EPDM – Implementing a Change Form

EPDM – Implementing a Change Form

In this tech article, we will discuss the implementation steps of a typical change form that will initiate a change to an existing SOLIDWORKS design. What we want is to have a separate process/workflow for the change form that drives files in the existing workflow for our engineering data. First, let’s look at what we need to set up when we introduce a new type of file. In this case, we are going to create a new document type called “ECO” or Engineering Change Order. To do this we will create the following objects in the Enterprise Administration Client:
• Category for the ECO Document
• Unique Data Card for the specific ECO metadata or variables
• ECO Workflow

In order to add more control to how our new ECO document is created, the following are optional steps for the set up:
• ECO Serial Number (control the assignment of a serialized number such as “ECO-1234”)
• ECO template (control the seed file that is used, what folder the ECO document is created in and how the file is named)

Today we will focus on the ECO workflow and how to relate it to our design workflow. The following image is our Engineering Data workflow that all our SOLIDWORKS files go through.

Design Workflow in Enterprise

Design Workflow

You can see that a change to an “Approved” document is simply a state change from “Approved” to “Work in Process” through the transition “New Release”. Since we want the change to be controlled by the ECO document, we can modify our workflow slightly by adding a new “ECO Pending Approval” State.

Updated Design Workflow

Updated Design Workflow

With the “ECO Pending Approval” state, we now have a way to effectively communicate to others that an ECO is in process and that the design may be changing. Since we want the ECO document itself to go through its own workflow, we will need to set that up. In addition, we want the approval of the ECO to drive the SOLIDWORKS file to “Work in Process” and if the ECO is rejected to return the SOLIDWORKS file to the “Approved” state. To do this, we need to simply name the transitions the same so when we transition the ECO, we can include any affected SOLIDWORKS files in the transition even though they are in their own workflow. Below is our new ECO workflow.

ECO Workflow

ECO Workflow

You can see that our 3 transitions in the ECO Workflow are named exactly the same as in our Design Workflow. Now we have the back end workflows set up so the last step is to link the affected SOLIDWORKS files to the ECO prior to submitting the ECO for approval using the “Paste as Reference” command.
In my setup, I have an ECO template created so that when an ECO is created it will be named using my serial number generator and placed in my ECO folder.

Creating ECO using Enterprise PDM Template

Creating ECO using Enterprise PDM Template

Once the ECO is created and checked out, we will selected the affected SOLIDWORKS file(s) and use the copy command to then “Paste as reference” to the ECO. This will create a parent/child relationship from the ECO to the affected SOLIDWORKS file(s).

Creating File References in EPDM

Creating File References

In the example above, we have an ECO “ECO-69504” that is linked to 2 affected SOLIDWORKS part files “SW-201770” and “SW-201772”. With our workflows setup, once we check in and submit our ECO for approval, the change state dialog will include the SOLIDWORKS part files and allow us to move them to the “ECO Pending Approval” state at the same time.

Submitting ECO for Approval

Submitting ECO for Approval

Once the ECO has been reviewed, if it is approved the SOLIDWORKS files will move to the “Work in Process” state or if it is rejected then they will go back to the “Approved” state. So by naming the transitions in two separate workflows the same, any linked documents can be transitioned at the same time as the parent document.

Read More EPDM articles on the MCAD Tech Blog.

Author: Leif Johnson