They say it takes 3 things to keep that Crazy little thing called “love” strong in a relationship:
- Hard work
- Always remembering the reason for why the love started in the first place.
At CAPINC, our Sales and Engineering teams love our customers! We always remember that YOU and your success are why we are at CAPINC! We have a passion for all the products we support, and we work hard for you!
Love, hard work, and passion run rampant at CAPINC. But no one at CAPINC feels this like two of our Applications Engineers: Michael LaFleche and his bride, Elba-Gloria LaFleche-Erazo. Their love thrives on their common interests:
SolidWorks, Enterprise PDM, and music.
Here’s their story:
“After the June 1st tornado stole our home just a month before our wedding reception, Mike and I definitely need a break…. but our calendars were already filled with training, consulting, and implementations at various customers all around New England. As much fun as that all is to us, we were spending too many days apart. We decided to take a vacation… of sorts. We booked a week’s stay at a cozy hotel in Concord, MA, and signed up for some fun: a 4-day class called “SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Advanced Admin Training and Project Management Workshop”. Very much like a scuba diving class, this class ended with a Certification Exam. Also like a scuba certification exam, it would be hands-on with a lot of pressure coming in from all around us to pass this exam, because (in our minds), our lives depended on it!
First we had to meet pre-requisites to even take the class: we both had to have completed Basic Enterprise PDM training, we had to have taken and passed the multiple choice-style Certified Enterprise PDM Support Technician exam, and we had to be proficient in delivering an Enterprise PDM demo. Mike already has every technical certification SolidWorks Corp. offers, and has been successfully demo’ing EPDM to the masses for years. So: “Check!” , “Check!”, “Check!”
I, (EG) have been working very passionately over the last 4 months to catch up to Mike and to expand the horizons of my knowledge of the Dassault Systems suite of products. So: “Check!” , “Check!”, “Check!”
Then we had to take the class. Ever heard the phrase “drinking from the fire-hose of knowledge?” Well, let me tell you: Joy Garon, our instructor, is quite a remarkable “fire-woman”. She’s been at SolidWorks Corp. for a long time, is a Sr. Education Specialist, and has hunted and gathered quite a treasure trove of information.
Before she started the lessons, she had us all copy “pure gold” from her flash drives to our computers. Then… gold being so valuable now-a-days, we “Vaulted” it! The class started with “simple” things, such as back-up, restore, move, and upgrade of SQL Database and Archive Database. We transitioned into Workflows, Revision, Templates, and property mapping into MS Office and XML documents. Then we got to go home and do homework for the evening! This is when we had a chance to calmly chug from the pooled knowledge of the day.
The second day consisted of learning how to write Dispatch utilities, which is not only fun, but rather simple! Then we were thrown into the deep end of the pool of knowledge. Joy taught us how to query the SQL database for information. This required a map… literally… of the tables stored in the SQL database, as well as a language lesson. We had to learn the syntax of SQL if we were going to navigate its geography. We also had to swear to follow the Prime Directive of the “Enterprise PDM”: no human shall contaminate the SQL Database or any table therein. We may extract information from the SQL Database, but it is a violation of the EULA and terms of Warranty to write to the SQL Database.
Our final destination in day 2: Reports! SQL-based, Excel-linked, even web-based reports! Oh, the power!!
Let me share with you Mike’s list of his favorite things, or as he puts it:
Top ten reasons why EPDM makes SolidWorks better
# 10: Files are copied to a local user cache on your hard drive, rather than working directly over the network. Studies have shown that working locally on a fast hard drive vs opening files over the network increases performance and reduces system lockups.
# 9: Sharing files with local and overseas customers, suppliers, and branches is faster with web access to files and replicated vaults. For example, if you are working with an overseas supply chain partner, you can nominate a certain part of the Vault to be automatically replicated to another local server at their site. File download time is now removed from the equation with replicated Vaults and everybody always has the latest version of the file, no matter where in the world you are. Now everyone can have some cake, and eat it too!
# 8: As good as an ice cream sundae: the SolidWorks Toolbox data library can be stored inside the EPDM Vault and the files can then be stored in each user’s local data cache, which is faster than storing the Toolbox in a plain network drive, as the file would need to be downloaded over the network. The whipped cream: users can also search for files within the Toolbox if stored in the Vault. The cherry on top: if you are a global company, the Toolbox is replicated to local data vaults over the Wide Area Network (WAN)!!
# 7: Searches in EPDM vs Searches in SolidWorks are like the difference between driving a Ferrari and driving a Tercel. EPDM Searches are indexed and managed by SQL Server, which is architected to handle large data sets. Custom search cards can be developed specific to your needs. For example: you can search your Toolbox for all screws that fit a certain hole in the context of the ones that cost the least and are in stock!
# 6: No more walking down the hall to the part number book. Automatic part numbers can be assigned to documents in the Vault. When you open a new SolidWorks part, a new part number is assigned and EPDM saves the part in the Vault immediately, so if a system crash occurs, the part is still reserved and safe in the Vault.
#5: SolidWorks Templates can be saved in the Vault and automatically deployed to end users. So when you start a new design, your company standards are already preset with no intervention from the end user. Don’t you wish your taxes were that easy?
#4: ECOs, or Engineering Change Orders, can be completely automated. When you discover that something needs a design change after it’s been released, all you have to do is right click on the files and start an ECO, which then creates a new ECO document in the format of your choice (Microsoft Word for example). This automatically forms a bond with the SolidWorks drawings to which the ECO action refers, and the ECO can be approved by the appropriate person or committee. Like Magic!
#3: Your task list is ready and waiting for you. Simply pull up a saved search that shows what you need to work on, and what is overdue (not saying that job could possibly be overdue). Collaborate with other users in your vault with instant messages on the documents that you are working on together, even if you are an ocean apart.
#2: File references are no longer lost, ever! You can rename files and move them to different folders and all is well. SQL Server is managing files once they are stored inside of EPDM. This means you’ll retire with significantly more hair.
#1: Do what you love to do: design new products. EPDM lets SolidWorks design engineers work without worrying about process, saving PDF and DXF files every time a design is released or making sure that all revisions of a design are backed up with the correct permissions. Simply check in and release your files and the automated workflow of your system takes care of the rest. EPDM let’s SolidWorks be your design tool, and minimizes your mundane tasks!
We met Gagan Ahuja, Field Services Manager who flew in from Santa Monica, CA to share his wisdom with us. He had us take a few steps back so we could see the big picture, (read: immensity) of our task when performing an implementation. Gagan covered as much Project Management as he could in 8 short hours, and left us with a hands-on exercise to be completed in groups by the next morning. (more homework!) To our great relief, Gagan shared some very useful tools that SolidWorks provides to us so that we won’t have to re-invent the wheel for every implementation we perform!
Day 4 – Exam Day
We presented our homework to the rest of the class, took a break….. and then…walked the plank! Er… I mean… we took the test! The test had a 4 hour time-limit, so the instructions for the test were given to us at the end of day 3. Why? Because the 12-page set of instructions would consume an hour of time just to read!! It turns out that the exam instructions guide you through a full implementation of an Enterprise PDM vault!
The first part consisted of setting up users, groups, permissions, revisions, data cards, and mapping variables. Then we imported a workflow into our vault, and had to “Verify all possible routes for all users by using test files.” No, I’m not kidding. There goes another hour! Why? Because not only are we testing that our part of the setup was done correctly – Surprise! the workflow we imported had errors that we had to troubleshoot and fix! After we had tested that the setup was done correctly , we moved on to Part II of the exam: Vault usage.
We were given very specific instructions that mimicked “a day in the life of the vault”, where we had to log in as different users and perform various tasks. I love the notes at the beginning of Part II:
- The exercises in Part II are only meaningful if each and every step in Part I have been finalized and proved to work as intended.
- Be sure to follow each step exactly as outlined.
- If all steps are not completed, the examination is considered “not passed”.
The third part consisted of writing a dispatch utility that would rename SolidWorks files “per the instructions provided”. Believe it or not, this was the easiest part of the exam!
Once we were done, Joy or Gagan came around to our workstations, logged in to our vault, checked file histories, performed certain tasks, and tested our Dispatch utility.
I am very proud to announce that, not only did Mike and I pass the test – we were two of the few people who did not have ANY mistakes!!!
Mission Rekindle the Romance – COMPLETE
We took turns driving home, stopped by to pick up celebratory food and drinks, and jointly prepared a seafood dinner like the newlyweds we are.
We slow danced while singing Queen’s “We Are the Champions” to each other, reveling in the fact that we are the first married couple in the world to have become Certified Enterprise PDM Professionals. While enjoying a glass of homemade wine (made by one of CAPINC’s customers), we re-wrote Queen’s song to fit our joy. Can you guess which song it is?
This thing called “Cert”,
we just got a handle on it!
This thing called “Cert”,
we just got around to it
Are you ready?!
Crazy little thing called “Cert”.
This thing called “Cert”
Made us cry, like babies
All day, and all night
It shook us all over like jellyfish
We kinda liked it!
Crazy little thing called “Cert”
Sitting with my baby
Learning how to write the code,
It drove us crazy
It gave us Admin fever
You’ll love EPDM, I bet!
It’s gonna be cool! Not hard,
You’ll be great with data cards
Don’t take a back seat, don’t fret
And take the long class then the “Cert” test
Then you’ll be ready!
Crazy little thing called “Cert”.