Is Managing Files Really Enough?

For design teams of any size, it is important to keep track of your design data as the design progresses. A Product Data Management (PDM) application is a good start. It manages CAD data from one centralized location, keeps track of revisions, maintains links between files and controls access through authorizations.

For SOLIDWORKS Desktop, like all file-based CAD systems, it is important to keep in mind that the file does not include all of the product data to manage. These SOLIDWORKS files include the geometry definition, parameters, product structure, component relationships and other design-related data. However, the full set of data to complete the product definition may include electrical, software and manufacturing-related items defined and stored independently of SOLIDWORKS.

Having separate, disconnected sources of product data can lead to a number of challenges.  How do you ensure that information is accurate and up-to-date across multiple systems?  How do you effectively find and manage data across multiple locations? How do you know if a design change affects items from a different application?

Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than between engineering and manufacturing. The CAD product structure is the basis for the Bill of Materials (BOM). Manufacturing typically manages and updates the BOM in a spreadsheet application (such as MS Excel).  Since the engineering and manufacturing data are no longer connected, the BOM does not automatically update with a design change and vice versa. Keeping these in synch is either a manual process or a function of product lifecycle management (PLM) application. Either way, this is a key source of data mismatch, errors, cost overruns and project delays.

Giving everyone a voice in design

In addition to disparate applications creating and maintaining data, there are many non-CAD stakeholders who need to be able to review designs and provide feedback but have no access or knowledge to use SOLIDWORKS. These include engineers defining the product architecture, design managers providing input and field engineers reporting product issues or design changes. How do you ensure that this extended product team receives, manages and incorporates their insights into the design?

With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform! By connecting SOLIDWORKS Desktop to the platform, designers continue to work in SOLIDWORKS with files while the design data becomes part of the full product definition. The platform manages the CAD files, supports engineering processes and makes the design data accessible independent of SOLIDWORKS to any authorized team member with a web-browser to visualize, explore, mark-up, or edit.

That data is also natively available for 3DEXPERIENCE applications used for advanced design, engineering, simulation, manufacturing and other disciplines. One clear benefit is that the product structure and bill of materials are different views of the same product definition. This means there is no manual process or automated synchronization function required.

In conclusion, managing SOLIDWORKS files is necessary but not sufficient to ensure everyone in product development is working with the right data at the right time. Product data management is a good first step but cannot address the greater need to manage and define the entire product definition in a single location available to all. For that, you need the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Read more about how you can easily manage your product data in the cloud on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform here.


Howie Markson

Howie Markson is Global Offer Marketing Director for Dassault Systemes. He has also been a Product Manager, Product Marketing Manager and a Mechanical Engineer for companies large and small.

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