We use a manual system where I work, and it has done everything we
need. We've never used a PDM system for SW, but I have used some
version control stuff for programming, so I'll try to give you some
pros/cons of our manual system. Also, practically all of our design is
on the assembly level with parts that are standard and don't change,
like piping and fittings. So revisions really only happen with
assemblies and drawings, not parts. Here is how we have stuff set up:
- We have all our SW part and assembly files on one network share, and
all drawings on another. They don't really have to be separated, but
it helps out some.
- In our mrp/erp database all our parts have a part number that looks
like 123-45678 (3 numbers, dash, 5 numbers). The first three numbers
generally tell what kind of part it is, and we refer to that as the
"class code". (800- is engines, 130- is pipe, etc,)
- On the parts and assembly drive, everything is stored underneath a
directory with the class code (first 3 digits of the part number). So
pipe is under a directory called "130". Some of the directories also
have a brief description after the number like "130 Pipe" or something
- The different class code directories are structured in one of two
ways depending on the type of part.
- The way we do stuff like pipe and beam that you have all sorts of
lengths is that each assembly actually gets its own SW part file for
each piece of pipe, so that way we only have the one configuration and
if we change the length of pipe it doesn't affect any other assemblies.
With parts like this, under the "130" directory, there are separate
directories for each part number of pipe, so you have a directory like
"130\12345" for pipes numbered "130-12345". In those directories we
have all the part files for all the different pipe named something like
"130-12345-00 (00003).sldprt". The 130-12345 is the part number, the
-00 is the revision, and the (00003) is just a counter because of all
the different files we end up creating.
- For other parts like pipe fittings where you don't have all different
lengths, all the parts are directly in the base class code directory,
so a part for a flange might be in directory "271" with a filename of
"271-12345-00". Once again, the part # is 271-12345 and the revision
- All the assemblies are stored in the same structure as the part
files. The drawings are in a similar structure, just on a different
- Whenever we rev an assembly/drawing, we just increment the rev number
on the file, so "330-12345-00.sldasm" becomes "330-12345-01.sldasm".
We leave the old file in place for history. Also, all the pipe and
other parts that we may change lengths on are also replaced with new
copies so we don't mess up the old rev. We have a program (which I
wrote) that does all this automatically.
That's the basic setup of our file system. We also have a little addin
that makes part lookup easy, so the drafters just have to type in a
part number and the program finds all associated
parts/assemblies/drawings and gives a preview of them. All of our
drafters work off of the network, which does slow some things down, but
it keeps all the files in one place. They can copy stuff to their
local hard drives, but they are expected to copy it back to the server
every day so it gets backed up. Most guys just work off the network,
as it's not too slow except for very large assemblies. We have a
gigabit network, and the files are all served off of a samba share in
linux, which we found to be faster than using a windows server on
similar hardware. Also, the way our work is structured, only one
person is on a certain project at a time, so there are rarely conflicts
where two people are trying to edit the same file at the same time.
The system has worked well for us, and has changed slightly over the
years of use, but not much (basically just some changes in how we used
pipe and beam and such). We have been using this system since being on
SW 98 or 98+, I'm not sure which (I wasn't here at the time we started
using SW, I came on board when we were on SW 99).
We like the system as we don't have to buy a pdm product. While we
don't have a history of small changes like you would with a pdm system,
we do make backups every night that are saved for a short while, and
some backups are saved permanently. So if someone messes up a file we
can go back to what it was at the end of yesterday, which has been good
enough for us. We have a fairly small drafting department, so I'm not
sure how things would work with lots more people.
I hope that helps you, and feel free to ask any more questions you may