SOLIDWORKS PDM Part 4: Preventing Duplicate Data Generation and Rework

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How much time do you or your engineers spend re-doing work? Do you accidentally duplicate each other’s work? Are you constantly backtracking to determine which files are the most recent? Situations like this do occur, but they start becoming commonplace as companies expand and experience growth. A data management process that worked well for 1 or 2 people, may start losing its effectiveness when more people become involved. Work duplication and re-work interferes with progress, slows down lead time, contributes to missed deadlines, and can ultimately cause errors. Product Data Management (PDM) Systems provide some great benefits to help prevent work duplication or rework from occurring including providing designers with visibility to other’s work, enforcing read-write access to files, and enforcing naming conventions for files and folders.


SOLIDWORKS PDM preventing duplicate data

Are you experiencing déjà vu at work? Déjà vu is that familiarity of experiencing the exact same sequence of events in the present as in the past. We experience déjà vu in full force when we find ourselves repeating the same tasks and processes several times a day with almost no results.

Examples include re-modeling a component from scratch, searching in vain for files, finding duplicate files of the same model, trying to determine which files are the most current, and backtracking through our approval paper trail.

Repetitive tasks, work duplication, and rework occur because of three main deficiencies in data management:

1. Engineers lack visibility to their teammates’ efforts.
2. The current and most recent file set is unclear.
3. Poor or unenforced file naming conventions.

If this sounds familiar, you probably just experienced déjà vu.


PDM systems can manage data to help eliminate the duplicate work or rework. PDM Systems do not allow duplicate file names and can even automate file and folder naming conventions. PDM also provides visibility on which user is working on which specific files. PDM captures a complete history of each file within the system. Every check-in / check-out action, workflow transition change, comment, notification, revision change, and engineering change request is being stored. This provides employee accountability, enforces sign-off procedures, and allows the engineers to know exactly which files are the most current.

1. Provides Visibility to What other Engineers are Working On
Scenario: A design engineer says, “I didn’t realize you were working on that. . . .” This phrase indicates that the design engineer did not have visibility to others’ work. As a result, work may have been duplicated or overlapped.

PDM provides visibility to what other members of the team are working. This visibility is as simple as providing the name of who has files Checked Out, workflow state status, and the last date modified. Also, PDM provides ‘Private State’ modes regarding files that have not been checked in to the vault yet. This is a great tool to provide visibility on what other people are working on.

2. Prohibits Multiple Users from Editing a File at the Same Time
The Check-In and Check-Out features that PDM provides goes beyond simply showing who is working on specific files. When a file is ‘Checked-Out’ of the PDM vault, whoever has the file Checked-Out is the only person with full read-write access to the file. All other users can access the file in a read-only mode or through the PDM viewer, but they cannot make changes. This is a simple, yet powerful, method of eliminating duplicate work. The system simply will not allow two people to overwrite the file at the same time.

3. Prevents Duplicate File Names
Scenario: Engineers find multiple files that are named almost the same, but are time-stamped only minutes apart. Which file is the most current? How does the engineer determine which file is the current and proper file? Take a look at the issue in the picture below, which file is actually Revision B?

It is nearly impossible to tell what Revision B really is, especially without any further information or context. The file name and revision issue above indicates file and folder naming conventions that are not being enforced and followed. PDM enforces and maintains naming conventions as the system will not allow duplicate file names. PDM also goes beyond just prohibiting duplicate file names and can automate file and folder creation by utilizing variables, serial numbers, and templates.

4. Extensive File History and Searching Capabilities
Scenario: Your design engineer says, “It is easier if I just remodel it. . . . .” Have you ever heard an engineer say this? How much time is now wasted in rework as the current project file set is unknown or cannot be found?

Phrases such as the one above indicates that the engineering team is struggling to locate the current project files or that the design changes made are not correlating with sign-offs and existing paperwork. PDM provides extensive searches to find files quickly. Once found, the design engineer can access the history of any file to determine which changes were made, why the changes were made, and who approved the changes. The history, Check-in, and workflow transition comments provide valuable context on the work that is completed on the file as well as the verifying which version and revision has been approved.

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