Managing the flood of data
When designers first started using CAD, managing files was relatively easy. If you were good, you would store them in a nice folder structure, the filenames reflected the part (via numbers or names) and it would be an easy job to find the file you are after. As the number of designers increase, or are replaced, it becomes a much harder task to maintain the knowledge of where to find what you are after!
The same applies to CAD metadata. When you are flat out trying to get a design finished, the first thing to give is the completion of the file properties (metadata). Everyone knows that there is never enough time to come back and complete it later, as there is always another job just as important!
Many designers are now getting to the point of not knowing what they have done before and end up wasting valuable time re-designing parts that already exist or wasting just as much time trying to find the needle in a hay stack.
Data management tools have been around for many years, so why have designers not taken up the easier life and implemented it? Whether you adopt a simple data management solution such as the Solid Edge data management tools, which require very little set-up, or a bigger, more complete system, such as Teamcenter Rapid Start, that will not only manage your files and revisions, but also your change history, the same roadblock is still there - incomplete metadata!
How to Start?
To get the best out of any data management system, you need to have a good set of property data (metadata) to search on. Once this is set up, finding files becomes a much easier proposition.
The biggest problem, as stated earlier, is that there is never enough time to go through each individual file and manually update the required properties. If you are lucky, the file name stores part of what we need and the folder name gives a bit more of the information, and the rest can come from looking at the file, but this will take a lot of time to complete, so the final conclusion is that we know we need to, but it is just too hard, so in just keeps getting put off until tomorrow (which never comes)!
CAD Central have developed a tool that will help ease the pain and speed up this task of building a good set of metadata. Once the application is run, the list of files from a folder (and sub-folders, if selected) will be loaded into the form, along with any properties that have already been loaded into the CAD files. Files are then selected by file type, blank values in defined fields or by matching values.
Once the selection has been made, you can:
Add a default revision value
Extract the Document Number from the filename using a format string
Extract the Revision from the filename using a format string
Copy/switch values from one field to another
Split and copy values from one field to another
Copy folder names into a field (ie keywords) as comma separated values
Replace a text string contained in a value with a different value
Add a default value into a selected field
Copy properties from a parent part/assembly into the draft file fields
Manually add/edit values for any file.
Any changes that are made to the grid are colour coded to identify how the value was created. During this initial stage, values are only updated in the grid and not in the file, so you can revert back to the existing values at any time.
Once you are happy with the re-structured properties, the "process changes" button will update all of the file properties ready for use in Solid Edge data management indexes or completes most of the data preparation needed for importing files to Teamcenter Rapid Start.
Contact Alan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.