Hello Everyone -
I started this discussion so that those of us in the ECAD WGM world can get to know each other - and help us work together to be a unified voice for PTC's ECAD-related products.
I support Mentor Graphics tools for PCB design. Our current production environment includes Mentor Graphics DxDesigner and Expedition, release 7.9.3. We're also using Mentor Graphics DMS for component library management.
We also have a legacy Mentor Graphics BoardStation BSXE2006 environment running under Solaris, also with DMS.
I've integrated both of these environments into our Windchill PLM 9.1 M050 environment using Workgroup Manager for ECAD.
The first effort - for BoardStation on Solaris - was fairly painful and involved several patches from PTC in order to get it running. However, it did finally work for us, with some limitations (see below).
Getting the DX/Expedition environment to work in Workgroup Manager is a more recent effort, and took less time - but still required a patch from PTC.
I'm also working on a Windchill 10 implementation, with the new Windchill Workgroup Manager ("WWGM") for ECAD (the short story: I have a number of capabilities working, but still have issues that need to be resolved).
Some thoughts and concerns on our WGM efforts that can hopefully generate some discussion here:
- We've been unable to get DxDesigner schematic viewables to work properly (both under WC9 and WC10). PTC blames MGC's EDIF implementation - but there seems to be no solution on the horizon. We're sticking with schematic PDFs for the moment.
- In general, WGM has proven to be a "hypersensitive" environment. When it works, it works well - but a lot things have to come together correctly for it to work, and any one of them can cause it to fail.
- It's evident to me that WGM for ECAD was originally developed for the needs of specific customer sites - and if your needs also fit into that model, things can go smoothly for you. If you need something different, you may be on your own.
- Our site makes use of variant designs for handle a number of design issues (i.e., a single PCB design driving different assemblies with different BOM contents). I wish WGM had the ability to intelligently understand PCB design variants in the same way my MGC tools can.
- In general, WGM has a pretty strict view of the PCB design process, and the version relationship between created objects. This can cause problems when managing situations that occur in real-life designs.
- One of the most important things we're looking for in our ECAD/PLM integration is the Product Structure BOM. In the ECAD world, this means the existence of a component library is very important. Since we already have this data in DMS, we use the PTC Component Loader (which is a "Global Services" product, i.e. consulting) to build WT Parts and CAD Documents in Windchill, with the correct relationship.
So: What have you done in the ECAD/PLM integration world? Share your experiences!
I'm currently supporting a Mentor Graphics user in the deployment of Windchill 10 using WGM (DxDesigner + Expedition).
I found some limitations and problems using the EDIF file created by DxDesigner. In particular the system doesn't interpret correctly multiple gates components (e.g. quad NAND). In the imported design, the ref des is unique (and this is correct) but the WGM doesn't accept it.
Obviously if you split tthe references you have the wrong quantity in the BOM (4 instead of 1)!
Do you use the EDIF schematic file generated by DxDesigner?
Did you experience similar problems?
Many thanks in advance, Alessandro
Hello! I'm always pleased to find someone else using WGM in an Expedition environment!
You're discovering one of the aspects in which PTC didn't fully understand the needs of typical ECAD users. I also ran into the same problem you're seeing.
Sadly, the WWGM default for reference designators is to enforce unique values - even on multi-symbol components, such as NAND quad packs or connectors that use a single symbol for each pin.
This is easy to fix:
For WWGM 10.1, within the schematic object in the "Actions > Edit Definitions > Edit BOM Definition", check the "Merge reference designator" box. This will allow components with shared symbols to work correctly.
Note that this must be set for each design. I haven't yet found a way to configure WWGM so this box is always checked, though I suspect there is a way to do so.
I hope this helps you!
A further note...
Within "Actions > Edit Definitions > Edit BOM Definition", you'll also note that there is a check box for "Retrieve variants from design data". If you use the DxDesigner "Variant Manager" functionality, this would lead you to believe that WWGM can directly interpret standard DxDesigner variants.
Sadly, this *not* yet the case. The code behind "Retrieve variants from design data" was written for the old BoardStation approach to variants (which involves a property on individual components), and it cannot make use of the DxDesigner "Variant Manager" definitions. I've been assured by PTC that this oversight is on their list of future efforts, but I have yet to see results in this area.
Currently, the only effective way we've found to manage PCB variants within WWGM is to manually load .CSV listings that reflect the BOM contents for each variant. This is both slow and error-prone - so I hope we have a better solution soon.
Thank you Phil for both your posts.'The Information about variants is very Interesting too. I hope to exchange additional info as soon as I got more experience with WGM. Kind regards Alessandro
You can enable a switch that will resolve this.
On your schematic object in the WGM, checked out;
Right click (or Actions), and then choose
-Edit BOM Definition
There is a check box called Merge Reference Designator that must be selected.
This needs to be applied to each design.
Hope this helps.
Bringing ECAD to PLM
Hello to all of you ECAD WGM users!
I feel your pain regarding uploading electronic BOMs and Variant BOMs. I'm working in the Altium environment and we needed much help from the experts along with some custom code to make things work the way we wanted. Actually, Scott Claes has provided tremendous support to our company. Anyway, we are in the process now of upgrading Windchill from 9.1 to 10.2, which I hear has a better user interface. Of course, there will still be some customization required for the end result to comply with our needs.
It's been a lot of work, but definitely worth it. We can now generate EBOMs automatically upon Check In thru the WGM, including multiple Variant BOMs. I totally agree with your statement, "WGM has proven to be a "hypersensitive" environment. When it works, it works well - but a lot things have to come together correctly for it to work, and any one of them can cause it to fail."
You asked to share our experiences with integration, well here's mine:
First step was creating WT Parts and ECAD Documents for each library component.
Add Altium attributes, including link for SCH symbol and PCB footprint
Associate reference documents and 3D models for each
We utilize a custom script that runs each night to generate a .csv file for each library category, this becomes our database. Thru Altium Designer, components are now linked and can be placed on schematic and PCB. A .csv output file is required for each Variant before opening the WGM.
WGM is customized to run a few Hooks (.bat files) on Load, and on Check In. Variant BOMs need to generate and load manually before Check In. If 'everything' is there and named properly, individual EBOMs will populate on Check In.
I am preparing integration for Mentor Graphics DX-PADS to Windchill. Working with the PTC experts onsite
we are making some progress, but a few concerns are apparent. The PTC people say they understand MGC,
but the interface will not work unless we buy an EDIF license?. Also, they were unaware of the directory structure and
dependencies for DX. Not good for the board designers, it seems the system is very limited unless used for MCAD.
They did mention a "PTC BUG" does anyone know if the software (windchill) is being updated to work better with circuit board design?
If you don't own the EDIF200 schematic license from Mentor then the PTC Windchill ECAD Workgroup Manager will not be able to generate a DX schematic viewable. In the past we had a "free" solution but after Mentor went from ascii to binary with their database our hands were tied. If you plan to generate BOM based off the viewable and not from a hook or if you want to get your Creo View viewables for ECAD schematics into Windchill then you don't have much of a choice regarding the EDIF purchase.
What about the DX directory structure are you concerned about? If you are utilizing an ICDB database for multiple users to do concurrent design in the schematic you will need to ensure these connectiosn are closed prior to doing a WGM check-in/out.
The mention of a PTC bug is a bit too vague to comment on.
Thanks for the prompt reply,
We have the EDIF license, will get it set up and go forward... The PTC Tech was asking for a single DX file, where the database is a set of directories and configuration files (created with the Archiver). We will use the data embedded PDF (after reading the previous post about viewables) to distribute. It was after the first few weeks when we found out about needing EDIF, the tech explained there was a bug and the license would be needed interim. No detail was given as to the nature of the fix. We will also need to associate 3D board models and vendor files.
We are using ICDB, so thanks for the info on check in.
We have made progress, and the other posts here help me understand the constraints - it will take some time working
through the issues.