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Solid Edge ST9 Built-in Data Management, Pt 1 – Folders & Files

During Solid Edge University 2016, I spent the morning prior to the official start of the event sitting in the workshops on data management. One session that intrigued me most was the new built-in data management tools available with ST9. The reason for my interest is simple, and was even stated during Greg Baldwin’s presentation – if you do 3D modeling, you do data management.

Yet, nearly 60% of the Solid Edge customer base doesn’t have a dedicated data management system in use, based on information presented in the workshops.  Why not?

  • Cost prohibitive
  • Difficulty to deploy
  • Insufficient IT resources to manage and maintain
  • Training
  • Integrations with other systems
  • Coordinated rollouts & upgrades – integration compatibility

If you do 3D modeling,
you do data management.


The good news is, wherever you store your Solid Edge files now, you have everything you need to take advantage of the built-in data management tools available with Solid Edge ST9.  But, there are a few settings that need to be configured to make it work optimally.

Set up the Vault

Whether on your local drive or a network share, your Solid Edge files are stored in a folder structure somewhere. If you are the only user, then keeping the files on the local drive is fine.  But, for any workgroups of two or more, the files should be stored on a network share, preferably a dedicated file server.  While shared folders will work, the performance will be less than optimal to downright frustrating. Since I’m using myself as the example for this article, I will be setting up my vault on my local folder, but the process is the same on a file server.


Your existing structure still works, but add the life cycle stage as the second level structure.


cad-vault
An example folder structure to store CAD files.

First Level Folder

The first level of your CAD file storage should be a single folder. In my example, I named it “CAD_Vault”. While there are many ways to organize your CAD files: by filetype, by project, by client, or by phase in the development-to-production process, all the files must be located within a single top-level folder within the drive.

Second Level Folders

The second level of your folder hierarchy must be the life cycle stage of the file. Even if you don’t have a formal release process, pretend that you do and name the second level folders based on the release stage.  In my example, I named the folders after the stages on the Status tab of the Solid Edge File Properties: Inwork, InReview, Released, Baselined, and Archive (for the Obsolete status).  Although the built-in data management tools don’t utilize all of these life cycle stages currently, it may in the future and there are other benefits in having the structure defined.

Subsequent Level Folders

The third and subsequent levels of your folder hierarchy can be anything you want, including the existing structure that you have now.  Just be aware that the folder structure is going to be repeated identically below each lifecycle stage folder, as shown with the InWork and Released subfolders.

File Naming

Hopefully you already have a part numbering system for your company.  If you don’t, you probably have more “brackets” in your CAD library than you have products to put them in. If you don’t have a part numbering convention yet, this may be the most painful part of the setup (see footnote).

File naming cleanup, also known as data prep, can be a time-consuming venture. But, it also pays dividends, not only with being able to effectively utilize the built-in data management tools, but also because the data organization will help streamline your design process.  For Solid Edge, the best file naming convention consists of three parts: the unique base number (which may or may not include a configuration number), the deliminator, and the revision.

12345-1^A.par 

12345^A.dft 

The number is the unique identification that is defined by your part numbering system. The deliminator is a single character that separates the number from the revision.  The revision is the last set of characters after the deliminator before the file extension.  By default, Solid Edge sets the deliminator as a dash (-) but I like to use the caret (^).  Be warned, if in the future you want to use an Oracle database, you may have issues with the caret.  I avoid the dash and underscore simply because those characters are often used elsewhere in the filename.

Organize Your Data

That’s the first step in setting up the built-in data management tools, and likely will be the most labor intensive step as well, depending on how clean your data is.

Use Revision Manager (pre-ST9) or Design Manager (ST9) to move and rename files.  I will hint that you can use Windows Explorer to move files if there are no duplicate filenames and the filename doesn’t change.  When combined with the Link Management file and the Open/Save batch file, you can quickly move a lot of files and resolve broken links quickly.

Also, even if you aren’t using Insight, Insight SP, or Teamcenter, the data preparation tools that come with Solid Edge can still be used to prepare your files for built-in data management.

So get to work cleaning up your cad library and stay tune for the next part of the built-in data management series.


Footnote: 
I am certified in Configuration Management. If you need help developing and implementing a data management plan, contact the Services Group at www.icmhq.com and mention my name.  

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