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Non-product specific knowledge capture in Windchill?

BrentDrysdale
5-Regular Member

Non-product specific knowledge capture in Windchill?

Hi Folks,

Sure miss the days of the email exploder (ProE) as I so rarely remember to look at forums (yep, I am a dinosaur).

This is a non CAD question about capturing knowledge that is not part or product specific.  This is the sort of information you want to reuse for other projects across your organisation.  In a previous job it was silos of information kept in windows folders, some more easily accessed than others and others buried deep in somebodies personal HDD or even paper files!  In my present job we have specific software for this but it is a standalone system and I wonder about using Windchill for storing this design related non-part/product specific reference information as it is not related to PLM as such.

Some examples could be:

  • Bend Radii for different materials/thicknesses/hardness's (though this would likely be in a bend table in Creo where is the reference information for it?)
  • Reference articles on deep drawing of sheet metal
  • Reference information on various adhesives (some of which are not in any BoM)
  • Reference links to company products that have been researched
  • ???

Usually with Windchill we have a part or assembly number or possibly a process number to attach files of various types to.  But if there is no number?

My general thinking is to try and consolidate systems so that more people are more familiar with that one system so can better do their work.

Thoughts?

Regards, Brent

10 REPLIES 10

Hi there,

Various Report-type documents in a Public context that every user could read would work.

Note, when I say "Public" context I mean a context that has your primary Organization itself in the Guest role. Therefore every user whose account has been set into that Organization gets read access to it.

We have several Library contexts like this and you could easily link specific Report documents to the parts as reference docs if you wish.

Daryl

I've been using a Wiki for almost 7 years for this sort of thing. Low hurdles to add information.files, etc. Links inside and out of the Wiki. Very easy. The main thing is that links -within- pages to other pages can be made even before the other pages exist.

Downside - need a database and a web server.

Upside - everyone in the company can have access, subject to controls similar to those in Windchill, without a license.

tl;dr A Wiki is something you could build a veritable encyclopedia with.

But aren't Wikis extremely difficult to control access to?

dschenken
21-Topaz I
(To:doehr)

Depends on the Wiki, I guess. TikiWiki, for example, can limit access to particular articles, to the point they don't show up on searches by people without authorization. That should be good enough to let the top staff create and maintain a page called "layoff list" without tipping off the lower echelons. But at that point one needs an admin anyway.

Wikis are just a freeer-format content management system, so they can have all the protections desired. Windchill is primarily a work-flow and record management system, and is less focused on ease of access than access and process control.

Perhaps the fact that Wikis on the Web are often nearly unrestricted has hidden the level of control available for them.

If you install Windchill full text indexing (Solr) and index all ongoing, then it doesn't matter too much what structure or organization this info has - can pretty much just designate a Library or Product (or maybe a Project if you have ProjectLink enough for all), and have all info added there.  With indexing you can find any info pretty much like a Google search.

Mike Lockwood wrote:

If you install Windchill full text indexing (Solr) and index all ongoing, then it doesn't matter too much what structure or organization this info has - can pretty much just designate a Library or Product (or maybe a Project if you have ProjectLink enough for all), and have all info added there.  With indexing you can find any info pretty much like a Google search.

In addition Windchill 11.0 adds the text preview functionality for indexed content.

The reason that Google search works so well is that Google examines links to find the most valuable results. Links is the main reason Google even exists. AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, and the like, indexed only the content of web pages and they are long gone.

The problem with indexed searches is that there is no context to the results, which ends up returning all the matches regardless of relevance**. With the Wiki, context can be a significant portion of the evaluation of how valuable the info is. Done right, there is nearly no searching, just following paths through the information as laid out by the people putting the information in. In the event a person does not like the path they need, they can easily create their own pages/links to get more directly to it and that path will (depending on permissions) be visible to any other users of the same destination, allowing recognition there may be some other linkage that has no search terms in common.

Unlike tagging, the links are an integral part of using a Wiki, so the cost/effort is minimal and can be immediately rewarding.

For example, I have a bunch of Mil specs. Each Mil spec typically refers to other Mil specs. I capture the spec references as links and can see as soon as the page is done if I've ever created pages for the related specs. In some cases I have created a spec page and immediately found a dozen or so pages that had pending references to it. I think that cannot work in Windchill. AFAIK the structure in Windchill is required to be built bottom-up.

For that information that isn't links, Wikis do a fine job of indexing their contents as well.

The other thing Wikis do is provide a handy place for out-of-band communication. I can add comments to pages about the content of the page/document without altering the page/document that is the subject of the comment. If a document is cancelled I don't have to alter the document to say cancelled, and I don't need any release process to cancel it; just add a note that the doc is cancelled. Takes literally 5 seconds, and I type pretty slowly. If there's another document that I find pertinent I can add a 'see also' link and now the user of both documents can see that someone thought they were related.

And if you have documents that can be collected in various ways, it is trivial to make pages of links to those document that include explanations of why those are collected that way - exactly the way that Mil specs have spec references in them.

**This is one reason for begging Jive users to mark answers as correct. It allows a measure of value to search results, but it is a crude measure. Only one person can vote, so if the info was of limited value for one person, it's just the same as info that a large number of people thought was useful. Jive is a little Wikish, so there are links that can be counted. My guess is no such evaluation occurs in Windchill.

I've started using Wordpress at work about 5 months ago for all documentation that needs to be centralized and searchable.

Right now it's running on my computer on a VM with Ubuntu Server OS and a LEMP stack. It's not always online as i turn off the computer when i go home, but at least i have it absolutely under control, which is not the case with Windchill.

It's kinda interesting to see how fast this grows in content and interest.

STEVEG
20-Turquoise
(To:BrentDrysdale)

Brent Drysdale wrote:

Hi Folks,

Sure miss the days of the email exploder (ProE) ...

Two thumbs up. 

Thanks Folks,

I see each posted reply has a green star and Correct Answer beside it for me to select the correct answer.  The reality is that I do not know.

  • Dave makes a persuasive case for using a Wiki format however we have this in another aspect of our organisation and searching in that is truly terrible.  Probably operator error (both original input and searcher) but not well liked.  It has the advantage of being readily understood by most folk.
  • Daryl mentions report type documents in Windchill.  I understand the desire to avoid the the high level of formality associated with actual Lifecycle information.  Mike and Randy added more Windchill information.
  • James mentions WordPress for creating a specific website.  Don't know this and maybe it is good however my thinking is to avoid another system and admin.

So I will leave it there for now with my thanks for your feedback.  Regards. Brent

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