Managing part files without PDM
SOLIDWORKS Forums
4 days ago

Hi,

 

I have recently been given the responsibility of managing changes on a machine and it's accompanying files (Parts, Drawings, and Assemblies). I was initially very nonplussed to get this project because it is a notoriously complicated and poor revision control has been maintained on the machine. I mean, I heard people complaning about managing the machine years before I even joined the department. The machine is approximately 10 years old, has approximately 5,000 total parts on it, there are 5 different versions of it, 12 different builds and there are about 12 different machine change over kits per machine consisting of approximately 70 parts each in various states (assemblies, or individual parts).

 

In the past two years, the machine responsibility has been passed between 5 different new engineers (that have worked for a while and quit) and 2 interns to make modifications on the machine and the result is our revision control has been terribly documented causing me not to know what drawings have actually changed. There have been a lot of model and drawings changes that were not documented correctly.

 

Because of this, I will probably have to go with the nuclear option of revision control and basically change the rev on every drawing on the machine and report to our drafting department that I had "revised and redrawn" all the drawings.

 

We do not have Solidworks PDM. There are enough gatekeepers and bridge trolls guarding aerospace, automotive, military and medical industry standards we need to meet that I doubt it will be implemented any time soon due to the monolithic pillar of documents that would need to be changed.

 

Boiling it down into bullet points, here is the situation:

  • Machine models, assemblies and drawings have been changed by many inexperienced people. Most of which have packed their bags and moved on.
    • File time stamps have been written after the last rev.
    • Notes were visible that were not on the last rev but not listed in our document change system.
    • Dimensions and models have changed from the last rev but not listed in our document change system.
  • We do not have Solidworks PDM and do not plan on getting it.
  • Machine files (Parts, Drawings, Assemblies) are stored on a server where anyone that can use Solidworks and knows the directory can open it and change it.

 

Tl;Dr: How do other people/companies manage part files on a server without PDM? Is there any way I can mark these files as "read only" so people can view them but can't change them? Since this project has been such a problem, I'd like to really attack this mess, clean it up as best as I can and basically maintain an authoritarian grip over it so this doesn't happen again.


Categories: Administration

Comments
Last comment By: Steven McCallion   Mon, 11 Feb 2019 16:31:15 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

Ok, that sounds like a bad problem at first glance. Also, are you talking about the same physical machine? What is the problem with getting a new one with better graphics card and processor and transferring the entire file tree?

 

Yes, marking files as 'Read Only' is a basic function in a Windows OS. And you should be able to do so through file explorer.

 

Also, I answered something like this before, let me copy the answer from this discussion -

 

As someone who worked for a company that kept on trying to keep records without actually getting a PDM - here is what I learned.

 

1. Use the 'read only' option for the archive folders. If you don't, SOMEONE is going to accidentally or even purposely change things that should not be changed, and it can remain undiscovered for years. Then days are lost to 'fix' the archive when they just wanted information. Or you get this cycle where people get repeatedly told to look at "X", and re-finding the same bad information over and over and over.

--I highly advise that you have one or two people in charge of the archives, and only they can make changes. NO ONE else, even CEOs.

2. The main archive and most well used was just the PDFs of the assembly and part drawings, with a new PDF saved for each revision of of the drawings. 95% of the time, this is all people need to figure out historical design and intent questions.

3. If you really need to save the source and SolidWorks files of each revision, the best way I think is to have people pack-and-go into a zip file, and control the labeling of that zip file. Personally we tried to use the same project name/number for each zip file followed by a time stamp. Do it that way, and File Explorer almost automatically sorts the files for you, and you have an endless non-repeating number to keep everything separate.

--Note: Must have the read-only where you put the zip-files. And make it clear that if any changes are made, people need to extract all the files onto their own computer, and make a new ZIP file when they save the changes, DO NOT TOUCH THE ARCHIVES.

--Time stamp is just a number with the year, month, day, hour, and even min - 201805111122 for example.

--The problem with 3 is that it was very hard to get all the drafters to use it. Multiple departments, everyone doing their own thing... It was difficult just to inform people of it, much less how to use the system we tried to implement. Even with guides and instructions made and passed around, and personal one-on-one instruction. Most just forgot to do so quite quickly.

--Also, there are people who have no idea how SW files work. How many people have ever received a drawing file, with no parts or assembly files? Similar problem here, you can't really look at just the drawing file in a zip folder. You need to extract to your own computer, then open the drawing file.

 

Oh, also we considered saving 'Part Assemblies'. As in we take an assembly and save it as a part. Though re-associating those to drawings caused confusion. Only actually good to save the 3D side of things. And not very well, as that strips a lot of the internal information from the original assembly.

By: Steven Mills  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 17:10:20 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

I couldn't imagine SW without PDM.

By: Chris Saller  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 17:14:18 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

Find out which rev you still need.

Some rev make old obsolete or old rev machine don't exist anymore or you don't support / provide parts for old machine or you don't make old rev parts anymore.

I'll cleanup models and drawings to current production first.  This draw a line for future proper revision.  Maintain good rev from this point and fix old one on the go.

 

Server should have user control.  Only certain users have write access.  Other only has read.

Some will only release PDF to users that not supposed to modify CAD.

3D PDF and STEP file works well also.

 

There are different ways to maintain files rev.

1: Copy the whole machine.  Archive the old rev and work on the new one.

2: Keep different rev files together.

You'll have to see how they work in your company.

By: Frederick Law  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 18:35:00 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM
Also, are you talking about the same physical machine? What is the problem with getting a new one with better graphics card and processor and transferring the entire file tree?

 

Sorry if I wasn't clear. When I say "Machine" I mean the "files that make up a design for a single machine used in manufacturing" as well as the physical machines that are being used in production. "Project" would probably be a better term

 

1. Use the 'read only' option for the archive folders. If you don't, SOMEONE is going to accidentally or even purposely change things that should not be changed

Archives are handled by our drafting department. The entire project (files in directories) are usually compressed into a .rar or .zip and treated as a single document under our document control system. Previous revisions can be pulled from a controlled area.

 

The problem is with the next revision we're working on. People aren't recording what they changed, they aren't changing the revision on the drawing after they fix the part, and they don't follow through to the assemblies to make sure they're updated as well and good for our drafting standards.

 

It's simply a discipline issue. The current "on change" revision of the project we are working on has been "on change" for two years and people neglected to follow through with their changes.

 

Now it's my project and I have to clean it up. I just want to make sure I only have to clean it up once.

 

 

2. The main archive and most well used was just the PDFs of the assembly and part drawings, with a new PDF saved for each revision of of the drawings. 95% of the time, this is all people need to figure out historical design and intent questions.

 

I would agree, but it's still a drafting requirement that the "why" is recorded in words so even someone completely unrelated to the project could figure out why something was changed, the "why" can't be something that people just infer from comparing the documents themselves.

By: Bryan Weitzenkamp  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:23:56 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

Everyone has read/write access typically because they're working on projects.

 

I don't think management would like to change this because it is convenient for them to say "Oh person A is gone? Person B, go make this change now on the server for me."

 

I guess if I left the company and basically kept all the write access to myself, it would also be a problem.

By: Bryan Weitzenkamp  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:25:53 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

Access is IT problem.  Not your's, unless you're IT.

Without control, the server is a disaster waiting to happen.

Someone drag and move a folder somewhere else.  Happens all the time.

Someone delete files accidentally.

Someone delete files on purpose.

By: Frederick Law  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:35:04 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

There is only so much that can be done on discipline issues, especially if you don't use PDM. Give each person on the project their own IDs on the computers, and only allow write access to the archive AFTER they get taught how to properly update drawings and assemblies. Sounds like your already doing #3 from above a bit. Just need to add the project name/number and timestamps to the zip files.

By: Steven Mills  Wed, 28 Nov 2018 23:44:54 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

I work in the drafting department and we also are not currently using pdm although I'm pushing for it. We have a directory that our IT department locked down to drafting only. This holds all our drawings/parts/assy's plus controlled documents. I also have a folder in the drafting drive that I've had locked down as read only for any others in the drafting department. Our engineers are also locked out although they can copy the documents and use them when they need to, they just can't overwright into our directory without going through our ECO process.

By: Janet Coleman  Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:04:19 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

In our situation drawings are updated and printed to PDF.  The latest PDF is provided to sales/Cust Serv and that is loaded into their system.  Any drawing changes go through a single point of control and the PDFd changes are are stored in an access controlled location on the server.

By: Gary Garrison  Mon, 11 Feb 2019 15:24:23 GMT
Re: Managing part files without PDM

We write processes and follow them.

That's it.

It's worked before PDM, and it will continue to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also here's a pro tip: install PDM on a workstation and use that, and don't tell anyone. Not saying I condone this, and that I may or may not have experience with this method solving the originally stated problem.

By: Steven McCallion  Mon, 11 Feb 2019 16:31:15 GMT
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