Solid Edge

On the Edge: Tightly Integrated cPDM for Solid Edge

9 Feb, 2006 By: Russell Brook Cadalyst

Integration between Solid Edge and embedded cPDM (collaborative product data management) provides increased design productivity and ease of use.

In this month's article, I discuss how Insight and Teamcenter connect Solid Edge and the underlying data management platform. Insight and Teamcenter Express run on Microsoft Windows while, Teamcenter Engineering runs on UNIX or Microsoft, which provide a range of scalable products, that you can choose the entry level to suit your needs today, and grow your managed solution as your business demands grow.

No matter which level of cPDM or platform you choose, this CAD and cPDM connectivity ensures that all essential Solid Edge commands are encapsulated and makes sophisticated data management functions transparent without placing an additional burden on the Solid Edge user. And because product planning, development, testing and certification are carried out at the same time, the integrated connectivity is available with each Solid Edge release.

Transparent User Interface
The key to gaining productivity is to make the data management transparent to users. Under a managed environment, a user flag identifies the cPDM to Solid Edge and modifies the standard interface accordingly by making important but subtle changes to familiar Solid Edge commands. For example the modified File Open' dialog, is modified to combine both Solid Edge file open overrides with data management tasks such as searching, and version and revision control (figures 1 and 2). Assembly pathfinder provides up-to-date design information, such as who has a component checked out, whether a part is available for editing or if a later version is available. As files are opened, you have further options to download them to your local cache, and if you want to, check out some or all of the parts that make up an assembly.

Figure 1a shows the File Open dialog which combines both Solid Edge configuration overrides with managed data options.

Figure 1b shows the assembly structure and the various file retrieval options.

Figure 2. Advanced search and browse tools are integrated into the familiar dialog boxes allowing you to quickly retrieve your data using part number, revision or any defined property. You can apply additional filters to retrieve files using the latest saved, latest released or last saved files versions.

Depending on a user's profile, you can restrict the tasks they can/need to perform. Your shop floor may only require the latest released designs as they manufacture your products, while your design team also needs access to the latest version, as they are designing components or revising a previously released design.

As users work on their designs, implicit file operations automatically check out and change the status of files as they are updated (figure 3). For example, if a part needs editing, simply activating it by double-clicking the file, automatically checks it out to the user performing the operation. As a safeguard, users are informed via the EdgeBar if another designer is already accessing a file and are prevented from simultaneously editing the same file. EdgeBar can be used to synchronize with the managed data to provide up to date information on the status of your files and who is working on them.

Figure 3. The Solid Edge EdgeBar provide users with up-to-date feedback on different functions within Solid Edge and Teamcenter, such as assembly structure, revision and version information, and whether a file is checked out. EdgeBar can be synchronized to provide up to date information.

By using a local cache, system network performance is maximized. Projects are automatically cached on the local machine as they are retrieved from Insight or Teamcenter, enabling fast access to files as users work on the data. Smart cache management tools monitor for out-of-date files and synchronization technology ensures that file and BOM information is always up to date. (figure 4).

Figure 4. The local cache system improves system network performance.

Complete Solid Edge Encapsulation
Tailored to Solid Edge, the integration with Insight and Teamcenter provides an increased depth of coverage that ensures all essential Solid Edge commands are encapsulated. Insight or Teamcenter functionality is implicitly invoked as appropriate on all document creation points for ASM, PAR, PSM and DFT files, including Tubes, Libraries, Divide Part, Virtual Components, Family of Parts and Mirror Assembly. For example, Mirror Assembly will create managed "opposite hand" components during its operation..

EdgeBar provides the primary user workflow for placing parts or assemblies into a project. Using simple drag and drop techniques, parts are automatically added to the managed assembly (figure 5).

Figure 5. Drag and drop parts to automatically add them to the managed assembly.

Sometimes there is a need to replace parts because they were superseded or exchange a simplified conceptual component for a completed replacement. Although this task is simple enough for Solid Edge, it is also encapsulated by the cPDM integration, ensuring that users are aware of all the latest details and modifications as they work (figure 6).

Figure 6. PDM integration encapsulates changes to ensure users are aware of all the latest details and modifications. Here we exchange a conceptual part for a completed sub assembly, with detailed components and split line information.

Drawings contain all of the parts that make up an assembly. A managed version of Solid Edge automatically establishes all associated links between 3D components and drawings -- ensuring all the most recent associated 2D and 3D data is kept up to date and only the most recent models and drawing are in circulation.

Synchronized Release
Solid Edge, Insight and Teamcenter are all developed by UGS, so product planning, development, testing and certification are carried out at the same time. Therefore the Integrated tools are upgraded with each Solid Edge release, and customers are never out of synch with latest versions or waiting for the PDM tools and integration to catch up. Of course, you can upgrade Solid Edge independently of Teamcenter or Teamcenter Express without risk to data integrity. Developed and tested as a matched set also means that all the latest Solid Edge technologies are encapsulated within the integration as they are developed.

See you On the Edge next month.

About the Author: Russell Brook

Russell Brook

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