

Your list of Windows Programs on a machine with PDM installed and Look for a heading called “Solidworks PDM” or “Solidworks Enterprise PDM”. Seeing this could still mean that you have Pro or Std but certainly eliminates Workgroup unless you use multiple products. To determine if you have Solidworks PDM pro or std,

Image result for solidworks pdm administration tool client type

Expand the Solidworks PDM heading from your windows program list and double click on “Administration Tool”. In that window on the top horizontal menu bar go to help, about Solidworks PDM. In that window you should see a “client license type” field. That field should tell you if the license is for PDM Standard specifically, otherwise it must be a PDM professional install.

If there is no Solidworks PDM installed then your users may be using Workgroup PDM.

When using solidworks, here are some images that will help you differentiate between the products.

Workgroup PDM

Workgroup PDM has blue folders called projects and the vault view in solidworks will look like this:

Solidworks PDM Standard and Solidworks PDM Professional

As noted previously Solidworks PDM Standard and Professional will be integrated into explorer but

When accessing through solidworks both will have a plug in menu that looks like this when vault files are opened:

Thanks for stopping by the Inflow blog and we hope you found this information useful to your current effort.

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3DNotification in MS-SQL Environment https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/3dnotification-in-ms-sql-environment/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/3dnotification-in-ms-sql-environment/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:50:56 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2353 How to get 3DNotification working with MS-SQL

First step is to add a new system environment variable in Windows

Install GA. Do not Click Install in the final confirmation screen

Modify install.properties and save the file

Click Install

Before installing the Fix Pack, add ODBC connection to 3DNotification database

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SOLIDWORKS: Help!!! I Have Cyclic PDM References https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/help-i-have-cyclic-pdm-references/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/help-i-have-cyclic-pdm-references/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 21:00:00 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2265 C:\Users\tsanelli\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCacheContent.Word\References Block Toolbox.png

C:\Users\tsanelli\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCacheContent.Word\Refennces Block Hardware.png

I have seen, on more than one occasion, an assembly that has multiple cyclic references in an assembly. Now, I totally understand that when you’re under a deadline, it may save time initially to just copy a part to use for another assembly as opposed to searching your vault, especially if you have a large data set that can take a considerable amount of time, also assuming the description is incorrect, etc. However, as previously noted, while you may be saving time initially, the implications to having duplicate parts can be astronomic, several versions down the road, especially if the assembly is to be used in multiple other upper level or parent assemblies ranging from several broken references to system stability (crashing) and slow operation. With this concept in mind, we will review the implications of duplicate files and cyclic references from within a vault to hopefully mitigate you struggling in the future.

C:\Users\tsanelli\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCacheContent.Word\Hardware Assy.png

Here, we have an assembly named (Block_Hardware Bolt). We have two bolts (FHCS 1 X 5) that are assembled into the block (block 2 hole) as shown. It is wise to consider this assembly in the manner you might have a directory with standard hardware that is not the toolbox. We can see that the references are directed towards our hardware directory.

C:\Users\tsanelli\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCacheContent.Word\Toolbox Assy.png

Likewise, suppose that once you have your vault up and running, you get to a point where you want to add a toolbox. So, with that concept in mind, we have the following assembly (Block_Toolbox Bolt), which is represented in the concept that this is an assembly with of the exact same named bolts, (FHCS 1 X 5) that are assembled into (block 2 hole). Also, we see that the references are directed towards our toolbox directory.

C:\Users\tsanelli\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCacheContent.Word\Reference Component Properties_Find References.png

Finally, at some point during our workflow, the two assemblies with the same children and names cross paths in our workflow. The issue at hand here as noted earlier is that if same names with different files path occur in a parent assembly, you will have broken mates. This is because SOLIDWORKS attempts to solve the issue where it should find the mates and from which reference, which can make for extremely slow loading and saving.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why doesn’t the assembly just read the mates and open them from where they are located?” Well, this is exactly the problem with this situation since the background coding of the SOLIDWORKS file references is read in a sequential order, thus reading the first file name and thinking the second one in this case is read from the same location; but as we can see, it will inevitable fail, as the names are the same but with two different file locations, reading a single location. However, all this behavior can easily be mitigated if unique files are always throughout the vault no matter the directory location even if in a toolbox location in your vault.

 

 

Tony Sanelli
PLM Support Engineer
Inflow Technology

 

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SOLIDWORKS PDM 101: What is a Document Version? https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/solidworks-pdm-101-what-is-a-document-version/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/06/solidworks-pdm-101-what-is-a-document-version/#respond Mon, 05 Jun 2017 12:00:57 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2317 One of the fundamental parts of any PDM system is its ability to track the history of documents. How it tracks that history can vary from system to system. With SOLIDWORKS PDM, it does this through document versions. So, that begs the question, “What is a Version in the SOLIDWORKS PDM vault?”

The short answer is that a version is a “snap shot in time” of a particular document. Versions are created in PDM as we make changes to the files in the system.

By default, all the files in PDM are locked down and read-only (vaulted). In order to make a change, we have to take ownership of that file. In SOLIDWORKS PDM, we call it a Check out.

When you check out a file, it’s a lot like the library. For as long as you have that file checked out, you are the only one who can make changes to it and also see those changes. When you are done, you check in the file, returning it to the system for everyone to access and see. From there, another person can check out that file, and the cycle continues.

Every time we check in a file, a new snap shot is retained in the system’s history. So if you go through this process ten times, there will be ten versions of that file.

The good news is that the system does all of this for you. You don’t have to worry about version control or how it works. It just does it automatically, but I know a few of you out there want to look behind the curtain, so let’s dive a little deeper.

Architecture

The SOLIDWORKS PDM System is made up of Archive, Database, SNL, and client machines. When you access PDM, you do so from your client in windows explorer. When you get a file, the client asks the database where that file is located. The database goes to the Archive, finds the file, and serves it to your client. You can then preview the file, check it out, or do other activities directly on your local machine.

On your client, you can only have one version of that file at a time and we are typically working with the latest version. So what happens when I want a different version of the same file?

When you see the file on your machine, all the versions will have the same file name. In a way, they are all the same file, just from different points in time. This is why you can only have one at a time. You can‘t have a file with the same name in the same location. So, what magic is happening in the background? All these files must exist somewhere? They do, and this place is called the PDM Archive.

The Archive

In the PDM archive, you will find all the versions of all the files in the vault. Even the deleted ones. They are stored in a special way to prevent having the same files in the same place. The archive exists on a server in your network that is inaccessible to normal users. If you were to look inside the archive, you would see a series of folders labeled 0-9 and A-F. And inside of those folders you would see hundreds of folders with hexadecimal names. What we are seeing here is the skeleton of the PDM system. Whenever you add a file to the vault, it creates a new hexadecimal folder in the archive and uploads the file into that folder. To prevent duplicate file names, it also renames the file during the transfer. The first version of a SOLIDWORKS part would be renamed 0000001.sldprt, version two would be 000002.sldprt, and so on. So if we had ten versions, we would have files 0000001 through 0000010.

So, let’s go back to the question: What happens when I want a different version of the same file?

Let’s say we have version 6 of the “10000239.SLDASM” on our client machine and we want to see version 2. When we request the previous version, the client asks the database for version 2 of this document. The database finds the record for that document and retrieves the hexadecimal value for that file. It goes to the archive, finds that folder, and locates file 00000002.SLDASM. It then gets the file, renames it, and then replaces the file on your client with the older version. This is why you will sometimes get a “replace file” warning when you get an old version of a file and you have the file checked out. The system is overwriting the file in your local cache with the version found on the server.

You now know a little bit more about how the system ticks and keeps everything in order. Here are a few more facts about version control in PDM:

The Versions in the archive are full copies of the file. They are not differential copies. This means that if you have a 1mb file with 10 versions, you are consuming about 10mbs of disk space.

You can choose to overwrite a version. This allows you to check in a file multiple times without consuming additional disk space. You do, however, loose that history.

If you only change card data during the check out, you will create a “metadata change only” version. It will increment the version number, but not create another copy of the file. Note that if your data card is linked to custom properties in the file, it may still copy the file since changing a custom property changes the file.

There are version links in PDM. If you have a family of files, like a SOLIDWORKS assembly, there are version specific references. This allows for that “snap shot in time” for collections of files.

You can add a version column to your window explorer details view

You can see when versions where created from the history window

If you would like to know more about anything discussed in this post, please submit a comment below or email info@inflow-tech.com

 

 

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Computer Aided Technology 2017 Product Development Forum https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/computer-aided-technology-2017-product-development-forum/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/computer-aided-technology-2017-product-development-forum/#respond Tue, 30 May 2017 15:55:56 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2287

It’s that time of year again! Computer Aided Technology, InFlow Technology and MCAD will be hosting our annual Product Development Forum and this time we will also be celebrating our 25th anniversary!

During our forums we will have raffles and prizes, live Stratasys 3D printing and Creaform 3D Scanning demonstrations, model mania contests and “Ask an Expert” sessions. Our presentations will be covering a wide range of topics including:

30 Things You Definitely Missed In SOLIDWORKS Essentials Training

Gain some insight into the glossed over, rarely hit, or just plain missing essentials. With the amount of material covered in the essentials class, there is no way to possibly cover it all, let alone retain it. Studies show that only up to 25 percent of material is retained from visual presentations. Attendees will get a fast-paced look at what they might have missed, glossed over, or forgotten from Essentials.

Choosing the Right PDM System For Your Business’ Needs: SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard vs. SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional

This session explores the different capabilities between SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and PDM Professional and will help determine which one is best for you. This session also offers advice on when is it necessary to upgrade from Standard to Professional.

SOLIDWORKS Design For 3D Printing

With the increased use of 3D Printers, SOLIDWORKS designers take their 3D SOLIDWORKS designs and create 3D-printed parts. This session will teach attendees the best modeling practices for 3D printing and how to design in SOLIDWORKS to create the best 3D-printed parts, multi-body parts, and assemblies with correct clearances.

Leveraging 3D Scanning for Inspection and Quality Control

Learn how leveraging 3D Scanning can help optimize your Inspection and Quality Control Process. Our team of experts will discuss the concept and show examples with real-life components.

SOLIDWORKS Redneck Workarounds

Attendees will learn how day-to-day modeling and administrative challenges are overcome with some inventive and sometimes bizarre methods. They will be able to look at design road-blocks from a different perspective to quickly come up with solutions that speed up their SOLIDWORKS design process.

Our next events will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 6th, Kansas City, MO on June 13th and St. Louis, MO on June 14th. We will have a complimentary breakfast starting at 8:30 am and kicking things off with the SOLIDWORKS training at 9am. In between the sessions, feel free to walk around and talk with our SOLIDWORKS, PDM, Printing and Scanning technicians about any new products or techniques that you’ve been working with! For more information, check out our event page. To register for an event, please click on one of the links below. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Albuquerque

KansasCity

STL

 

 

The InFlow Technical Team

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SOLIDWORKS: Registry Update to Connect PDM Clients to a New Server https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/registry-update-to-connect-solidworks-pdm-clients-to-a-new-server/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/registry-update-to-connect-solidworks-pdm-clients-to-a-new-server/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 15:00:49 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2252 If you moved your SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional or SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard database or archive server components to a new server, your existing clients will not be able to connect, as the server connections are hard-coded into the registry.  The best way to point to the new server is to remove the vault view and re-add it.  However, you can also edit the registry to make this change.  You will need to change the keys for the database server and the archive server if you have moved both the SQL database and the archive server to new hardware or renamed existing hardware.

Vault View Keys

On each client, update the SOLIDWORKS PDM registry keys in the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\SolidWorks\Applications\PDMWorks Enterprise\Databases\VAULTNAME

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\SolidWorks\Applications\PDMWorks Enterprise\Databases\VAULTNAME

  • ServerLoc – Archive Server
  • DbServer – SQL Server

Once updated, reboot the PC or exit PDM using the tray icon and then use Windows Task manager to restart the explorer process.  You can also update the registry and restart windows explorer via a batch file that can be pushed out to the users.

 

We hope you find this useful.  For more information, visit InFlow Technology.

 

The InFlow DriveWorks Technical Team
www.InFlow-Tech.com

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DriveWorks Pro 15 What’s New: Copy Group and Pack and Go https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/2237/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/2237/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 14:20:53 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2237 For those who missed it, DriveWorks 14 had a little hidden gem for copying out your DriveWorks groups or projects. They were only a Beta version in the 14 release but have officially been implemented in DriveWorks 15! These tools can be found in the DriveWorks Data Management 15 application under the “DriveWorks Tasks” section after logging into the group.

Copy Group

The copy group functionality allows a user to copy out all of the group and project information from any existing group. It will copy things like Security Data, Tables, Projects, Captured and Released models and much more. The information can be imported into an existing group or be used to create a new group. For more information click here.

Pack and Go

Pack and Go actually performs the same actions as Copy Group, but instead of placing all of the settings into an existing or new group, it saves them as a .drivepkg extension similar to a zip file. This is great if you need to make a quick backup of your data without having to pick and click to find all of the necessary files to copy. For more information click here.

Any thoughts or questions? Leave a comment below!

 

 

The InFlow DriveWorks Technical Team
www.InFlow-Tech.com

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SOLIDWORKS: Understanding PDM Workflows https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/understanding-solidworks-pdm-workflows/ https://www.inflow-tech.com/blog/2017/05/understanding-solidworks-pdm-workflows/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 13:35:46 +0000 https://www.inflow-tech.com/?p=2226 New to Solidworks PDM or considering it as a solution at your company?  Maybe you have used Solidworks PDM for years but workflows are still a bit of a mystery?  I hope to provide you some workflow basics that will take some of the mystery out of how they are configured and their benefit potential. This is not a replacement for Solidworks PDM Administration Training or a comprehensive functional description.  As always, Inflow Consultants are available to assist you in any Solidworks PDM activities that you find beyond your current capability.

Definitions

Here are some simple terms that will help you to understand the concepts presented.

  1. Work Product

A work product in this context would be a document or set of documents that need to be shared or controlled in the vault. Control may be related to group or user permissions, Revision management, information or all the the above. Your solidwork assembly, part and drawing files for a specific product or project might be an example of a work product. Other examples might be single documents like a sales order, work order or ECO/ECR/ECN, etc.

  1. State

A state is like a task in your workflow. There is typically a duration of activity being performed with clear prerequisites and requirements to enter and exit that state. These will look like rectangles in your PDM Administration tools workflow design.

  1. Transition

A transition is an action or decision to move your vaulted documents from one state to another. These will look like arrows in your PDM Administration tools workflow design.

workflow

How many Workflows do you need?

First, every file checked into the vault will require a workflow. This is not as difficult a task as it may seem. Workflows may vary from a single state or dozens of states and transitions. For example, CAD files or other design documents typically need some type of revision control and permissible access defined. Other types of files may only be added to the vault for sharing or archive. The latter will have very simple workflows and likely be a single state.

Next, examine everything you wish to put in the vault and then separate each work product into categories for how they will be managed. The more common categories might be; Complex Revision Management, Simple Revision Management, and No Revision Management.

Once you have decided the level of Revision Management for your documents you can organize all documents by these categories when they also match on revision scheme. Typical revision schemes may be A-Z (alpha) or 0-99 (numberic) or a combination A1, A2, etc (alpha numeric).

What are the different types of workflows and how do I determine their construct?

Now that you have determined how many workflows you need to create for all your work products you can start designing each workflow. Here are a few things you will need to define to do detailed configuration of your workflow.

  • How many revision schemes does your work product require.

You need a “loop” mechanism for each type of revision scheme your work product may transition to. For example, in a 3 loop workflow a document or set may have a prototype revision (x1, x2, etc), a Production Release Revision (A, B, C, etc) and a Minor Change Revision (A1, A2, A3, etc). Loops often consist of A transition that sends the work product to a state to decide on a revision change, a state where that change is considered, and a transition that approves of the decision and a transition that sends that work product back to the prior state for corrections.

  • What Approvals are required to increment each revision

If there are multiple approvals, will you be performing those in sequence or in parallel and who are the owners of those approval actions? Will you want exceptions to bypass any of those approvals or will your work product always require that specific approval? Will all owners have access to the PDM Application or will you need to designate another group to reflect that approval in Solidworks PDM?

How do you ensure files get assigned to the appropriate workflow?

Each workflow has something called workflow properties associated with it that you define. These properties are essentially Boolean arguments that will each evaluate to true or false and may be combined with AND/OR Logic. When you check a file into the vault, PDM looks to the first workflow listed (this is not something you are aware of as it is executed almost instantly), it evaluates the first workflow property for that workflow. If workflow properties evaluate to true then it moves on to the next property for that workflow. If all are true, then that file is assigned to that workflow. Otherwise, it moves on to the next workflow in the list and repeats the process. If all workflows are evaluated and none had evaluated true for all workflow properties, then the user gets an error that “this file does not meet the conditions of any workflow”.

Conversely, it is important that workflows have properties that make them mutually exclusive from each other. If two workflows have properties that all evaluate to true for a checked in file then Solidworks PDM will assign it to the first one of these workflows it encounters which may or may not be the desired outcome and likely may not be a “consistent” outcome for that type of file.

What are some of the additional things you can do in your workflow?

  • You can have PDM convert (like solidworks to pdf) or print files based on a transition command. (PDM Professional only)
  • Users or groups can be sent an email notification when important decisions are made like approval by manufacturing or when a file has been waiting for approval longer than an acceptable period.
  • Meta data can be validated to ensure it is filled appropriately out by the originators.
  • Information can be automatically updated for files transitioned, like a watermark value that shows on your drawing or a revision history presented on a card or in a table on your drawing
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