SOLIDWORKS Manage 2020
Since its addition to the SOLIDWORKS family of products, SOLIDWORKS Manage has seen substantial development, and the 2020 release continues along that path. In this article we’ll review some of these developments.
The first group of enhancements I’ll look at relate to the user interface (UI). This includes changes to the existing UI as well as brand-new user interfaces.
Note: Some of the items covered in this article were released with SOLIDWORKS Manage 2019 service packs. I’ve included these in this article for those who may not have installed the relevant service packs.
The Dashboard Viewer is a stand-alone application that interacts with SOLIDWORKS Manage dashboards (see Figure 1). Using the Dashboard Viewer does not require logging in as Editor or Contributor and therefore does not require any of those licenses. Using the Dashboard Viewer will require at least one Viewer license, though.
Any dashboard created in SOLIDWORKS Manage can be displayed in the Dashboard Viewer. These dashboards are available from a pull-down in the Dashboard Viewer as shown in Figure 2.
The information displayed in the dashboard can be made to update automatically by setting a Refresh interval as shown in Figure 3. Having the dashboard running continuously and setting a Refresh interval will provide real-time updates.
Administration Tool Application
As with the Dashboard Viewer, there is now an independent interface for SOLIDWORKS Manage Administration as shown in Figure 4. Like the Dashboard Viewer, Administration also eliminates the need for a separate Manage license in order to perform administration tasks. This also allows an administrator to work in the Manage Administration and Client functions independently.
In this way, changes can be made in Administration and then tested in Client without first having to close the Administration interface. Previously, SOLIDWORKS Manage Administration had to be closed before a user could interact with Client.
The Administration tool can still be accessed from the Manage Client, but since this requires first logging into the Client, a license will be needed as shown in Figure 5.
SOLIDWORKS Manage is now integrated into Microsoft Outlook. After logging into SOLIDWORKS Manage, a user can add emails to an existing record or create a new record from an email as shown in Figure 6.
Once an email has been sent to a record from Microsoft Outlook, SOLIDWORKS Manage is activated. The user can then select a record and attach the email from Microsoft Outlook as shown in Figure 7.
More in PDM Explorer Vault View
The SOLIDWORKS Manage tab in SOLIDWORKS PDM Explorer Vault View (see Figure 8) contains the following additional tabs: Properties, BOM, History, Where Used, Tasks and Emails (thanks to the new Microsoft Outlook integration).
Dark mode, or Night-time mode, is now available as an Interface option. This can be set from the SOLIDWORKS Manage Login or from My Options. If the mode is set in My Options, SOLIDWORKS Manage must be restarted before the changes will be applied (see Figure 9).
One of the core areas of SOLIDWORKS Manage, Projects, has seen significant enhancements.
SOLIDWORKS Manage can now import projects from other programs such as Microsoft Project. Currently, these exported projects must be in XML format. The ability to import projects can eliminate the need to recreate these projects in SOLIDWORKS Manage. Manage projects can also be exported to XML (see Figure 10).
When importing from Microsoft Project, Project Start, End and Duration are imported as are predecessors, and Microsoft Project Tasks become Stages.
Scheduling and Loading are additions to Manage, which can be used to help better define Project Timelines. Schedule and Load charts both provide a graphical overview of users’ capacity across the timeline. A Schedule Chart (see Figure 11) displays stages, for which each user is assigned as a resource. A Load Chart displays the timeline, where a user is assigned as a resource, and highlights in red if they are assigned to more than one stage at that time.
There are additional charts that are now available in SOLIDWORKS Manage 2020. Pert charts provide a graphical representation of a project’s timeline and Network Diagrams provide a graphical view of a project’s stages, dependencies and critical path (see Figure 12).
Project stages can now be Split, and a Split Stage can be removed. Any remaining Time after the Split will form a new Stage as shown in Figure 13.
While Insert Stage is not new, in earlier releases stages were always added to bottom of the screen and needed to be moved to the desired location. Now, Stages can be inserted directly into the chosen location.
The new Holiday Register allows personal Holidays, Absences and Public Holidays to be displayed and edited (see Figure 14). Along the top of the screen, checkboxes control what type of events are displayed (Holidays, Absences, Public Holidays). On the right side of the screen, days can be entered for each event. Holiday Register is a key component of Capacity Planning.
Capacity Planning visually displays the capacity and utilization of all resources. The upper panel displays the Capacity of the resources and the lower panel displays the Demand (see Figure 15).
A pick list makes it easy to select which resources will be monitored (see Figure 16).
Personal Holidays, Absences and Public Holidays can be accounted for individual users and the icon on the right side of the screen provides easy access to the Holidays Register. The overall Efficiency of the resources can also be set as shown in Figure 17.
In the Capacity Planning options, the working days and the number of working hours can be defined. Under the Color tab, colors can be assigned to capacity ranges as shown in Figure 18. For example, the color red can be used to identify when capacity drops below a certain level.
The other core area that has been enhanced in SOLIDWORKS Manage 2020 is Processes.
In the Workflow Properties of a Process, an administrator can add process conditions. Conditions can be added to a Process Stage to prevent a record from being sent to the next stage if those predefined conditions are not met, as shown in Figure 18.
When creating or editing a Process, related records can be added to exiting affected items as shown in Figure 19. This includes parent and child records and references. Multiple related records can be added, including those that are stored in different objects.
While sending items through a Process, the items can be split into related sub-processes as shown in Figure 20. The history of the parent process is retained within the sub-process. Sub-processes must first be enabled in SOLIDWORKS Manage System Administration for them to be available in the Client.
The following are general enhancements that do not directly relate to the above categories.
Send to Process
While related to Processes, Send to Process is located in the ribbon bar for records as shown in Figure 21.
Back and Forward Navigation
When working with records, it is now easy to navigate back and forward between individual records by clicking on Back or Forward in the ribbon bar as shown in Figure 22. This is an enhancement that provides the ease of use found in other SOLIDWORKS products and shows how Manage is being brought to the SOLIDWORKS standards users are accustomed to.
The SOLIDWORKS Manage Administrator can now create Task Templates. Using Task Templates can reduce the time and effort required to create a Task by predefining information such as the Assignment, Priority, Time Allocation and general details of a Task (see Figure 23). Task Templates can also be made Global, so that they are available to all users.
Administrators can add Object Notes to all objects except Project and Process objects. To use Object Notes, the Manage Administrator must first enable Object Notes for a particular object. Once enabled, Object Notes will appear in every record for that object. The data of Object Notes is specific to a field group. Adding notes to one field group does not apply it to another group.
Copy From BOM—Update Child References
Copy From provides the ability to copy information from a bill of materials (BOM) within the same record or from another record. In SOLIDWORKS Manage 2020, it is now possible to update child references that are used in the BOM Copy From operation. Manual Quantities can also be copied using Copy From.
Multiple Object BOM Import
It is now possible to import records from multiple objects when using Import from Excel file. There is also a new area on the template form that allows users to specify additional objects to search.
From the Search All command, users can run administrator-defined queries of the Manage database, without needing to directly access the database management tools. The Manage Administrator determines who can run these queries, and users can define customized procedures, which can include input parameters (see Figure 24).
Customized Affected Item List
Similar to BOM variants, the grid where affected items are viewed can be customized. Fields can be added as well as have conditional highlighting applied to them.
Multilevel Limiting Lists
Limiting Lists are no longer limited to two levels, and child can also be parent.
The web client now can be run as either Plenary (full) or Targeted. The Administrator determines who can access only the Targeted Web Forms (see Figure 25). The Targeted Web Forms are created in Manage System Administration. Multiple Web Forms can be created, and the Administrator can determine who has access to each form.
The Plenary Web client can now be connected to SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional. This allows Check Out/In, change state and send SOLIDWORKS PDM data to a process.
This release of SOLIDWORKS Manage 2020, along with enhancements in service packs for SOLIDWORKS Manage 2019, has greatly improved user interaction and provided powerful new tools. One can only imagine what the developers at SOLIDWORKS are working on for service packs of SOLIDWORKS 2020 and the release of SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021.
About the Author
Joe Medeiros is a Senior Applications Engineer at Javelin Technologies, a premier SOLIDWORKS reseller, servicing customers throughout Canada, offers SOLIDWORKS customers expertise in implementing and using SOLIDWORKS solutions. Joe has been involved in many aspects of the SOLIDWORKS product family since 1996, and as an award-winning blogger, he regularly writes about SOLIDWORKS solutions.