Guide to Managing Manufacturing Content and Assets for Better Workflows

24 October 2023Digital Transformation, Manufacturingasset management, autocad, Autodesk Vault, Content, digital factory, factory, Factory Design, factory design utilities, Inventor, Templates, workflows

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For an introduction on manufacturing workflows, see this October 10 article by Todd Schmoock: “Overcoming common mistakes when implementing factory design workflows.”  

 

You have installed Factory Design, created a company Project file, and completed the proper training to understand how to use Factory Design correctly. Now you are concerned with managing your assets.

Creating an Inventor Administrator Project will help you manage the library locations. Having library locations identified in the company Project file keeps users from accidentally editing them, and the Administrator Project file will allow you to edit them by having them identified as Frequently Used Subfolders. Even if everyone in the group is allowed to edit assets, this will make the decision to activate the Administrator Project reduce the chances of accidentally editing them.

For companies that will only work in Inventor when using Factory Design, 2D content is not a concern. But those who work in both 2D and 3D need to make sure that the assets work in both environments. Creating your assets in Inventor will allow you to get the 2D layout automatically. There is a feature allowing you to identify an existing 2D DWG file when publishing the asset, letting you use that 2D asset in your layouts through the Factory Asset Browser.

Using as many factory assets out-of-the-box as possible will save you time, especially for content that meets typical industry standards. Even if it doesn’t look exactly like the equipment your company has, this content should be used first. Only create assets of items not found in the System Assets.

Creating templates for common assets used at your company can be a great strategy. Even creating templates from existing assets is possible, and this includes the assets shipped with Factory Design.

 

Managing 2D and 3D content and keeping it updated

Having an Admin Project file that has all original content in the workspace and subfolders (Frequently Used Subfolders) will allow you to modify the original content. This is especially helpful in the early stages where edits will be made more frequently. This will avoid having to make content over again from scratch and allow you to have an original baseline of the content if you need to republish an asset. Also, this is where you have to decide if there will be “Gate Keepers” who only have the Admin Project file, or if everyone in the group will be able to modify content.

When initially creating a factory layout, it’s easier to go from using one of the AutoCAD applications and pushing it to Inventor if both applications are needed. However, the initial creation of the asset is easier using Inventor, since you need the 3D component, and the 2D geometry will automatically be created when placed in AutoCAD. Having a well laid out folder structure and Inventor Project are keys to creating, managing, and updating the custom company assets.

 

Admin Project file with libraries set to Frequently Used Subfolders

Having an Admin Project file with the library folders listed under the “Frequently Used Subfolders” location allows users to edit the files located in them. As mentioned above, you need to decide who will be allowed to modify these files. Often there are people who do not have the time – or knowledge – to modify these files. So, having Gate Keepers can maintain the accuracy of these files. Then, others can use them and do not have access to modify this content.

Admin Project file example:

manufacturing managing content and assets menu

Notice no Libraries are defined:

manufacturing managing content and assets folders list

Manage the 2D content by creating the 3D component assets

Creating the assets using Inventor allows you to work in one software and have the 2D content automatically created when placed in an AutoCAD layout. It is very important to test all assets after the initial creation to ensure they work as expected. Once tested and published to the proper asset folder, the order in which you insert them does not matter.

Once the asset has been tested and published, you can place it using the AutoCAD-to-Inventor or Inventor-to-AutoCAD workflow. During the creation, testing the asset in a factory layout using the “Open in AutoCAD” and “Open in Inventor” tools will give you the confidence that both 2D and 3D results will be accurate. You do not want to get bad data in the workflow, since it is very challenging to remove bad data out of the workflows.

Inventor’s Asset ribbon:

manufacturing managing content and assets ribbon

Inventor’s “Open in AutoCAD” Factory ribbon tool: 

AutoCAD’s “Open in Inventor” Factory ribbon tool: 


Download the free resource “Improve Your Manufacturing Processes Using Autodesk Vault” today and start developing products faster through enhanced engineering productivity and digital prototyping.


Creating and managing assets

Make sure you have the project file set up correctly. Here is a list of guidelines to follow:

  • If you have a “Gate Keeper” in your group that is responsible for managing content, this person should have an Admin Project to allow them to manage files that others cannot see or edit. One example would be to access and modify library folders.
  • If all team members will have the ability to create and edit, then have this Admin Project file created and available to everyone.
  • Have a folder that stores the assets prior to publishing, so you can go back to the original file, make changes, and republish the asset.
  • Have a folder that stores your custom company assets.

Helpful tips for managing assets:

  • Use as much out-of-box (System Assets) content as you can.
  • Copy the most commonly used assets to the Favorites location so it is easier to select and use in the factory layout.
  • Create asset templates. This is especially helpful when creating chain assets.
  • Test all assets before making them available for the group to use or adding to any factory layout.

As mentioned throughout this document and described in the October 10 blog article, the Project file should be first on the list to get under control. Have the shared folder locations mapped to the Project file and application options, and make sure everyone is using it, so non-shared data is not created. Vault would make the management of the factory layout assemblies and content much easier. Vault makes it easier to share content, for management, and for sharing the project file.

Using the System Assets that are installed with the Factory Design Utilities will save a lot of time. This is especially true for content that meets typical industry standards. Again, even if it doesn’t look exactly like the equipment your company has, this content should be used first. Only create assets of items not found in the System Assets.

Copy commonly used assets to the Favorites location in the Asset Browser. Even this step can help you manage assets. Reviewing what comes in the System Assets and putting them into the Favorites will reduce the risk of creating assets you already have.

Creating asset starter templates can save a lot of time and frustration in the future. This is especially true for assets that are similar to each other. This will keep your models consistent from one to another, regardless of when they are created or who creates them. You can even make templates from the system assets by putting a copy of the asset in the folder identified in the project as the asset original models. This will avoid having to create the Landing Surface, Insertion Point, Connector Group, etc. every time you need to create an asset. Also, they can always be modified in the future. Mostly, it is keeping you consistent when creating assets, and you know these assets will work with less testing before adding to the Asset Browser.

 

Templates as an important strategy

When working in other software, users make templates regularly. Examples of this are when using text documents, databases, spreadsheets, etc. – so why not when working in Factory Design Utilities? Many times, people using standard Inventor make templates, but not when using Factory Design Utilities. However, when you do, don’t put the asset templates in the classic Templates folder identified in the Project file. Put these models in the Frequently Used Subfolder identified to store the original models the assets are created from, or another folder called Asset Templates.

System Assets that are installed:

manufacturing content and assets list

Asset Browser “Favorites” location:

manufacturing content and assets browser

Template can have Landing Surface, Insert Point, and Connectors: 

manufacturing content and assets features

 

To be successful with your factory design workflows, you must recognize and address the typical mistakes others have made before you. This will save time and frustration during your journey.

Having an Administrator Project file created for the team, or “Gate Keepers,” is an important step to managing factory design assets and keeping them updated. If you are planning to use 2D assets, planning how you will generate the 2D asset is important. This can be completed automatically by creating the Inventor asset first or adding the existing 2D DWG during publishing. Using the assets that are supplied with the install, when possible, will save time. In addition, making templates for the assets you will make multiple versions of will save considerable time and frustration.

Remember: plan, test, and always double check!


If you’re interested in learning more about better workflows using Factory Design Utilities, Inventor or Vault, contact Graitec Group today and talk to an industry expert.


 

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