Yusuf, what does your company do?
We are into manufacturing of process equipment for food, pharma, chemical and agro-chemical, paints, inks and dyes. Some of our machines look just like a pump, but they have a rotary shearing blade and a stator. You can check them out at www.wahalengineers.com.
How many CAD engineers does your company have?
For now, we have two CAD users, myself included. One at factory and one at a branch office in another city.
What are your responsibilities?
I am responsible for
- redesign and development of existing machines
- plant layout GA`s
- new product development
- recreating 3D models and drawings from the existing legacy drawings
- integrating changes that might have been done by the production department.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you work?
I have about 12 years of work experience of which about 3 years I have worked as a QA engineer for SolidWorks and about 9 years as a Design Engineers in various industries ranging from sheet metal design to Oil and Gas equipment to process equipment.
You said that you have some standard machines...are these machines bought right off the shelf or are they configurable so that each customer can select which features they want to have included?
Some of the machines are readily available specially lab scale models, and some mid-range production machines and in few of the machines there are some variations in terms of filter size. In many cases there is some modification required as there is a vast application for these machines and the machine sizing is done based on the parameters like production capacity, the material properties processed by the machine, process time, process parameters, recipes, etc.
Do you use the same models (parts or assemblies) on different projects/products?
Yes, depending on the machine we reuse anywhere between 40 to 60% of the parts. There is also a Vendor Library and a separate library of hardware items like handles, knobs, latches, etc.
What does your CAD folder structure look like?
So, you store each project/product in a separate folder?
Yes. Since there is no PDM to manage the data, I make sure that each project is classified separately.
What do you mean by inputs and outputs?
Inputs are generally any data that I collect required for the design for the machine, for example, datasheets of components, hand sketches of the concept, client requirements, competitor datasheets, etc., and Output is the CAD files.
CUSTOM PROPERTIES AND TEMPLATES
Which custom properties do you use?
What's your title block like?
Which custom properties do you show on the parts list - BOM?
How do you number parts, assemblies and drawings?
We have some standard machines and also, we do custom turn-key projects where we use some of our standard machines and some machines where some modifications are required.
For our standard machine we have classified our machines based on the volume of the material that can processed. So, our document number scheme is:
E.g. For a Triple Shaft Mixer handling 100 Ltr Batch we number is as WE-100-TSM-GA-0, for the top-level assembly.
The same part number is reflected on the drawing template as Drawing Number.
If we are handling a custom project, we replace the Volume by a Job Number.
Ok, so the top level assembly is : WE-100-TSM-GA-0, how about parts and weldments of this assembly, how do you number them?
For parts we just replace the 3rd space by the part name initials.
INTERCHANGEABILITY AND REUSE OF MODELS
When you say you reuse 40-60% of the parts...do you keep the part numbers the same or do you copy them and save them under a new number?
Unless there is going to be a change in the part, we don't create a new part number or drawing.
You said that you keep each project in a separate folder but you also reuse parts of machines and keep the same part number. If I understand correctly this means that in such cases you copy the CAD file to another project folder but keep the drawing number the same?
At this stage, I am pretty much doing this case by case and also, it's pretty naive, but for now, I don't have many options.
- For instance, if I have the design ready for a 10HP model and I want to create a 20HP version I try to reuse as many components from the 10HP version, in this case since the machines are of the same type I don't change the drawing number.
- But if I know that I am making a 20HP model version or a completely different machine that will be based on the existing machine I prefer to rename the part files and the drawing number to avoid any accidental unwanted change.
Let's say you have two similar products 10HP and 20HP. You make a separate folder for each product but some components are used in both. Where do you store these (in the10HP or in the 20HP folder)?
It depends on the machines developed first. Sometimes we have to scale up and vice versa.
If you are using one part in different products (10HP and 20HP) and you need to make a change on that part but only for 10HP product, the part in the 20HP product must not change. How do you check where the part is being used, so you don't screw up the other products? I know I am being philosophical here, but this becomes a real problem if you don't use PDM and if you are dealing with big projects. With time one can easily forget that some parts are being used in multiple projects.
Actually, what you are saying is a real-life scenario and I have faced it in my previous company where we were using Routing. My team had AutoCad background and was new to parametric modelling. A lot of times my team mates would make changes to the library parts and later when older drawings were opened the parts or assemblies would be messed up.
In my current company I am the only user and I am super cautious with the standard library parts and parts used in multiple assemblies. If I have a doubt or want to check if the part might be used elsewhere, I check it through the SolidWorks Explorer. The "Where Used" tab gives the necessary information regarding the assemblies and drawings where the part is referenced.
When I am not sure of the changes that will have to be made, I use Pack and Go functionalities to rename the parts while copying them to another location.
Also, as a precaution I keep regular backup of the work done, just in case the data is lost or damaged.
I hope at some point PDM is implemented and a proper work flow is set.
Do you follow any interchangeability rules?
Yes, we do follow interchangeability rules, but maybe not in much detail.
Do you use configurations in SolidWorks to make different variants of a model? If so, how do you name (number) the configurations?
Yes, we use configurations and we name/number them depending on the parts its either on size, vendor part number, description or standard conventions.
Do you make revisions if there is a change on a model or a drawing that has been released? If so, what is your revision scheme?
Since we are a small group, we do not follow any particular revision scheme. Although I understand that it’s important to have revisions for parts and drawings, but the same is not followed here. In my previous company we used to follow the revisions for parts and drawings and the changes in each revision would be marked with a Revision cloud. We used to have numbers 0, 1, 2,…for minor Revisions at design stage and A, B, C,.. for major revisions at fabrication stage.
Ok, so you don't track your changes by revision. How do you act in case a change needs to be made after the files are released to production?
Well, that's the sad part of working in a small-scale company, there is no such thing as ECR. If for any reason there is a deviation during the production, they would just do it without any notification. Ever since I am working for this company, I have asked for a commented copy to be sent back to me in case if there is any change. If the change is temporary, we do not update the model, but in case if this is going to be repeated, I update the drawings and it becomes the new standard.
Another reason for not updating the revision is that sometimes we make drawings for R&D purpose and changes in the drawing are expected.
From your drawing I see that the first approved version is indicated as revision 0, am I correct?
Yes, but what intend to do is that once I get feedback from the production and the machines are manufactured, I will update these drawings, just an As-Built drawing, once this is done I will change the revision to "A", so that is it understood that these drawings are final and no further changes should be allowed. (But this again should be followed by the production team also.)
Based on the fact that two dislocated CAD engineers are working on the same projects I suppose, how do you transfer data? Do you have a common server or use some kind of cloud storage?
We do not use any cloud storage, but in case if I have to share my files, I would upload it on google drive. I have set up our machines with a similar folder structure and we try to follow the same. Also, the other person is not much involved in CAD activities and acts more like a coordinator between the design and production. He has joined us very recently.
Do you have your own manufacturing or do you outsource?
We have our own manufacturing.
What are the output files you usually generate for production? STEP, DXF, PDF?
It is in PDF format for most of the cases. DXF is rarely provided if there is a requirement.
Do you use macros or bulk processing tools?
No. I had downloaded #Task tool, but I didn't see much use of it in my day-to-day activities since I don't do any conversion or activities that I can schedule.
EDUCATION OF NEW CAD USERS
How do you teach new employees about your CAD standards?
Generally, it would be hands-on
Are you satisfied with your CAD standards? What would you do differently if you started from scratch?
For the kind of company and with the number of projects we handle I think we can cover all aspects of our day-to-day activities.
There is always room for more, like better part numbering schemes, data management, project management.
After working for many companies in the last 12 years I have realized that the psychology of the management towards the design data or department plays a very important role. And the design department should be a critical role player in the overall ecosystem.
We are just getting started with managing the data and creating awareness of its importance within the company. I have tried to implement some drawing numbering scheme and data management from the last 1 year of my service here.
You say that you have tried to implement some drawing numbering and data management in this company... What have you changed? How did it look before you came?
Prior to me there was no such thing as drawing number or project or data management. The folders had Job numbers or whatever the designer felt like naming them and there were no drawing numbers. This was mainly because most of the designs for the machines were outsourced and later tweaked inhouse based on the requirements from client or manufacturing.
I know that small companies don’t really care about revisions and new part numbers. The problem escalates when small companies grow bigger but still don’t care about revisions 😊. Because Yusuf is the only one responsible for CAD design, he keeps an eye on the changes that get made. This is how his company remains flexible. In case they decide to grow, I would advise them to emphasize the importance of interchangeability. As reference they could use our Online Interchangeability Checking Tool.
As Yusuf said, he checks with SW Explorer where a part is used, before he applies changes to it. This is very important if projects/products share common items. But as with a lot of other companies the numbering scheme they have (product info/project info included in the part number) it can be misleading for new engineers. Based on that, they could easily think that this part is only used on this project/product. Without proper training of new employees this process can result in chaos.
I would advise Yusuf to take a look at non-significant numbering schemes. The top product number can still remain the same, but other components (parts and subassemblies) could only be numbered by a non-significant six-digit scheme (for example: 102001, 102545, …). This way they could prevent the misinterpretation that a part is only used in the project that is included in its number.
One more thing that I have to point out here is, that Yusuf is keeping some kind of Revision indicator in the parts number. This is not the best approach according to Engineering Documentation Control best practices. But because Wahal Engineers is a small company, they can easily get away with this 😊.
I would like to thank Yusuf again for taking the time to share his system with me and the simpleCADstandards community! As a thank-you for his contribution he will receive a simpleCADstandards customized gift:
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