I recently had the opportunity to travel to some lesser developed parts of the world. I was amazed by the simplicity of life while, at the same time, terrified by some of the living conditions. One site that struck me was the prevalence of motor scooters as a means of mass transit. Don’t get me wrong. I like to ride motorcycles and scooters as much as the next guy. But entire families riding on one scooter, at the same time, without helmets, is not what I consider a good idea. Yes, motor scooters are cheap. They use very little gas. And they enable people to get around over long distances who might not otherwise be able to afford to do so. But for children and families, that comes at a high risk.
As unrelated as this might seem to the engineering business, it made me think of what many consider an inexpensive and accessible way to store their proprietary intellectual design property. Standard network or local file storage. It is cheap and accessible. Everyone with a computer has disk space. But it comes with risk, just as does loading your family onto a motor scooter, without helmets, for an afternoon drive.
Anyone who has worked on shared files over a network has had one of these experiences. They may have had their carefully crafted files overwritten by another user who saved after they did. Their files may have been renamed or moved to an unknown location, lost in the mass of gigabytes, and lucky to ever be found again. Or even worse, shared innocently and unknowingly with a competitor or other miscreant through web file sharing applications.
I’m reminded of a meeting with a SOLIDWORKS customer who was happily saving files on a shared network drive with a handful of engineers. As we discussed how things were going with SOLIDWORKS, the team asked a few how-to questions and showed us some of their impressive designs. Hesitantly, a power user in the group raised a concern. “We have a big problem,” he said. “I spend an hour or more every week updating drawings and assemblies that some of the team unknowingly break by renaming or moving files. How can we stop everyone from doing this?” The customer was at risk for damage to their critical design data. Luckily this power user caught many mistakes and corrected them. But did he catch them all? And wouldn’t his time be better spent engineering and designing with the team?
For my family, our plan for risk avoidance includes an automobile with seat belts and even an approved booster seat for our youngest. It comes at a higher initial cost, but has significant long-term benefits. For engineering and design teams, SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM should be the foundation to your risk avoidance plan. It was the tool that ultimately helped this customer eliminate the need to fix problems caused by well-meaning users. It more than paid for itself in a few months by not only enabling their power user to do more design work each week, but also by providing a faster, more efficient way to use and find SOLIDWORKS design data and other associated documents.
SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM helps you avoid file sharing conflicts through a simple check-out, check-in process. Everyone on the team can see who is working on a file at any time. Enterprise PDM automatically manages file references for SOLIDWORKS files along with several other native CAD formats. If a user renames or moves a file, all of the associated drawings and assemblies are automatically updated and the change is stored in the file history. References don’t get damaged and you can always tell who made the change. Enterprise PDM also keeps a full file version history. You can never overwrite your work. Previous versions can be retrieved to understand as-built configurations or to check for re-use in new designs.
With these along with the many other features, you too can reduce your risk and be more productive with SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM. Losing design files might not have the same element of imminent physical danger as scooters, but playing fast and loose with data places your projects in peril. Enterprise PDM acts like a helmet for your data. Think: would your mother want you riding without one?