This post comes from Fishbowl Solutions’ Associate MCAD Consultant, Ben Sawyer.
CAD data migrations are most often seen as a huge burden. They can be lengthy, costly, messy, and a general road block to a successful project. Organizations planning on migrating SolidWorks data to PTC Windchill should consider their options when it comes to the process and tools they utilize to perform the bulk loading.
At Fishbowl Solutions, our belief is that the faster you can load all your data accurately into Windchill, the faster your company can implement critical PLM business processes and realize the results of such initiatives like a Faster NPI, Streamline Change & Configuration Management, Improved Quality, Etc.
There are two typical project scenarios we encounter with these kinds of data migration projects. SolidWorks data resides on a Network File System (NFS) or resides in either PDMWorks or EPDM.
The options for this process and the tools used will be dependent on other factors as well. The most common guiding factors to influence decisions are the quantity of data and the project completion date requirements. Here are typical project scenarios.
Scenario One: Files on a Network File System
There is always an option to manually migrate SolidWorks data into Windchill. However, if an organization has thousands of files from multiple products that need to be imported, this process can be extremely daunting. When loading manually, this process involves bringing files into the Windchill workspace, carefully resolving any missing dependents, errors, duplicates, setting destination folders, revisions, lifecycles and fixing bad metadata. (Those who have tried this approach with large data quantities in the past know the pain of which we are talking about!)
Years ago, Fishbowl developed its LinkLoader tool for SolidWorks as a viable solution to complete a Windchill bulk loading project with speed and accuracy.
Fishbowl’s LinkLoader solution follows a simple workflow to help identify data to be cleansed and mass loaded with accurate metadata. The steps are as follows:
In this initial stage, the user chooses the mass of SolidWorks data to be loaded into Windchill. Since Windchill doesn’t allow duplicate named CAD files in the system, the software quickly identifies these duplicate files. It is up to the user to resolve the duplicate files or remove them from the data loading set.
The validation stage will ensure files are retrievable, attributes/parameters are extracted (for use in later stages), and relationships with other SolidWorks files are examined. LinkLoader captures all actions. The end user will need to resolve any errors or remove the data from the loading set.
Moving toward the bulk loading stage, it is necessary to confirm and/or modify the attribute-mapping file as desired. The only required fields for mapping are lifecycle, revision/version, and the Windchill folder location. End users are able to leverage the attributes/parameter information from the validation as desired, or create their own ‘Instance Based Attribute’ list to map with the files.
4. Bulk Load
Once the mapping stage is completed, the loading process is ready. There is a progress indicator that displays the number of files completed and the percentage done. If there are errors with any files during the upload, it will document these in an ‘Error List Report’ and LinkLoader will simply move on to the next file.
Scenario Two: Files reside in PDMWorks or EPDM
There is also an option to do a manual data migration from one system to another if files reside in PDMWorks or EPDM. However, this process can also be tedious and drawn out as much, or perhaps even more than when the files are on a NFS.
Having files within PDMWorks or EPDM can make the migration process more straightforward and faster than the NFS projects. Fishbowl has created an automated solution tool that extracts the latest versions of each file from the legacy system and immediately prepares it for loading into Windchill. The steps are as follows:
1. Extraction (LinkExtract)
In this initial stage, Fishbowl uses its LinkExtract tool to pull the latest version of all SolidWorks files , determine references, and extract all the attributes for the files as defined in PDMWorks or EPDM.
Before loading the files, it is necessary to confirm and or modify the attribute mapping file as desired. Admins can fully leverage the attributes/parameter information from the Extraction step, or can start from scratch if they find it to be easier. Often the destination Windchill system will have different terminology or states and it is easy to remap those as needed in this step.
3. Bulk Load
Once the mapping stage is completed, the loading process is ready. There is a progress indicator that displays the number of files completed and the percentage done. If there are errors with any files during the upload, it will document these in the Error List Report and LinkLoader will move on to the next file.
Proven Successes with LinkLoader
Many of Fishbowl’s customers have purchased and successfully ran LinkLoader themselves with little to no assistance from Fishbowl. Other customers of ours have utilized our consulting services to complete the migration project on their behalf.
With Fishbowl’s methodology centered on “Customer First”, our focus and support continuously keeps our customers satisfied. This is the same commitment and expertise we will bring to any and every data migration project.
If your organization is looking to consolidate SolidWorks CAD data to Windchill in a timely and effective manner, regardless of the size and scale of the project, our experts at Fishbowl Solutions can get it done.
For example, Fishbowl partnered with a multi-billion dollar medical device company with a short time frame to migrate over 30,000 SolidWorks files from a legacy system into Windchill. Fishbowl’s expert team took initiative and planned the process to meet their tight industry regulations and finish on time and on budget. After the Fishbowl team executed test migrations, the actual production migration process only took a few hours, thus eliminating engineering downtime.
If your organization is seeking the right team and tools to complete a SolidWorks data migration to Windchill, reach out to us at Fishbowl Solutions.
If you’d like more information about Fishbowl’s LinkLoader tool or our other products and services for PTC Windchill and Creo, check out our website, click the “Contact Us” tab, or reach out to Rick Passolt in our business development department.
Senior Account Executive
Ben Sawyer is an Associate MCAD Consultant at Fishbowl Solutions. Fishbowl Solutions was founded in 1999. Their areas of expertise include Oracle WebCenter, PTC’s Product Development System (PDS), and enterprise search solutions using the Google Search Appliance. Check out our website to learn more about what we do.