Stephen Wierenga, Founder of SWYFT Solutions recently shared some of his experiences with trying to manage SOLIDWORKS data as a Small Businesses owner. Prior to founding SWYFT Solutions, Stephen started a small Contract Engineering firm and has used a variety of different solutions over the years.
When Stephen founded Perception Engineering on a card table in his basement, he was saving everything locally on his C:drive (yikes!) and then an external hard drive while trying to maintain file structures and revision control. This worked for a while as he was doing most of the work himself but once his hard drive started to fill up, he began looking for other options. Eventually, he purchased a NAS system, essentially an external hard drive that connects to Wi-Fi. Which worked okay while moving a small amount of data, but it was fairly slow, not very secure and eventually one of the hard drives on the NAS system failed. Luckily, there were two hard drives with the data mirrored but it was a wakeup call that this needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Additionally, the team was growing, and people were saving over each other’s files and running into issues with lost data. They really needed a way to check files in and out to eliminate the issues caused by multiple users working on the same files with no way to “lock” files when they were in use.
After exploring multiple options, Stephen decided it was time to implement SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and since the business had SOLIDWORKS Professional, it was already available to them. The software was the easy part, implementation proved to be more challenging. Perception Engineering invested approximately $10,000 on a server and brought an IT Consultant in to get the server up and running. In addition to those hard costs, the team invested over 160 hours into self-implementing PDM within the business. PDM is a very powerful tool, partially because of the customization which means there is a lot to set up with folder structures, users, and vaults.
There were some great improvements such as the ability to “rollback” files, not losing references, the ability to use data cards and improved file structure. There was also a great improvement in save time compared to the NAS system the team had been using.
Recently, Perception Engineering decided it was time to make the jump to 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS to try out the tools ENOVIA brings to the platform. This will allow their team to access their data from any device, anywhere. It also means all their data is saved securely on the cloud and they won’t have to panic every time the business loses power. Stephen shared that he has had instances where he has been out of town and had to call someone from their team to run to the office during a power outage so the server could be manually shut down before the backup battery ran out. It also allows the team to share files with others outside the organization with secure links to the data if they are also on the platform. They will be able to set the level of access that person has and even remove access to the data if needed. The seamless integration with SOLIDWORKS and data management tools were a big part of the decision, but they also see opportunities with the new browser-based CAD tools on the platform.
What worked well with SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard:
- Highly customizable
- SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard comes with SOLIDWORKS Professional
- Revision control & the security settings
- Ability to revert to an old version of a file
- Highly compatible with SOLIDWORKS
Challenges of SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard:
- Challenging implementation
- $15,000+ Investment in hardware, IT consulting & internal staff
- Check-in & Check-out function allows files to remain checked out, even after a user is done editing
Benefits of ENOVIA:
Low barrier to entry, minimal setup with no IT required
Secure, cloud-based storage
Seamlessly integrates with SOLIDWORKS, CATIA, DELMIA and SIMULIA
Additional connectors are available for Inventor, AutoCAD, Creo, Solid Edge and Altium Designer to allow all CAD tools to be on one data management platform
Data can be viewed from any device, anywhere
Ability to share secure links to data to retain control of that data and make sure the viewer sees the most up-to date-version, rather than sharing the actual files and losing that control (other user must also have access to the platform for this functionality)
Challenges with ENOVIA:
If you are already using PDM Pro, you may lose some customization options. ENOVIA is configurable but doesn’t have all the customization options found in SOLIDWORKS PDM Pro
You will need a stable internet connection
There is still an opportunity for files to remain checked-out once a user is done editing
Overall, the team is excited about the scalability of 3DEXPERIENCE and the flexibility it provides as they grow. The platform is much bigger than just ENOVIA or CAD and is bringing incredibly powerful tools within the reach of Small Businesses like Perception Engineering.