Written by Michael Nolte, Application Engineer
Learn the 4 methods that can be used to bridge the gap that is blocking communication between departments by connecting SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional.
With the lines between Mechanical and Electrical design getting more and more blurred these days we see a lot more SOLIDWORKS customers also having a need for a seat of SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics to document their wiring schematics for their products, services or implementations. On the Mechanical CAD side there is a growing number of customers that have seen the value of implementing a Product Data Management (PDM) to take control of their File management, Revision, Approval process and over all CAD file references.
Here are a few of links of the specific products that we’ll be discussing.
to export Projects and information from SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics to import into your SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional vault:
- Basic: export to folders
- Update Files for PDM
- Check In/Check Out
- SOLIDWORKS Electrical with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Connector
Before going into the 4 Methods let’s talk about what you can export from SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics for each project using the ‘Link to SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Configuration’ utility.
Archive Tab: Is the export of the project archive (.PROJ.TEWZIP file) Defined: Archiving a project backs up all of the documents and data within it, as well as items required for design work like symbols, title blocks, and settings.
Drawing Tab: Export of a .DXF or .DWG file of all of the project drawing pages.
Note: If you use this option and your PDM has been setup to prevent duplicate file names you have to change the ‘Formula for file name’ to be unique to the project and the PDM vault.
3D Tab: ‘Export 3D files’ check mark enables the option to export 3D CAD data from the project during export. If you own a license for and work with SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D add-in for SOLIDWORKS (you know the 3D drafting/design program), then this tab becomes more important.
There are a couple of nuances about this 3D export. If in the Application Settings of each of the SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics client systems > on the 3D tab you have cleared the check mark for ‘Copy 3D parts to project’…
Or if when you create your 3D SOLIDWORKS Assemblies from the ‘Process’ tab > ‘SOLIDWORKS Assembly’ button you elect to ‘Select existing file’ and use an existing mechanical assembly to be used with your electrical project…
…then 3D export option may not export anything into the specified subfolder path on the ‘Link to SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional configuration’ window.
PDF Tab: Check this box to export one or more PDF “Intelligent” files into your PDM vault for all PDM users to view the Schematic. These “intelligent” PDFs have Component and document tree bookmarks that are accessible from the Bookmarks button in your PDF Reader.
It also groups all the drawings in the project by book. This tab has an additional slick option to ‘Create bookmarks and hyperlinks.’ This option gives the end user, when they open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Reader, the option to click on hot spot areas that will jump you to either another schematic of the same component symbol reference or across to a different page using the origin / destination arrows, all by the end viewer of the PDF.
Report Tab: Gives you the ability to export predefined report data in .txt, .csv, .xls, .xlsx format
Bill of material Tab: This tab groups specific reports for PDM that can be used for import to other systems like PLM/ERP. Check the reports you want to export and during the export with generate Comma Separated Value (.csv) files. The parameter Run after export allows you to select a different application that will open the file containing the result of the bill of material export.
Alright Let’s get back to the 4 Methods of how SOLIDWORKS Electrical integrates with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional. Where in the SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics software do we go to start making these changes for the first 3 methods?
Tools tab > ‘Link to PDM Configuration’ button.
Method 1) ‘Basic: export to folder’ – This option is for companies that may have their own PDM system that isn’t SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional or for companies that use network shared folders for storage. As you can see below the button in the Electrical Projects Manager still says that your exporting to “PDM” but this would be a non-SOLIDWORKS PDM system or a folder export.
Method 2) ‘Use “Update Files for PDM” button’ – This option gives us the same button look in the Electrical Projects Manager. This method is best for sites where multiple users are working on a single shared Microsoft SQL Server hosting the SOLIDWORKS Electrical databases, and where all team members are using SOLIDWORKS Electrical. Great for many users of Electrical Schematics to be working on the same projects at the same time.
With this method, when you click ‘Update files for PDM’ button in the Project Manager, the documents are created and checked in to the PDM vault and ownership is released. Great to get back versions of projects and get the project assets like PDF and BOMs visible to other people in the company that have PDM access.
Method 3) ‘Use “Check In/Check Out” buttons’ – This option changes the look of the buttons in the Electrical Project Manager into two buttons. One for Check In and the other for Check Out.
This method allows users to check out projects directly from the SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional vault and check them back in, essentially controlling the workflow. It’s great for sites where users work on different Electrical databases and want to manage and collaborate on projects by checking data in and out of a shared SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional vault. The Check In/Check Out method is also a good choice when users often have to work outside of their offices (for example on customer sites), and when managers want tight control over which engineers/designers have access to project designs. I.e. Less collaboration on the same project at the same time.
Side Note: When you switch to this method the software opens up a PDF describing the differences and how you should not switch back and forth between the methods.
C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS Corp\SOLIDWORKS Electrical\Documentation\EN\SWE_EPDM_Workflow_EN.pdf
Another change that occurs is the Project Manager projects list adds a new column of ‘PDM status’
With this method when you go to check a project in from the Project Manager, you are prompted to select an option of how you want the project to be checked in. The first option is ‘Project in progress’ which keeps ownership to you but checks in a copy of all of the project archive and all other documents, like PDFs. Next option is to say that the ‘Project Complete.’ This selection checks in all documents, including the project archive and then releases the ownership.
With Method 3), once a project is completed and checked in, it is removed from the SOLIDWORKS Electrical project manager until which time a revision is needed for that project and you click the ‘Check Out’ button, browse for the project archive in the PDM vault and Import it back in to SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics. Ownership of just the Project Archive (.proj.tewzip) is then given to you.
Method 4)** – ‘SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Connector’ has a laundry list of benefits, some are beyond what the other 3 methods can do.
- No Cost for the Connector software (The other methods are included with Electrical Schematics also)
- Initiate new projects from inside PDM vault view
- Initiate new PDM project from SWE
- View BOM in PDM
- Utilize PDM revision control of Electrical Schematic Projects
- Unified Mechatronics BOM
- Ribbon Tool bar in Electrical Schematics software
- Integration into the PDM right-click menu
- New with 2019 Electrical / PDM connector:
- Administrator can configure within PDM Administration program for all users
- DWG/DXF file version can be set
- Optional restriction of where in the PDM vault the Electrical projects can be stored
- Metadata is more bidirectional then in previous version of this utility.
- Open project from local PDM Vault.
- Check out reserves project files in PDM for current user.
- Undo Check out removes the reservation for the project file(s).
- Check in store the Electrical project in the Local PDM vault.
- Get Latest Version updates the current Electrical project with the latest version.
- Get Version update the currently Electrical project with a specific version.
- Search opens a search dialog to search for objects in the PDM vault.
- Show opens the location of the Electrical project in PDM vault view.
- Show Card opens the data card for the Electrical project folder and container.
- Change State pushes the Electrical project through a PDM Workflow.
- Synchronize Library creates new virtual documents for Electrical manufacturer parts and cables in PDM and synchronizes the attributes in both systems.
- Select Vault opens a dialog to select a different PDM vault.
What data gets Stored – The integration stores the SOLIDWORKS Electrical project with the data for manufacturing, purchasing and assembly of electrical designs in SOLIDWORKS PDM.
- Project Container – Snapshot of the project files and database – (.tewzip)
- Drawings sets – DWG or DXF format – Used for sharing schematic content with all collaborators who do not have access to SOLIDWORKS Electrical
- Intelligent PDF files – One PDF for all reports and drawings or One PDF for each document book.
- Assemblies and BOMs – For each location found in the project, a virtual document with extension (.swe.cvd) is created in the project folder. Assemblies in SOLIDWORKS PDM contain BOMs as set of links to manufacturer parts and cables.
- Other project-related files – An electrical project can contain a variety of supplementary files such as design documents, reports and screenshots.
Installation of the ‘SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Connector’**
**We strongly recommend having your VAR (Value Added Reseller) of SOLIDWORKS, services team to do the setup and configuration of the SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Connector mainly to protect your company data and the successful install of the Connector. You can reach our Services team by emailing them at Services@DASI-Solutions.com
Items to be aware of at the time of when this Blog was posted:
- The Connector will use a PDM Professional CAD editor or contributor license.
- All methods do not fully integrate with SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard, contact your SOLIDWORKS Reseller to get a quote to upgrade to PDM Professional.
- SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Connector had to be obtained from your VAR (Value Added Reseller) of SOLIDWORKS.
- Does not fully integrate with 3D CAD files of electrical components. This is a future enhancement they are looking at. I.e. the ability to have metadata from the Electrical Mfg. Library pushed/pulled into the .sldprt file data cards.
- Renaming of projects can get away from users if not done properly. I.e. prevent of duplications of the same project.
- Harnesses are a future enhancement.
If you want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics and SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, be sure to download a recording of our webinar!