Managing Design Variations in Windchill PDMLink 9.1

Andrew Burke of Medtronic has been involved with PTC product design, system administration and user support & training for over 15 years. In this user case senario Burke will show how Medtronic has developed some neat tricks to manage design variations in Windchill PDMLink 9.1.

At Medtronic, we “tightly” manage our Pro/ENGINEER data inside Windchill PDMLink and impose the following restrictions on the objects:

When an object is promoted to a Completed state, the design is locked down and cannot be checked out by anyone. A New Revision would need to be created to increment the Version, reset the State to In Workand allow this version to be Checked Out.

Figure 1

Once an object has been checked into Windchill PDMLink it cannot be deleted.

Figure 2

However, there are situations where you may want to change the design but do not want to Revise it. For example, I may want to experiment with several variations of the design, and then choose one to proceed with at a later time. There may not be a need to retain these unaccepted variations.

Figure 3

Or, maybe I want to do some “prework” on a hot ECO that is coming my way. But, there is the possibility that the ECO could be cancelled.

Figure 4

We have found a slick process that allows us to work a little “looser” with Windchill PDMLink. Even if your Windchill PDMLink system is setup differently, there are some nice techniques and functions described in this article that you will find a use for.

Flexibility with Windchill PDMLink

Let’s take a high level look at where we are going, and then watch a video demonstration:

1. Add the original design to your Workspace. This will place a copy of all the needed files in both Workspaces.

Figure 5

2. Make a copy of the top level drawing and assembly using the Save As function. What is cool here is that the system will automatically use the new assembly in the new drawing.

Figure 6

In the example above, the “_var1” text appended to the name of the objects indicated this is for “variation #1 of the design. Having a meaningful and consistent naming convention can be a big help in keeping track of these changes.

3. Make any changes to the assembly and drawing as needed. Since they are “new” objects, this is not restricting in any way.

4. Upload or check in as needed. This will ensure your work is safe in case of a catastrophic event such as a hard disk failure.

Remember, anything that was Uploaded only (not Checked In) will be removed from the SSWS if it deleted from the Local Workspace, so be careful when cleaning out your Workspace. If the design is Checked In it will allow the design to be shared with other Windchill PDMLink users and will not be deleted if the local versions are removed.

5. At a later time, it is determined that one of the components in the assembly needs to be changed in order to work properly in this variation. Use the Save As function again to copy the part and its drawing. A key step here is to use the optional functionality and automatically Use the Copy it in the assembly. This is a HUGE timesaver!

Figure 7

6. It is determined that another component needs to be changed. To show a more complex replacement scenario, imagine if this part were detailed on a sheet of the top-level assembly drawing. This can be handled easily during the Save As function. Very nice!

Figure 8

7. If another variation is needed, repeat steps 2-6. These steps can also be used to make a variation of a variation.

Figure 9

Integrating the Chosen Variation Back into the Original Design

After you have worked through the proposed changes, one of the design variations has been deemed acceptable and is ready to move forward. The challenge in Windchill PDMLink is to “rename” the chosen design variation back to the names of the original design.

1. Revise the objects of the original design that will be changing. This will increment the Version and set theState to In Work. The design can now be officially changed!

Figure 10

2. Export the entire design variation to disk.

3. Import those files back into an empty Workspace. During import, be sure to use the Add As New option for the files with “_var1” in the name. This will allow them to be renamed once they have been imported. All others models that were not changed can be set to Reuse Existing so the Commonspace version will be used.

Figure 11

4. Rename the “_var1” objects to their original names. You can use the Set Names function to automatically remove “_var1”.

Import Completed

Rename completed
Figure 12

5. You can now perform an Update, and use the Reuse option to pull down the latest metadata from the Commonspace and “reuse” your changed Pro/ENGINEER geometry.

Figure 13

6. Check Out the parts that have changed, Synchonize and Check In. You’re done!

Update Completed

Check Out & Synchronize Finished
Figure 14


As mentioned before, this exact scenario may not be applicable at your company, but it is a good example to take a closer look at the optional capabilities in the Save As function. Also, we were able to see how you have some control over how the system should handle imported files. Finally, the flexibility of the Updatefunctions makes you the Master of Your Domain.

Video Demonstration

Now that you understand the background and the high level process, let’s look at the details inside Windchill PDMLink on a sample set of data. Watch the Video.

Source: PTC Express

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