SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM Best Practice: Non Revision Changes
When working with design documents, 9 times out of 10 the designer wants to make sure that any changes they make are recorded via revisions. Enterprise PDM does a fantastic job of doing this for us by automating the revisions through the workflows that we have set up. We release files for physical production, and when changes need to be made, we send them to a different state, make the changes and re-release them. Viola, new revision! However, what happens when we need to modify something simple on a released file? Say… a typo or new dimension? We don’t really want to create a new revision for the part or assembly just for a minor change as that would add a lot more confusion and take up more virtual real-estate than necessary. Enter the minor revision workflow loop!
The minor revision workflow loop is a great way for certified users to pull a file out of the released or production state to make those little changes that don’t actually affect the form, fit or function of the part. Also, it can be added to your workflow at any point in time without affecting your existing states and transitions. Below is an image of a standard CAD Workflow complete with a standard revision loop:
Although this is perfect for most circumstances, if a file is released, the only two ways to make a minor change is to A) Send it through the “Request change” transition and create a new revision of that file, or B) Give a user the permission to check out the file while it is in the “Released” state. Option A isn’t a very efficient solution and option B is quite obviously dangerous! So the best way for us to tackle this situation is to create another loop coming from the “Released” state. Below is an image of my workflow, now complete with the minor revision loop:
Now we have two options when a change is required on a file that has already been released; “Request change” and “Make a Minor Drawing Change”. Obviously the wording of the transitions may be a little different, but the effect is still the same. With this loop, we can move files to the new “Minor Change in Progress” where the users have permission to check the files out, then release them back into production. The main difference being in the transition going back to the “Released” state. When a file goes through the “Request change” loop, as it comes back around and get’s re-released through the “Change Approved” transition, the internal revision and “Revision” variable are updated with the new revision number or letter. However, when a file goes through the “Make a Minor Drawing Change” loop, as it is re-released through the “Minor Changes Complete” transition, those actions to not occur. See the difference between the two transition actions in the images below:
So there we have it. One loop to make a true revision change, and another simply to correct some minor mistakes. Notice how both transitions still contain the “Create PDF” action? That will ensure that no matter how you change a drawing, a new PDF will always be created once it has been re-released. For a little added security, you can also set up some conditions to only allow SOLIDWORKS drawing files through, or authentication to force users to enter their passwords before the transition, just to make them think a little!
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Derek Lawson – PLM Consultant