PDM and vendor access

We do 90+% of our own manufacturing to maintain quality control. With the recent advances in certain technologies ( specifically laser cutters )
and the resultant design freedom they give us, we have begun to have more and more parts made by outside vendors due to the fact that we don't do enough of a type of manufacture to warrent the capital equipment investment.
Generally I provide our vendors with a .pdf of the completed part with inspection dimensioning, and a .dxf of the 2D portions ( ie. the flat condition of a bent sheet metal part ).
Recently, we used vendor A to do the prototype and pre-production run of a particular part. When it came time to order an actual production quantity, their laser was in the process of being switched out for a new one. We sent the order to one of our other vendors (B), and continued getting this part from them for the remainder of the season. As the new season began, we ordered the same part from our normal vendor (A). Between them having done our pre-production work and their first production order, a change was made to the parts design. That resulted in us paying for several hundred parts that are not useable as vendor (A) was not informed of the revision.
I would like to set up a permanent passworded ftp site to which our vendors have access and can verify revision status prior to a production run.
Is there a way to have PDM automatically generate the pdf and dxf files and place them into the ftp folder as parts are checked into the vault?
Does anyone have any alternate suggestions for a solution? I realize that this would not have happened if I had been showing due diligance and informed all vendors of the change when it was finalized. 99% of the time, that is the case. But sometimes its easy to forget things especially when you are swamped. An automated/semi-automated solution would go a long way to prevent human ( my ) error.
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Brian Hokanson
Starting Line Products
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Brian wrote:

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Brian,
I don't use PDM, so I can't comment on that. However I do something very similar to what you are wanting to do.
After every change, I manually create a PDF drawing. I then use WS_FTP Pro to update our ftp site. It does this completely automatically every night. Customers and vendors have access to this ftp site to verify revision status.
The only non-automated procedure is creating the PDF files. But I just recently evaluated a new piece of software the can make this totally automated as well. It is called SolidReflections at http://www.software-solutions.com /. It is not completely finished software, but its close. When I evaluated it, there were no instructions yet so it was difficult to figure out. But once I figured it out, it seemed to work pretty good. One thing that the author told me (which I wouldn't have figured out on my own) was it works best running on a stand-alone system. Quote "A consideration could be made to set up a dedicated computer that runs SolidReflection all the time. We have used this method in an environment where there are several designers working, and have been able to produce near real time results (after the initial database buil-up stage)".
Basically what it does is monitor folders that you define. When a drawing is saved, it will automatically open up the drawing and saves it as a PDF and/or DXF with the current date/time included in the filename.
Hope this helps.
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Seth Renigar
Emerald Tool and Mold Inc.
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All you need to do is put the rev # in the file names and the PO.
If your PO says p/n xxxx Rev6, and they use the DXF file named p/n xxxx Rev5, then the problem is pretty clear.
While an ftp site might be nice, it isn't really going to address the problem--it isn't reasonable to expect the vendor to know what rev is most current, you just need to order the rev that you actually want, and make sure that there's a one-to-one linkage between the dxf, drawing, and rev #

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Thanks for the suggestions. The sofware-solutions thing looks extremely interesting. Yes, we should be ordering by rev# also. I am new to the whole data management scene and am still learning. Mostly by costly mistakes.
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Brian Hokanson
Starting Line Products
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I would agree it's not really up to the vendor to be checking what they should make.
With any revision you make, you (your company) should be internally reviewing the ramifications of that change.
If you're small, this could be just you. If you're large, this could be you, the purchasing person, the engineering manager, etc. etc.
Unless you're very intimately involved with the shop, I doubt they'd want to double check every time. What if you changed the part at noon and they started making the older rev at 9am? Then who's fault is it?
In my experience, you call the shop, "hey, could I make this change..." on a good day, they say, "no problem man". On a bad day, they say, "we already did the programming, if you want to change it, it's going to cost you..." which is perfectly reasonable.
Yes, Revision control is just a barrel of fun, isn't it?
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