Approaches to Consider for Your Organization’s Windchill Consolidation Project

This post comes from Fishbowl Solutions’ Senior Solutions Architect, Seth Richter.

More and more organizations need to merge multiple Windchill instances into a single Windchill instance after either acquiring another company or maybe had separate Windchill implementations based on old divisional borders. Whatever the situation, these organizations want to merge into a single Windchill instance to gain efficiencies and/or other benefits.

The first task for a company in this situation is to assemble the right team and develop the right plan. The team will need to understand the budget and begin to document key requirements and its implications. Will they hire an experienced partner like Fishbowl Solutions? If so, we recommend involving the partner early on in the process so they can help navigate the key decisions, avoid pitfalls and develop the best approach for success.

Once you start evaluating the technical process and tools to merge the Windchill instances, the most likely options are:

1. Manual Method

Moving data from one Windchill system to another manually is always an option. This method might be viable if there are small pockets of data to move in an ad-hoc manner. However, this method is extremely time consuming so proceed with caution…if you get halfway through and then move to a following method then you might have hurt the process rather than help it.

2. Third Party Tools (Fishbowl Solutions LinkExtract & LinkLoader tools)

This process can be a cost effective alternative, but it is not as robust as the Windchill Bulk Migrator so your requirements might dictate if this is viable or not.

3. PTC Windchill Bulk Migrator (WBM) tool

This is a powerful, complex tool that works great if you have an experienced team running it. Fishbowl prefers the PTC Windchill Bulk Migrator in many situations because it can complete large merge projects over a weekend and historical versions are also included in the process.

A recent Fishbowl project involved a billion-dollar manufacturing company who had acquired another business and needed to consolidate CAD data from one Windchill system into their own. The project had an aggressive timeline because it needed to be completed before the company’s seasonal rush (and also be prepared for an ERP integration). During the three-month project window, we kicked off the project, executed all of the test migrations and validations, scheduled a ‘go live’ date, and then completed the final production migration over a weekend. Users at the acquired company checked their data into their “old” Windchill system on a Friday and were able check their data out of the main corporate instance on Monday with zero engineer downtime.

Fishbowl Solutions’ PTC/PLM team has completed many Windchill merge projects such as this one. The unique advantage of working with Fishbowl is that we are  PTC Software Partners and Windchill programming experts. Often times, when other reseller/consulting partners get stuck waiting on PTC technical support, Fishbowl has been able to problem solve and keep projects on time and on budget.

If your organization is seeking to find an effective and efficient way to bulk load data from one Windchill system to another, our experts at Fishbowl Solutions are able to accomplish this on time and on budget. Urgency is a priority in these circumstances, and we want to ensure you’re able to make this transition process as hassle-free as possible with no downtime. Not sure which tool is the best fit for your Windchill migration project? Check out our website, click the “Contact Us” tab, or reach out to Rick Passolt in our business development department for more information or to request a demo.

Contact Us

Rick Passolt
Senior Account Executive
952.456.3418
mcadsales@fishbowlsolutions.com

Seth Richter is a Senior Solutions Architect 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.

Consider Your Options for SolidWorks to Windchill Data Migrations

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

Manual Migration

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!)

Automated Solution

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:

1. Discovery
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.

2. Validation
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.

3. Mapping
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

Manual Migration

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.

Automated Solution

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.

2. Mapping
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.

Contact Us

Rick Passolt
Senior Account Executive
952.465.3418
mcadsales@fishbowlsolutions.com

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.