Never Lose Your Design Data Again

Karl W. Schmidt started using data management technology three years ago with the introduction of SOLIDWORKS EPDM.  Data management was implemented due to the number of components we work with on our systems. For those of you that do not know us, Karl W. Schmidt is a global leader in engineering and manufacturing of custom recycling systems. Our products are large – both in physical size and by number of components in assembly.  It is challenging to keep track of all the data created by everyone. Using SOLIDWORKS EPDM, we are able to internally connect all the different files created by our team.  Our large projects can be up to 50,000 components in CAD alone.

When we started using the SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE products two years ago, we had to ask ourselves:  How will all of our current data work with this new technology, and can we develop a system where we seamlessly use our data internally for manufacturing, while taking advantage of SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer, and keep data in the cloud for easy access anytime from anywhere by our customers and vendors?  Through a little trial and error we were able come up with a system to use both tools together in harmony.  Below is a quick breakdown of how we use each tool to simplify and streamline our process from customer engagement through manufacturing.

1) With both PDM and cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE solution in our environment, we had to determine where the “top” level files would reside.

In the beginning of each project we work very closely with our customers, vendors and prospects on collecting their requirements and proposing the solution that would fit their needs. We use SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE products during the sales cycle because they handle all the data during this phase of the project, and the cloud nature of the product enables easy collaboration with customers, etc.  As we design the new product and work on different concepts, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides transparent data management on the cloud with little or no intervention from us. The system ensures that all of the models and data created are always safe and always available to me, my team (regardless if they are in the office or at customer site), and most importantly – available to our customers and prospects.

Once the sales cycle is completed and the project is ready to be processed for manufacturing, we transfer the data to EPDM to begin our manufacturing process.  For example, the finished customer approvals, emails, and CNC programs all end up in SOLIDWORKS EPDM.  We do this based on many factors including using SOLIDWORKS EPDM in our shop at the laser and CNC press brakes so they can pull up 3D models on the fly to double check the parts being created in real time.  They also use EPDM to download any programs and setup sheets as they work.

2)  The number one question we have gotten a lot over the last two years is:  How do you transfer the data back and forth?  Actually, we have a couple methods depending on whether we use SOLIDWORKS 2015 or SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer.

If we are creating small projects that use our “standard” components from the EPDM Masters, we simply use the SOLIDWORKS Connector to upload the files to the customer’s 3D space.

As you can see by the images, everything works just like anyone using SOLIDWORKS would be used to.  You can open, close, save files without even thinking about the data management happening in the background.  The task pane shown below on the right, allows you to control data just like you would with any data management system.


When we use SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer, we can work in the same fashion with all the files as well.

3) The second question we usually get when speaking with people is:  “How do you find your data?”  Since it’s a cloud solution, finding data with SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Designer is easy. As a user you are always connected to the latest information and versions of your designs – I can access this information anytime from anywhere. One of the features I like most about the 3DEXPERIENCE technology is the ability to find your data in a couple different ways.  You can find it in either CAD application or directly through the 3D space and communities.  This allows you to find data through any device that is connected to the internet in a secure and safe way.  This is very useful for us when we are out in the field working with installers and customers.

SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Design Files:

SOLIDWORKS 2015 Files:


The way we can find our data is by using “Tags” within the 3DEXPERIENCE application.  These tags are set up using the 6 w’s we all learned about at some point in our lives – who, what, when, where, why & how. The system creates some of these tags automatically based on “who” is working on “what” and “when.” We also create additional tags for different parts and components in order to capture additional information we need.  These tags can be added on the fly at any point in data creation.  By having this flexibility we can easily narrow down a search to quickly find any data.

In summary, the basis of our business success is flexibility. Most of our customers are constantly looking for new ways to improve the recycling process. Whether they are looking to implement a brand new system, replace conveyors or introduce better methods of sorting, one thing is a constant: everything evolves.  As manufacturers of this technology, we must constantly evolve and look for technology that allows us to develop solutions faster than the competition.  The data management tools within the 3DEXPERIENCE platform coupled with SOLIDWORKS EPDM allow us to have the right solutions at the right time.

Learn more about the data management capabilities of the 3DEXPERIENCE solutions in the “Transparent Data Management Facilitates Innovation in Conceptual Design” white paper.


Mike Buchli

Mike Buchli

Michael Buchli has 20 years of design and manufacturing experience throughout the Midwest ranging from Aerospace to recycling systems. A number of those years were spent learning and understanding workflows and processes to improve efficiency and productivity. From running CNC equipment to welding and painting Michael has been hands-on in all aspects of bringing products to market. Michael is also certified in many areas of mfg and a CSWP. He has also written the CAMWorks Handbook.