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Recommended way/structure to organize CAD files (assemblies, parts, drawings)?

BW_10112401
4-Participant

Recommended way/structure to organize CAD files (assemblies, parts, drawings)?

I'm new to using Windchill so I apologize for the dopey question.

 

I have a lot of old assemblies and parts that I need to add to Windchill (say 50 assemblies each composed of 20 parts, so ~1000 files). They are currently organized (not on Windchill) using folder names, where each component has its own folder at the same level. For example, folder "blah" would contain the assembly and parts for component "blah".

 

Since I don't have permission to add folders, I reached out and was told it's not good to organize things like that in Windchill and I should just put everything in the same folder. Not having various folders to organize components seems like it would make it difficult to locate components if they aren't named in a descriptive name (which they aren't, and I don't want to change the filenames). So if I have all the files in a single folder, rather than separated by folders with descriptive names, how will the next new person know what assemblies are what? Is there a way to link a document that maps a descriptive name to an assembly?

 

Basically I'm struggling with how someone in the future will be able to easily navigate to what they want if I'm not using descriptive folder names like is commonly done in filesystems. Any advice or suggestions is greatly appreciated!

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
TomU
23-Emerald III
(To:BW_10112401)

While folders are not necessary, they can certainly help us humans keep things organized.  We use lots of folders in Windchill and in some places have a very deep folder structure.  Yes, there are other ways to collect and group related data, but using folders certainly doesn't hurt anything.

 

Keep in mind that all objects in Windchill must be unique.  You cannot upload the same objects multiple times to different locations (folders, products, libraries, etc.)  Things are definitely going to get more complicated during your upload process if you have multiple files with the same names in different folders in your local filesystem.

 

Another approach would be to create a separate product for each folder you currently have, but that is probably overkill for this few number of files, especially if they all need the same access permissions, lifecycle states, etc.

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5 REPLIES 5
TomU
23-Emerald III
(To:BW_10112401)

While folders are not necessary, they can certainly help us humans keep things organized.  We use lots of folders in Windchill and in some places have a very deep folder structure.  Yes, there are other ways to collect and group related data, but using folders certainly doesn't hurt anything.

 

Keep in mind that all objects in Windchill must be unique.  You cannot upload the same objects multiple times to different locations (folders, products, libraries, etc.)  Things are definitely going to get more complicated during your upload process if you have multiple files with the same names in different folders in your local filesystem.

 

Another approach would be to create a separate product for each folder you currently have, but that is probably overkill for this few number of files, especially if they all need the same access permissions, lifecycle states, etc.

BenLoosli
22-Sapphire III
(To:BW_10112401)

Your admin or whoever told you that folders were not a good thing in Windchill, does not understand the full complexity of Windchill and the human mind. Like Tom said, folders can help you organize your different products into logical units that make it easy to find the objects needed for an assembly. With those small (20-25 parts) assemblies, maybe put them in folders that identify the top assembly/drawing. When you get into more complex things, then you can consider different products to group things.

When loading the files by opening the assemblies from disk, you will need to be aware of the uniqueness for objects in Windchill. If you have the same part with the same name in different folders on disk, you will need to only have 1 of those in Windchill. Replace the component with the one already in Windchill rather than rename and import the same component multiple times.

Good advice on doing some cleanup and uniqueness checks on data ahead of time. I agree that folders help but not to the level that @BW_10112401 was presented with where each CAD item had its own folder. The things you needed to do outside of Windchill are different inside, namely cad uniqueness (filename and number). Some structure is important to avoid everything at the top level and waiting for that page to load. To make transition easier, it might make sense to import to a few folders than move once inside. 

When I migrated to Windchill, all our released data was in zip files. Each component was zipped with its drawing. Then those components were zipped again when used in a higher assembly. We had to derive the true proper copy from the myriad of zip files and ended up working bottom up. My head still hurts from that.

Just try to find the right balance and see if the rules you used outside make sense inside. Do people want to search or browse to find data? What happens if folding falls apart and you spend more time folding to make finding data via browsing work? Does making multiple products make sense?

Hello BW_10112401 and welcome to CAD data management in Windchill. 

You've gotten good and wise answers from some top admin's already.  I'll add 2 cents.

 

Remember these key additional points:

1. Each CAD Document created will a CAD Document Number, which will generally match the filename. Each CAD Document will also need a CAD Document Name.  The Name should not match the filename, but should be descriptive for users. Windchill needs to be configured such that the CAD Doc Name can be different from the CAD Doc Number.  In addition, each CAD Document can have a Description (with considerably more characters allowed).

 

2. Filling in CAD Doc Name, Description can be laborious.  All can be filled in efficiently thru a command that reads in a spreadsheet (saved as CSV, then converted to xml).  Can plan on doing this after loading all.

 

3. Since all these are currently stored in separate folders, in addition to potential conflicts there may be intentional re-use of certain components.  If so, all files should be brought into a single workspace prior to adding them to Windchill, in order to find these duplicates and determine which is the latest and should be kept.

 

4. Be sure to publish all CAD.  Encourage users to fully utilize the thumbnail images in searches / folder views, etc. Note: Search (for each user) can be configured to use "large thumbnails" instead of the default small ones.  This may help users browse thru existing data.

 

5. Where-used and structure relationships will be key to users finding what they need in addition to points above.

 

2. 

STEVEG
20-Turquoise
(To:BW_10112401)

The two main ways of creating folders (there are others) is by numbers or one of your products you see to customers.
We use the former. Any file that starts with 40 are part numbers and they go in a folder named prt40, all files that start with 82 goes in a folder named asm82, and so on. Very simplistic I know but it works for us.


The reason we do it this way is because there are many, many parts that are used across many, many end products we sell. There are other company's that the parts in each assembly is not used anywhere else. Therefore they can create a separate Context for each end product with different rights for different users.

 

Having said this, it really doesn't matter how your folder structure is just so it works for you. Once inside Windchill the search will find it no matter where it's at the folder structure. It's much easier and faster to use the search function. It is very rare that any of my users browses to the folders to get an item.

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