I ran into an interesting challenge while helping a customer through an evaluation of EPDM. He wanted cascading style pull downs on his data card. This, in itself, is not a big deal, but he ran into a problem that I had not considered before. If he selected values in his pull down menus and then went back to the driving pull down to change its value, it would leave old information in the other fields creating an impossible combination of values.
- The setup:
- The problem:
- The solution:
When we do implementations, it’s very common to find that customers use PDF files as their officially released document. This becomes especially important for departments within the company that are not CAD users. Fortunately, SolidWorks EPDM has configurable tasks built in that not only allow the creation of PDF documents, but you can also trigger these events from your workflow automatically.
Process for Automating the Creation of PDF files in Enterprise PDM:
- Finding the conversion task:
When you begin the Convert Task, the following bullet points illustrate the nine options that appear in the blue left-hand column:
- Areas of interest on the first page (Add-In):
You can have the task execute as a different user other than the logged in user. That is, you can execute the task with a user that has the permissions to do so. I recommend the default option of <Execute as logged in user> and be sure to allow task execution in the user or group settings.
- Areas of interest on the second page (Execution Method):
“Is my machine enabled?” That is a very good question:
In the bottom right of your Windows 7 desktop is the notification area. (You’re on Windows 7, right? XP support stops next year for SolidWorks). Select on the up arrow and select the EPDM blueberry. Choose “Task Host Configuration.”
- Areas of interest on the third page (Menu Command):
Here you will enter what you will see when you right mouse click on
a file in your windows explorer while you are in the vault. “Status bar help text” allows you to control what is displayed when you hover over the menu command similar to a tool tip.
- Areas of interest on the fourth page (Conversion Settings):
This is also where you decide which configurations are being exported and which sheets will be exported. The critical thing that I will mention is you can allow the user to control these settings. You will notice there are several opportunities to check the option “Allow the user to change this setting.”
- Areas of interest on the fifth page (File Card):
Rather than using an input data card for your exported PDF’s, you can copy existing information from the original drawing’s data card over to the new one. This is the method I use most often. It keeps you from inputting data twice.
- Areas of interest on the sixth page (Output File Details):
On this page, you set the output path of your newly created PDF files.
You also determine what the new PDF file will be named. The right arrow next to the output path allows you to choose variables to assist in naming the file. On this page, you can also choose a secondary path for output and decide what you want to do with duplicate files.
- Areas of interest on the seventh page (Permissions):
Here you determine which users or groups will have the ability to execute this task.
- Areas of interest on the eighth page (Success Notification):
- Areas of interest on the ninth page (Error Notification):
In the unlikely event of an error, you can specify what the message reads and who will get the message. Maybe you would pick someone you have a grudge against and have all the error notifications go to them, or it may be better to have the person that executed the task receive the notification. Just like the step above.
I mentioned earlier in this blog that you can execute these conversion tasks in the workflow. Edit the properties of the transition that you would like to trigger the task. Typically, that would be the transition that sends the files to the approved state. Create a new action and select execute task from the pulldown. Typically, PDF’s are only created for drawing files, so be sure to have the action only run on SLDDRW files..
After completing all of these steps, you will have successfully automated the process of creating a PDF!
I look forward to hearing any questions or comments on this topic. So, please feel free to post comments below, or to email me at SWTech@prismeng.com.
Thanks for taking a look at today’s blog. Until next time, I wish you happy data management.
Data management has always been a focus for engineering and production companies. Even companies without a PDM (product data management) system utilize data and revision management.
Consider the example of drawing a “title block” or “revision table” in SolidWorks. In many ways, drawing title blocks and revision tables is a form of data management. Engineers and designers maintain current revision numbers (or letters), sign offs, design changes, and “where used” information from the title block and revision table. This may work out OK when your engineering team is only one or two people working on one project at a time, but as your company grows and your productivity increases, your team may need to look to a computerized system to handle product data management (PDM).
Enterprise PDM (EPDM) is a great Windows-based data management solution for SolidWorks users.
3 great benefits users see after implementing SolidWorks Enterprise PDM:
1. Workflow Management and Notifications
The workflow management in EPDM will allow for seamless approvals and can incorporate digital sign-offs to approve revisions. The built-in notification system can instantly notify required users when a document is ready for review and can be moved through the design process without email, phone notifications, or verbal confirmation.
2. Company-wide data management solution
While EPDM is known as, “The data management solution for SolidWorks,” it can also manage revisions of ANY windows-based document. Word docs showing ECOs and .jpeg images illustrating proposed changes, excel spreadsheets or any other windows-based document can be checked into the EPDM vault and revision managed. Document workflows can be tailored to handle these file types using different rules that SolidWorks file types.
With this capability, EPDM can then be utilized by EVERY department, not just engineering: legal, marketing, order management, manufacturing, etc could all use EPDM to handle their data management needs.
3. Instant cross site and multi-site collaboration
With EPDM, collaboration becomes instantaneous. Users and viewers from different departments access all files in the vault (provided they have permissions) at any time during the design process. If a company has multiple facilities in different locations the EPDM vault can be replicated so that the data in the vault will instantly reflect changes made at any of the sites. Should one of YOUR customers need to approve a working design they can be given temporary access to the files and allowed to view their files, even from offsite.
This small list only scratches the surface of the possibilities and advantages you will gain by implementing Enterprise PDM. For more information please feel free to contact the Prism Engineering technical team.
Hope you enjoyed this post,
Certified Enterprise PDM Professional (CPDMP)
Prism Engineering, Inc.
Amtrak commuters don’t usually throw the morning paper aside to examine the shear genius behind a seat design, or to watch in awe as the train car doors seamlessly slide open and shut. They are usually too engrossed in the daily news or hiding behind laptop screens answering the emails received before the sun rose.
But think about it: how could a giant steel car, filled with hundreds of people, hurdling down iron tracks at dizzying speeds be so nonchalant? Some may say, “Genius!” Others may cry, “Aliens!” The truth behind the silent beast? SolidWorks.
Prism‘s team has worked hard to provide Amtrak with the latest and greatest SolidWorks software, training and support. We’ve helped them work through every step of the process: design, simulation and data management. It’s crucial that Amtrak be able to swiftly and efficiently update designs, so Prism helped solve their critical business issues with SolidWorks–now they’re almost as fast as the famed Acela line!
We realize not everyone’s SolidWorks designs determine the future of the United States infrastructure, but we do know that each company has its own specific needs. It’s important to communicate your design and modeling process to your re-seller; this enables them to unveil opportunities and solutions you may have otherwise overlooked. Can you save time and money in product testing with Simulation software? Do you outsource? Maybe 3DVIA can help you eliminate manufacturing miscommunication.
Amtrak’s success resulted from effective communication with us; remember to express your obvious wants and needs to your reseller, but also share with Prism your entire process–a fresh perspective may make a world of difference in your process.
(You can read SolidWorks’ description of Amtrak’s success here)