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What’s New in SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021, Part 2

CAD PDM

What’s New in SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021, Part 2

Those who read my article What’s New: SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021 may have been impressed with the volume of enhancements in the 2021 release of SOLIDWORKS Manage. With the additional enhancements we delve into in this current article, the quantity of enhancements is indeed impressive.

At the time of writing, I am referencing the SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021 service pack. No doubt the enhancements will continue to flow in upcoming service packs for SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021.

The first enhancement I will look at is right at the start of SOLIDWORKS Manage—the login screen. After expanding Options, the user can choose from all available Manage System files. This in itself is not new, but the display is cleaner and, thankfully for my eyes, larger.

System drop-down.

The main improvement in the login screen for SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021 is a separate window for organizing the list of System files. Adding and removing system files obviously is not new, but having a separate window to do this will be helpful in environments where there are multiple SOLIDWORKS Manage databases.

Editing system files.

There are also filtering tools to help users find particular system files.

Systems filters.

For those new to SOLIDWORKS Manage, a SOLIDWORKS Manage System file is used to link the SOLIDWORKS Manage Client to the SOLIDWORKS Manage Server.

I got an email from Elton Xhemali, Managing Director of RevZone Solutions Ltd.  RevZone is the developer of SOLIDWORKS Manage.  He wanted to alert me to some great enhancements added after the official release of SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021.

When Elton mentioned “multi-windows” or “modeless windows,” initially I wasn’t sure what he meant. However, once he demonstrated this enhancement to me, I could well understand how nice this enhancement is from a usability aspect.

Anyone who has worked with SOLIDWORKS PDM Manage knows there can be multiple Property Cards open at any given time. In the past, it was required that some Property Cards be closed in order to access other already-open Property Cards. Now, multiple open Property Cards can be easily accessed. A user can easily jump between Property Cards or align Property Cards side-by-side for referencing.

Multi-windows/modeless windows.

This next enhancement is one of my favorites, and one of the coolest to watch.

SOLIDWORKS components could previously be manually added in SOLIDWORKS Manage BOM.

Manually adding an item to a BOM.

Components existing in SOLIDWORKS, and components manually added to a BOM.

Now when these items are added to the SOLIDWORKS Manage BOM, they will appear in the SOLIDWORKS Task Pane.

SOLIDWORKS Manage in SOLIDWORKS Task Pane.

What’s really slick is that components manually added into the SOLIDWORKS Manage BOM can be dragged into a SOLIDWORKS assembly from the SOLIDWORKS Task Pane.

Component.

Once the assembly is uploaded, the components originally manually added in the SOLIDWORKS Manage BOM become standard SOLIDWORKS BOM items.

Uploading components manually added to a BOM.

Display in SOLIDWORKS Manage after upload.

As Elton noted, “The ramifications of this are big. An engineer can work out a BOM from the SOLIDWORKS Manage desktop/web, then when a designer opens SOLIDWORKS, they can drag and drop them into the assembly directly.”

The next enhancement I’ll look at involves SOLIDWORKS Manage Processes. In a Process Workflow, multiple users may be required to make a decision at any given stage. In previous releases, all decision-makers would have to vote in order for the workflow to progress. This could result in lost time while waiting on a user’s vote. In addition, if any user rejected the stage, the originator would not get notified until all votes were cast. In the case of rejection, there is no useful purpose to forestall notifications while waiting for someone to vote.  

Now, as soon as one user rejects a stage, the process is sent back to the originator.

The help feature in SOLIDWORKS Manage provides a good example of how this works: “… if five users are required to make a decision, if the first user selects a ‘reject’ value in a field, the condition driven by this field can be evaluated immediately, and send the process back rather than await the other four decisions.”

Execute conditions.

A powerful tool in SOLIDWORKS Manage is the ability to work with third-party data sources. This functionality is achieved through a 3rd Party Link Field (3PL). These 3PL’s are used to link to data sources such SQL, Excel and Access, to name a few of the more common sources. 3PL’s can be used to get information from these data sources or to take advantage of custom SQL scripts. In SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021, 3PL fields can now be turned into a drop-down list that is populated by a SQL Query.

Enable multi-value format.

The result is that the field acts as a list and is powered by the 3PL in real-time. Elton referred to this new functionality as “Multi-value 3rd party fields.” On looking at this name, I wasn’t sure what it meant, but when this feature was demonstrated to me, I could well understand the power of this new functionality.

Results of multi-value format.

Similar to Multi-value third-party fields, Custom Tables are also populated by a data source, such as a SQL query. The data source can come from SOLIDWORKS Manage or from another source such as an ERP/MRP solution. The custom table can be displayed on the right-hand side of the Property Card or the property tabs below in the main user interface (UI) by clicking on the icon at the top-right corner.

Displaying a custom table.

There are options for controlling the display of custom tables, and the contents of a custom table can be exported.

Custom table options.

The data in the custom table can interact with the various fields in real-time. This means that as values are selected in the Property Card, the corresponding values displayed in the custom table are recalculated in real-time from the linked data source.

Another nice enhancement for BOMs is Reference Specific Values. Reference Specific Values can be assigned to a child component, and that reference only exists when viewing the child component in the contents of a parent. If the child component is viewed on its own, the Reference Specific Value will not be present. Reference Specific Values can be assigned to all levels of assembly structure.

Reference Specific Values.

Reference Specific Values are useful when there is information about a child component that is relevant for a specific assembly. For example, there may be information, such as a delivery date, that is relevant to a child component only for one assembly. The delivery date may not be relevant to any other assembly that contains the child component.

SOLIDWORKS PDM is a component of SOLIDWORKS Manage, and for some it may be a large piece of their Manage environment. In SOLIDWORKS, PDM files transition from state to state as they progress through their PDM workflow. To ensure that the PDM state will be updated in real-time in SOLIDWORKS Manage, SOLIDWORKS PDM States are now System Fields in SOLIDWORKS Manage.

PDM State field.

Looking at Gantt charts, previously project progress was calculated by a 3PL that was included in a template. The use of 3PL’s made calculating project progress more involved. Now the updates are instantaneous and are handled strictly by SOLIDWORKS Manage. There is also now the ability to easily update progress from Tasks.

Update project progress.

Effectivity is a utility that updates the “Effective From” and “Affective To” date values of record items. In SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021, there have been enhancements to Effectivity and how it integrates with BOMs. When assigning effective dates for record items, the dates can be set to automatic so that no one can change the date, or permissions can be assigned so only certain users can change the dates. Any changes to dates will permeate through all BOMs and Structures. There are now also tools for filtering items by how they relate to Effectivity.

Filtering based on Effectivity.

If a record does not contain Effective Dates, then Effectivity can be added to a record from Manage Administration.

Applying Effectivity.

To give better control of which SOLIDWORKS PDM records can enter a process, processes can be configured to only allow SOLIDWORKS PDM records with predefined states. If no PDM states are defined, then all states are allowed into the process.

Process inputs.

Another BOM goodie is the ability to compare Flattened Linked Record BOMs with document BOMs.

Compare flat view.

In SOLIDWORKS Manage, every main grid can have up to seven icon columns. These are Status, Tasks, Comments, Related Files, File Type, Configuration and BOM. All but Status can be shown or hidden in order to filter what is being displayed. This can help reduce clutter and make comparing columns easier.

Column visibility.

In SOLIDWORKS Mange 2021, icons have been made more graphic in order to make it easier to identify different types of fields. These new icons are specific to each field type.

Icons for different fields.

To make it easier to track changes when a Primary Document has changed, the grid for the Linked Record will show an exclamation mark (!) to indicate the change. After checking out the record, the Linked Record can be updated.

Updating a Linked Record.

In SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021, the PDM Synchronization Wizard has seen many enhancements, including the ability to exclude PDM Variables. This can be useful for reducing the amount of information being mapped, and accordingly reducing sync times.

Excluding PDM variables.

Speaking of synchronization, Elton notes that disabling ‘Show synchronization steps’ can greatly reduce synchronization.

Show synchronization steps.

I had not expected to write another article about new enhancements in SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021. As is witnessed in this article, the rate of enhancements for Manage is incredible, and I may well be writing another article to cover more upcoming enhancements for SOLIDWORKS Manage 2021.

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Joe Medeiros is an Elite Applications Consultant at Javelin Technologies. Javelin Technologies is a premier SOLIDWORKS reseller, servicing customers throughout Canada. Javelin 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 and SOLIDWORKS Data Management solutions.