CADFIT’s Value to SolidWorks Users

The CADFIT tool for SolidWorks has just been released by Razorleaf for general use.  You can read the marketing blurb to see a list of features and benefits, as well as what past users have to say about the tool.  But what does CADFIT really do? How is it going to help your company design better products and get to market faster?  As with any data analysis tool, it depends on what you do with the results that really matters.  All the tools in the world won’t help you solve problems if you don’t review the information they give you, analyze it, and come up with a plan or process to solve the problems the tool has uncovered.  The standard CADFIT reports help users understand how their data is laid out, where the major problems are, and where the focus should be on fixing the issues.  Keep reading to learn about the four standard CADFIT reports, and how they can benefit your company with specific, actionable information.

Report #1 – “All Missing References”

This report contains a list of all parent files with missing children.  Specifically, the report notes that file Parent.sldasm has a missing child file Child01.sldprt and where Child01.sldprt is supposed to be located.  The typical scenario happens when parts are deleted, moved, or renamed, and the parent assembly is not aware of these changes (resulting in a broken file reference).  The next time the parent file is opened, SolidWorks will typically raise the message “Child01.sldprt could not be found, would you like to locate it manually?”  If you happen to be the person who moved, deleted, or renamed the file, then you might be able to remember where it is or recover it from your Recycle Bin.  If you don’t know how to recover the file (or if the file is unrecoverable), you could spend hours searching for, or recreating, data.

Report #2 – “Missing / Out Of Context Refs with Alternate Locations”

This report is similar to the first but contains additional information.  “Out of Context” (as defined by CADFIT) means that the child files were not found in the directory locations specified by their SolidWorks parent file.  The files that are “Out of Context” may very well be visible to CADFIT at run time; they just are not where they are supposed to be.  For example, there may be some files on the “H” drive that no one was aware of, so the “H” drive was not included in CADFIT input parameters. CADFIT reports will show the files were found, but were “Out of Context.”  This report shows children that are “Out of Context” or “Missing” as far as the parent file is concerned, but that may exist in alternate locations in the data set.  Next to the missing child part is a check box.  If the check box is checked, that means that CADFIT found the missing file in that location. This means the file does exist and the parent knows about it, but the file is outside the desired data set location.   If the checkbox is unchecked, that means that the file is missing (CADFIT could not find it because it was outside of CADFIT’s search area).

Report #3 – “All Duplicate Files”

This report details all of your duplicate files, divided into two categories.  Category one is when the file name is duplicated, but the content is different.  For instance, if you have two files, both called bracket.sldprt, you cannot at first glance tell if they are the same or different.  Using a Cryptographic Hash Function, the duplicate files are processed to determine if they are the same on a binary level.  An identical hash value means that the files are exactly the same and you have a true duplicate file.  Category two is for files that have the same name but different content (a different hash value).  Following through on the bracket example, one might be an “L” shaped bracket that is 2 inches by 3 inches.  Another bracket.sldprt might be an “T” bracket, and a third example could be a corner bracket.  All of them have the same bracket.sldprt file name but will have different hash values.  The “All Duplicate Files” CADFIT report will detail these two types of duplicates and the number and location of occurences so that you can find and resolve real (and potential) problems.

Report #4 – “File Volume and Distribution”

This report provides a file count by directory and by file extension.  It is useful in determining the demographics of your data set (where things are located, what type of data you create most often, etc.).  Many Razorleaf clients are interested to know what types of data are stored on Engineering servers and are surprised to find out how many Word, Excel, PDF, and other file types are stored there.  For some folks, this is very meaningful in the argument to get all product intellectual property (IP) under control in a robust PDM system (since a lot of IP is kept in files other than the CAD files).  You may also notice things like having 10,000 files in the fasteners directory.  This is meaningful when you realize that Windows has an unofficial limit of 1,000 files per folder before browsing performance takes a nose dive.

So those are the CADFIT standard reports, but how is this information going to help you design better products and get them to market faster?  Here is the breakdown of how CADFIT can help you do that:

  • The Missing References report will show engineers and designers what is missing and allow them to focus on finding the parts all at once rather than spending an hour here and an hour there (when they are critical path on a key project) hunting for missing parts and sub-assemblies.
  • The Missing / Out of Context report will show engineers and designers where the files think their children are and possible locations to where they might be so that they can hunt for their missing files before giving up and investing their time in re-modeling 3D content.
  • The Duplicates report will let engineers and designers eliminate “true” duplicate files so that everyone is working from a common part, thus saving time by not having to re-create these parts again and again.  It will also let users rename files (where the content is different but the names are the same), saving a very lengthy resolution process for complicated clashes when two very different looking bracket.sldprt files are used in different levels of the same assembly.
  • The File Distribution report displays the sheer number of files used/stored by the engineering and design teams, thus exposing the magnitude (cost) of errors and  problems uncovered by the first three reports. If even 1% of your files have problems, and you have 500,000 files, you could spend one man-year repairing your data set.  Right now these problems are just making projects late, and nobody knows why until they have concrete numbers describing the magnitude of the problem.  Remember, you can’t get to market faster until you know what is slowing you down today.

If all of this sounds like information you need, download Razorleaf’s CADFIT tool today and run the free summary report.  The summary report indicates whether you have a problem or not, and will justify whether you need to purchase the standard reports listed above.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 7:00 am and is filed under Computer Aided Design, Industry Insider, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.