Overcoming Common Mistakes When Implementing Factory Design Workflows

10 October 2023Design, Manufacturingautocad, Autodesk Vault, Content, Factory Design, factory design utilities, information sharing, Inventor, Model, workflows

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Overcoming Common Mistakes When Implementing Factory Design Workflows

Not having a proper Inventor project file and not sharing data with team members are common mistakes made when implementing Factory Design Utilities. This makes it challenging to manage new content, edit existing content, and creates a situation where duplicate content is made by multiple team members.

When this is the way the group starts off, it creates a situation where you do not know what content to use when you do eventually start working with shared content. The issues involve what is the better content to use if there are duplicates, and members want to use the content they created because everyone thinks theirs is the best!

Not testing newly created assets in both Inventor and AutoCAD factory layouts is another mistake users make. Testing ensures that 2D and 3D asset components are accurate. Another issue caused by not testing is once you get bad data in the workflow, it is challenging to remove it.

Many times, people who work in Inventor use it with the default installation. This includes not realizing how important a company project file is and working in Inventor using the default project file, since that is the one activated during installation. This is not a good way to work in Inventor when you’re the only user. But having a group of users working out of the default project file compounds the issue to the point where it’s only a matter of time before things go wrong.

Utilizing Autodesk Vault would resolve most of these issues once properly set up, but you will still need to make the company project file and set all the shared links as well.

Typical installation has the Default.ipj activated

A typical installation has the Default project as the active project and the Inventor Electrical Project available in the list. After installing Inventor using all the default installation options, a generic project file called Default.ipj is active, and all the content is set to the user’s local addresses. These addresses point to the user’s documents folder and the public documents folder locations. If this is the situation, each user has important documents only on their machine that should be shared content.

The Default.ipj as the active project:

factory design projects menu

“C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor 2024” folders: 

factory design documents file folders

Content Center Files – default location: 

“C:\Users\User Folder\Documents\Inventor\ Content Center Files”

Setting up shared files and folders in a multiuser environment

It should go without saying that the items under the Folder Options in the project folder are some of the shared items, but many times this data is not shared. They are Templates, Design Data, and Content Center Files. With Factory, you also must consider how to manage the asset components, so everyone uses the same content and helps to avoid creating duplicate data. Another folder location that should be considered is a location for the original asset components prior to being published.

Consider how the multiuser environment is going to be set up – with one or two people as “Gate Keepers,” or will everyone in the group share in the creation and management of the custom company assets? Either way, there should be an Inventor Admin Project file that allows users to store newly created content and edit existing content if changes are required.

The Application Options can control the basic Inventor shared content, but the project file is where you set shared folders that store the models. Project files can control where some of the basic shared content is used in the group environment too. One option is to have a project that controls most of the shared data, and set the application options locations to shared locations for the remaining items. Another option is to have the project file identify only the component folders, and set the application options to control where the Templates, Design Data, Content Center Files, etc. are located.

Application options location for identifying shared content

Standard shared content location if you choose to use the Application Options.

File has the most locations: 

factory design Inventor application options

iFeatures tab is often overlooked: 

factory design Inventor options tabs

Project files can control some of the shared content found in Application Options

As mentioned earlier, Templates, Design Data, and Content Center Files can be controlled by the project file. One advantage of this is that it allows you to have multiple project files that change where this content is saved for the various customer projects you may need to work on. This helps if you do contract work. However, typically a company will have one project file, especially if Vault is being used.

Besides the typical workspace and frequently used subfolders, the project file can control where you store the company factory assets during the publish operation. If you set this to a library path, it will prevent users from accidentally modifying these assets. Additionally, you may want to have a Frequently Used Subfolder identified to store the original models the assets are created from.

Project file Locations that override the application options:

Note: The images below show the path going to the local “C:\” drive. In a shared environment, you would have this point to a server location or the Vault workspace.

factory design folder options

Factory Asset location for company assets: 

factory design project folders, libraries

Frequently Used Subfolder to store original asset models: 

factory design project folders, frequently used subfolders

To be successful using Factory Design Utilities, you must recognize and address the typical mistakes others have made before you. This will save time and frustration during your journey.

Having a project file well defined and pointing to company content that everyone can share is the first action you should take. This critical step will allow you to create, manage, and maintain the company assets you will need when creating the factory layout.

Another important step to take is testing every asset created to make sure it works as expected before allowing the group to use it. Once bad data gets into the mix it is very challenging to remove, so do your best not to allow this to happen.

Plan, test, and always double check!


If you’re interested in learning more about Factory Design Utilities or the Autodesk PDM Collection, contact Graitec Group today and talk to an industry expert.


 

 

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