As an engineer who has used CAD for over 15 years, I have had the opportunity to see and use a variety of different file management tools. I am sure that they all have pros and cons regarding installs, upgrades and general IT related worries, but as a user, here are the top 5 things I love about SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional.
Number 1: Copy Tree
Copy Tree allows me to create a duplicate group of files at are reproductions of the originals while keeping the file references. Plus it is FAST! Unlike Pack and Go when drawing are included, Copy Tree doesn’t need to go through all of your referenced paths looking for each drawing to figure out who are the parents and if it is a drawing that is needed or not.
Number 2: PDM Templates
PDM Templates allows me the ability to create folder and data arrangements from a template. The template will collect data I give it and then transfer this information through the entire project folder arrangement. Metadata for the data cards can also be carried into the files. This automates the process of starting a new project based off of an older project and I am not stuck doing “busy work”.
Number 3: Work Local
Any user who has encountered a corrupted file knows the issue with working over a network. The files you are opening and editing are on the server and if there is a network glitch (even for a second) while you are saving there is a good chance your file with become corrupted. There can also be long “save times” when files are not local. From the user prospective it means we avoid saving which has obvious issues. But when I checkout a file in SOLIDWORKS PDM it will relocate a copy of the file to my local cache. This means the chances of a corrupted file drop significantly and my “save time” drops as well. Plus, there is always a read only backup copy left on the Server.
Number 4: History Of A File
As a user it sometimes becomes necessary to work with different versions of SOLIDWORKS files. Maybe I need to know what changes were made in the last version. Or maybe a customer needs a replacement part for something they purchased years ago and the new version will not fit. SOLIDWORKS PDM’s ability to show the history of a file becomes irreplaceable. At any time I can view, get, save, rollback, compare or print a previous version of my files. This even include different phases of my workflow!
Number 5: The Add-in
Working with SOLIDWORKS PDM in Windows Explorer is great. But one thing that makes SOLIDWORKS PDM even better for users is the add-in inside of SOLIDWORKS. This gives me access to the PDM task pane so that I have many of the PDM tools (check out, version info, change state, etc.) without minimizing the SOLIDWORKS window.