There is never a shortage of things to discuss with introducing a new major release of DriveWorks, and even minor releases, like DriveWorks 19 Service Pack 1, introducing a host of improvements. The new functionality has changed how we approach automation since several cornerstones of the DriveWorks’ methods are no longer static.

From the most basic perspective, the additional functionality within DriveWorks 19 allows you to implement model generation tasks, i.e., to perform additional steps within the model generation process, at new points in that model generation process. There are two reasons why this is so game changing.

Model Generation Sequence

The first reason is that these four new events in the model generation sequence allow you to change the environment right before DriveWorks begins the model generation and right after DriveWorks finishes the model generation. This means that aspects of the model generation process that were fixed, like the master model locations and the master models themselves, can now be manipulated dynamically.

The first model generation sequence step is Pre Copy. This means that we can pause the model generation and make changes to the environment in anticipation of DriveWorks making its copy of the master models. Up to this point, the master models and their path have always been static, fixed and stored in the DriveWorks group database. This break in the action allows us to dynamically place whatever files we feel necessary into the path of the oncoming model generation. This could allow us to dynamically load master models to support pulling files from a PDM system, determining physical locations for files on geographically distributed organizations, updating master models without having to recapture through a DriveWorks/SOLIDWORKS interface, or dynamically selecting from multiple master models.

Image: DriveWorks Generation Sequence

The Post Copy sequence allows you to access the environment once the master has been cloned, but before the assembly is opened in SOLIDWORKS. This allows you to further prepare the master or any supporting files, to modify global SOLIDWORKS settings, and prepare SOLIDWORKS for the model generation. Pre Copy and Post Copy tasks will also allow users to better handle model regeneration, as individual aspects of the generation can be managed, especially when PDM is involved.

Post Close allows you to continue to work with the model generation, once the files have been saved, additional file formats exported, and the files closed. This is the time when you know the files are completed and ready to go, but until this time, we have had to rely on secondary mechanisms, like triggered actions and Autopilot connectors, to further any processing. Now, we can have file management tasks, like copying the completed files, renaming, and working with PDM, triggered by the model generation itself.

Limit Number of Model Generation Tasks 

Which brings us to the second reason why this functionality is set to revolutionize DriveWorks. It is important to understand that you have a limited number of model generation tasks that can be implemented in the Pre Copy, Post Copy, and Post Close generation sequences. Any task that requires having a SOLIDWORKS document or SOLIDWORKS open would not be possible, because we cannot guarantee that those conditions will exist (in fact they will most certainly not exist in many cases). But what we do have, with Post Close, is access to two new model generation tasks, Invoke Operation, and Invoke Transition on Existing Specification.

One concept that has always been difficult for DriveWorks users to grasp has been the idea that model generation and specification processing are two completely separate environments that will not happen at the same time, will most likely happen on two separate machines, and cannot interact with one another. Those secondary mechanisms, like Triggered Actions and Autopilot Connectors, were used to monitor the environment to see when model generation would finish, so that it could trigger a specification processing event. Those mechanisms are no longer necessary, as model generations can now trigger those events directly.

It is important to note that model generation and specification processing are still two separate processes, but model generation now has the capability to be a lot more responsive. But it is up to you, the DriveWorks solution architect, to build that responsiveness into your implementations. Not only can model generation trigger specification operations and transitions, but additional power has been added to model generation conditions. This means that your model generation tasks can be used to validate your models, your model tasks, and any other conditions to ensure that what was supposed to happen really happened. You can ensure that what was supposed to be generated was generated and react accordingly.

The tools within DriveWorks 19 provide a lot more power and flexibility, but they don’t change the way that DriveWorks functions. These functionalities only change the way that DriveWorks can function if you choose to implement them. The hard line between model generation and specification processing now has holes where information and process lines can be passed through. Model generation can now be a