What's new
What's new

Solidworks workstations and PDM stability running with a vault on a file server

serview

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 14, 2012
Location
NJ
Hi Folks,
I am a small business owner running 2 seats of Solidworks with licenses resident on each workstation. We also use CAMWORKS and we produce code for 2 CNC mills (1 old Haas, 1 new Doosan/Fanuc).
We run PDM for workgroups from Solidworks on a DELL server onsite for storage of all our design CAD/CAM/CNC files (in a PDM vault storage using Microsoft SQL database storage)
The files need to be checked out from the server to use on the local machine so this gives version control, plus the speed of running files locally from solid state hard disks.

We drank all the Solidworks Koolaid and invested in the full architecture recommended by the SW reseller. We keep the server and workstations up to date, and use all Solidworks approved hardware, but still see occasional problems and it stops us in our tracks.

We have some outside IT support, and we rely on our SW reseller for PDM support
so after things were finally setup, it runs pretty well. We are more tech savvy now as we are involved in the server builds, workstation software load and each fix from the reseller when problems happen.

But it seems like windows update can disturb things and we need to fix changes to firewall settings, and local files such as host tables etc, so we get downtime a bit too often. Last night we had an extended power outage, so even with a UPS for every machine and soft shutdowns the restart can be tricky. Today we rebooted the server, then the workstations and guess what.... no file connection the vault. We did get this sorted out but it took hours and sometimes it can be really inconvenient if clients are waiting.

When this happens it is full stop as we cant open Solidworks files from the vault
Just rebooting the server and workstations takes quite a while. there are services that need to restart and on one machine it seems like it takes a 15-30 minutes for PDM related services to start. When we have to replan our day because we cant open files this is not fun.

So since we are small, and make no parts or new designs when problems happen this stops our business. We do get this sorted out, and have not had any data loss (thankfully!)

I am wondering what other peoples experience may be.
I know everyone's scenario is different as far as network, server and workstation configurations but how often do you find Software/hardware/Server/PDM, firewall and other IT issues stops your business from being productive?

We do run antivirus and firewalls, and local and cloud backup too, so I am not talking about malware but simply stability in general.

I find it aggravating to be behind schedule on making parts and then cant open files, even if this only happens once in a while.

We prefer to avoid cloud based CAD, but have to admit Onshape is appealing if the stability is there. I did talk to them and one interesting point is multiple users can work on an assembly at a time. They can do this as it was designed to allow multiuser access to assemblies, and because the saves of changes are so fast, multiple users can access a single file at the same time without issues.(similar to how google docs works)
If we tried a cloud based CAD system, we probably would need to run both Solidworks as well, as we are so deep with it, but if a more stabile system was available, we would be open to trying new things. We tried fusion but didnt get far with it.

My question is: How much downtime do most people see due to CAD/CAM or PDM instability?
What are your environments and configurations, and what causes problems for you?
It is disruptive when it happens and reseller response time can take a day or more.
Usually it is less, and you cant blame the person trying to help you, so it is a trying experience.
I feel our best bet is to invest in current software/hardware so that is what we do.
What do you do? Just curious for peoples experiences.

What are your experiences in using Solidworks (or your CAD) as far as stability?
What do you find makes it better or worse?
For people who work in a smaller company on local files - how often do you find the system is down or crashes?
For people who work with file servers in bigger companies, how often do you find the system is down or crashes?

Thanks!
Steve
 

Shawnrs

Stainless
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Hi Folks,
I am a small business owner running 2 seats of Solidworks with licenses resident on each workstation. We also use CAMWORKS and we produce code for 2 CNC mills (1 old Haas, 1 new Doosan/Fanuc).
We run PDM for workgroups from Solidworks on a DELL server onsite for storage of all our design CAD/CAM/CNC files (in a PDM vault storage using Microsoft SQL database storage)
The files need to be checked out from the server to use on the local machine so this gives version control, plus the speed of running files locally from solid state hard disks.

We drank all the Solidworks Koolaid and invested in the full architecture recommended by the SW reseller. We keep the server and workstations up to date, and use all Solidworks approved hardware, but still see occasional problems and it stops us in our tracks.

We have some outside IT support, and we rely on our SW reseller for PDM support
so after things were finally setup, it runs pretty well. We are more tech savvy now as we are involved in the server builds, workstation software load and each fix from the reseller when problems happen.

But it seems like windows update can disturb things and we need to fix changes to firewall settings, and local files such as host tables etc, so we get downtime a bit too often. Last night we had an extended power outage, so even with a UPS for every machine and soft shutdowns the restart can be tricky. Today we rebooted the server, then the workstations and guess what.... no file connection the vault. We did get this sorted out but it took hours and sometimes it can be really inconvenient if clients are waiting.

When this happens it is full stop as we cant open Solidworks files from the vault
Just rebooting the server and workstations takes quite a while. there are services that need to restart and on one machine it seems like it takes a 15-30 minutes for PDM related services to start. When we have to replan our day because we cant open files this is not fun.

So since we are small, and make no parts or new designs when problems happen this stops our business. We do get this sorted out, and have not had any data loss (thankfully!)

I am wondering what other peoples experience may be.
I know everyone's scenario is different as far as network, server and workstation configurations but how often do you find Software/hardware/Server/PDM, firewall and other IT issues stops your business from being productive?

We do run antivirus and firewalls, and local and cloud backup too, so I am not talking about malware but simply stability in general.

I find it aggravating to be behind schedule on making parts and then cant open files, even if this only happens once in a while.

We prefer to avoid cloud based CAD, but have to admit Onshape is appealing if the stability is there. I did talk to them and one interesting point is multiple users can work on an assembly at a time. They can do this as it was designed to allow multiuser access to assemblies, and because the saves of changes are so fast, multiple users can access a single file at the same time without issues.(similar to how google docs works)
If we tried a cloud based CAD system, we probably would need to run both Solidworks as well, as we are so deep with it, but if a more stabile system was available, we would be open to trying new things. We tried fusion but didnt get far with it.

My question is: How much downtime do most people see due to CAD/CAM or PDM instability?
What are your environments and configurations, and what causes problems for you?
It is disruptive when it happens and reseller response time can take a day or more.
Usually it is less, and you cant blame the person trying to help you, so it is a trying experience.
I feel our best bet is to invest in current software/hardware so that is what we do.
What do you do? Just curious for peoples experiences.

What are your experiences in using Solidworks (or your CAD) as far as stability?
What do you find makes it better or worse?
For people who work in a smaller company on local files - how often do you find the system is down or crashes?
For people who work with file servers in bigger companies, how often do you find the system is down or crashes?

Thanks!
Steve

Oh I can feel your pain using this system. As a programmer our designers store files in the vault and give me read access to their files. I can program them but I store my programs outside the vault for the reasons you just mentioned. When I program parts I get the files from PDM and save them to our network and break the links from PDM. Usually I save the parts as XYZ123-REV1. When I break the link the designers can make what ever changes they want and it won't destroy my toolpath I created. When there is a new revision I then copy the new rev and past it on top of my original model and update it. The reason for this is our designers do not understand what some of their changes they make can do to an existing part model with toolpath. I have had guys delete the original model and re-draw a new one up from scratch. They sometimes remove features and draw new ones in which pretty much destroys all the toolpaths I created.

The only way to make every thing work though the vault is have your programmer design and program all models because he or she will understand how to modify models correctly that will update your toolpath. As for the network ours is stable but we have probably 30-50 people involved with creating and modifying models inside PDM works with experience of 10+ years to interns learning our processes. One more thing, when I save files outside of PDM works, when that goes down I am not down from it but wont have access to updates.
 

BugRobotics

Stainless
Joined
Jun 22, 2015
Location
Denver, CO
I can't speak to PDM because I messed with it years ago and thought the stability was laughable so I avoid it like the plague.


With respect to your hardware...
- Fast SSD (Samsung 860 evo here)
- Use NVIDIA graphic cards (Quadro P2000 here)
- Fastest single core speed possible for modeling (overclocked and water-cooled i9 at 5.1 GHz)
- Lots of cores for rendering
- as much fast memory as possible (128GB)


Even with all of this awesome gear your stability can still be crap without proper modeling techniques, correct version of drivers AND Solidworks version. Yea, you read that correctly...all versions of Solidworks are not created equal. I run 2017 SP5 because it is the most stable version (up to 2019 SP2) that I've used in th last 12 years. I've heard some good things about 2020s versions and will give it a go soon.

Hope that helps. Feel free to reach out if you'd like any help. I've been building SW rigs for about 10 years now and have a fast stable setup.
 

serview

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 14, 2012
Location
NJ
Hi Shawn,
Thanks for your comment, I appreciate getting your feedback and perspective and it is interesting as I don't usually get to see how larger CAD/CAM/CNC groups operate.
We interact with larger groups at some clients but on a fairly limited basis (not with admins), so anything we can learn on how bigger groups work always helps us as a smaller engineering company.

I can see in our smaller shop where we have full control of model to the machine GCODE we can make iterations/improvements that your workflow would not allow (currently) for the reasons you describe.

We are more of a design shop with prototype or small production runs (not a job shop focus) so we need to be able to revise models and maintain the associativity from the model to the GCODE, and have part/model changes roll through to the GCODE with a refresh in the CAM software. This was my goal to achieve this in our system and we do have the capability. It would be so depressing to have to redo the CAM from scratch for a model change. Perhaps for a stable product family at a large company this would be more tolerable. We find it is hard enough to keep errors out of the programs, and adding extra steps doing things from scratch would be error prone and inefficient in time.

I can see your method would have lots of orphan files outside the vault, and possible revision control would be a challenge or impossible to a degree.
Not a knock on you, and the system may work better than I expect, but I would think it would be hard to be ISO certified or have certainty in files and gcode when it runs. So yes I do feel your pain! I can imagine this is really cumbersome and now I am wondering how it can be fixed!

I understand your point that model changes can trash your CAM features/toolpaths etc.
We have learned how to keep the model features and toolpaths intact during design changes so you can rev the model and refresh the CAM to get updated toolpaths (usually!). This is a big part of our open items to improve is how to handle orphan toolpaths if model features are deleted or changed significantly.
The cryptic error messages and way to work through this when it happens could be the subject of a training course.
We end up deleting tool paths sometimes when things get messed up from design changes, but we almost never have to start the CAM from scratch for design changes.
I know you didn't set it up, but is sounds like your company workflow does not help your productivity and you lose a lot of benefits in making changes, improvements.

What kind of CAM are you using?
I use CAMWORKS as this seems to me to be a package that would be well supported into the future as SW has embedded the software into Solidworks (free included)
The downside is the free/included version does not support assemblies so we upgraded to full CAMWORKS that does support assemblies (part/vise etc) and also are using Volumill (nice adaptive toolpaths in 2D, and we recently added 3D volumill)
For CAMWORKS the CAM toolpaths/operations are embedded in the assembly file, which in your case is locked until you rev the name (as you indicate)


For your issue, do you think it would help to be able to different types of locks on the files?
What if Solidworks locked the feature tree of the model when you checked out the model to prorgram the CAM, and allowed you to add/delete/modify CAM tools, and then lock pass the CAM file back?
When design changes were made in the model the CAM would be locked to the part/model design but they could make feature changes. THey would complete model changes, then check the file back to the vault. When you get the file back again (with a locked feature tree but unlocked CAM) you could refresh the CAM then keep programming the CAM.

It sounds like they need locking at the part level to prevent CAM programmers from revising the model, and locking on the CAM level for you as a CAM programmer when you pass the file back. It would also help if the designer got an error before features were removed/changed that would affect the CAM toolpaths. I will ask our Solidworks/CAMworks reseller about this.
We also went with CAMWORKS because our tech support for Solidworks/CAMWorks is the same reseller (different people but the have about 30+ tech support specialists)

As an aside - I spoke with my brother about version control and CNC Gcode files, he works at an aerospace shop and he said they had a GCODE program file for a particular part left in the controller that was old, a design change (oil port) was added to a bearing and the operator ran the old file resident in the CNC that did not have the feature. They found the problem, but this forced changes in the workflow because such things must be prevented. Inspection QA found the issue before parts shipped but not a good thing to happen, and if it happens once it will happen again until the workflow is corrected. They have hundreds of CNC machines of a range of brand and types of processes so this is an important thing to address for them, and I believe they did it. I did get a tour and soaked up as much as I could(happens for family members only once every few years) so I will have to ask them what systems they implemented to fix it. (just shop talk, nothing top secret of course)

Shawn - Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it.
I will let you know what our reseller says about the method you guys are using, and what can be done in Solidworks/Camworks/PDM, and think it would apply if you are using Mastercam or other CAM that keeps data in the Solidworks files. I am interested in other higher end CAD/CAM and file storage systems and if they can get around this. Perhaps ESPRIT,CATIA, NX, CREO/windchill etc have better/more granular control on the locking methods that would help your team, but changing the whole system may be impossible. Maybe it is implemention of PDM and Solidworks and your CAM system that could be improved. I wonder if a Macro could be used to lock/unlock the feature tree in SW, and also unlock/lock the CAM tree in the CAM Tab?

The payoff to make it better would be worth any investment, but getting your management to allow it to be fixed is another question. We are trying to to figure out best practices. Getting your feedback on PM is much appreciated - THANKS!

-Steve
 

boosted

Stainless
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Location
Portland, OR
We're in a similar capacity for size/workflow. 3 seats of Solidworks, which we use for importing models and building setups prior to export to hyperMILL for CAM programming.

I'm like Bug though, I saw the PDM and was largely unimpressed. We just run everything through a Windows server. Nothing is done locally, it's all on the server. It's pretty solid. We backup to the cloud for some redundancy, but haven't had to use it for the ~2 years that the server has been active.
 

Shawnrs

Stainless
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Hi Shawn,
Thanks for your comment, I appreciate getting your feedback and perspective and it is interesting as I don't usually get to see how larger CAD/CAM/CNC groups operate.
We interact with larger groups at some clients but on a fairly limited basis (not with admins), so anything we can learn on how bigger groups work always helps us as a smaller engineering company.

I can see in our smaller shop where we have full control of model to the machine GCODE we can make iterations/improvements that your workflow would not allow (currently) for the reasons you describe.

We are more of a design shop with prototype or small production runs (not a job shop focus) so we need to be able to revise models and maintain the associativity from the model to the GCODE, and have part/model changes roll through to the GCODE with a refresh in the CAM software. This was my goal to achieve this in our system and we do have the capability. It would be so depressing to have to redo the CAM from scratch for a model change. Perhaps for a stable product family at a large company this would be more tolerable. We find it is hard enough to keep errors out of the programs, and adding extra steps doing things from scratch would be error prone and inefficient in time.

I can see your method would have lots of orphan files outside the vault, and possible revision control would be a challenge or impossible to a degree.
Not a knock on you, and the system may work better than I expect, but I would think it would be hard to be ISO certified or have certainty in files and gcode when it runs. So yes I do feel your pain! I can imagine this is really cumbersome and now I am wondering how it can be fixed!

I understand your point that model changes can trash your CAM features/toolpaths etc.
We have learned how to keep the model features and toolpaths intact during design changes so you can rev the model and refresh the CAM to get updated toolpaths (usually!). This is a big part of our open items to improve is how to handle orphan toolpaths if model features are deleted or changed significantly.
The cryptic error messages and way to work through this when it happens could be the subject of a training course.
We end up deleting tool paths sometimes when things get messed up from design changes, but we almost never have to start the CAM from scratch for design changes.
I know you didn't set it up, but is sounds like your company workflow does not help your productivity and you lose a lot of benefits in making changes, improvements.

What kind of CAM are you using?
I use CAMWORKS as this seems to me to be a package that would be well supported into the future as SW has embedded the software into Solidworks (free included)
The downside is the free/included version does not support assemblies so we upgraded to full CAMWORKS that does support assemblies (part/vise etc) and also are using Volumill (nice adaptive toolpaths in 2D, and we recently added 3D volumill)
For CAMWORKS the CAM toolpaths/operations are embedded in the assembly file, which in your case is locked until you rev the name (as you indicate)


For your issue, do you think it would help to be able to different types of locks on the files?
What if Solidworks locked the feature tree of the model when you checked out the model to prorgram the CAM, and allowed you to add/delete/modify CAM tools, and then lock pass the CAM file back?
When design changes were made in the model the CAM would be locked to the part/model design but they could make feature changes. THey would complete model changes, then check the file back to the vault. When you get the file back again (with a locked feature tree but unlocked CAM) you could refresh the CAM then keep programming the CAM.

It sounds like they need locking at the part level to prevent CAM programmers from revising the model, and locking on the CAM level for you as a CAM programmer when you pass the file back. It would also help if the designer got an error before features were removed/changed that would affect the CAM toolpaths. I will ask our Solidworks/CAMworks reseller about this.
We also went with CAMWORKS because our tech support for Solidworks/CAMWorks is the same reseller (different people but the have about 30+ tech support specialists)

As an aside - I spoke with my brother about version control and CNC Gcode files, he works at an aerospace shop and he said they had a GCODE program file for a particular part left in the controller that was old, a design change (oil port) was added to a bearing and the operator ran the old file resident in the CNC that did not have the feature. They found the problem, but this forced changes in the workflow because such things must be prevented. Inspection QA found the issue before parts shipped but not a good thing to happen, and if it happens once it will happen again until the workflow is corrected. They have hundreds of CNC machines of a range of brand and types of processes so this is an important thing to address for them, and I believe they did it. I did get a tour and soaked up as much as I could(happens for family members only once every few years) so I will have to ask them what systems they implemented to fix it. (just shop talk, nothing top secret of course)

Shawn - Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it.
I will let you know what our reseller says about the method you guys are using, and what can be done in Solidworks/Camworks/PDM, and think it would apply if you are using Mastercam or other CAM that keeps data in the Solidworks files. I am interested in other higher end CAD/CAM and file storage systems and if they can get around this. Perhaps ESPRIT,CATIA, NX, CREO/windchill etc have better/more granular control on the locking methods that would help your team, but changing the whole system may be impossible. Maybe it is implemention of PDM and Solidworks and your CAM system that could be improved. I wonder if a Macro could be used to lock/unlock the feature tree in SW, and also unlock/lock the CAM tree in the CAM Tab?

The payoff to make it better would be worth any investment, but getting your management to allow it to be fixed is another question. We are trying to to figure out best practices. Getting your feedback on PM is much appreciated - THANKS!

-Steve

Steve

Been using camworks for the last 14 years. I have no problem with it yet sometimes there are glitches that suck but all software packages have their glitches. Most of the time I am one version back so we don't rush into the new version that has bugs in it. I program about 90 percent of our milling jobs with CW. I also design most of our fixtures in the shop and a lot of time is modify some of the existing fixture plates from previous jobs to make new fixtures. I also have a few family of parts where I have applied toolpath to the job and all I have to do is change the length of a part and regenerate the program and it is done.


Today I tried opening up a program I made back in April 2019 and our lovely designers moved the file I programmed. My toolpath pretty much disappears and I can't find where they moved the file. This is another reason I break the links from PDM works.


As for using PDM works I never check the parts out but I can use them as read only and program them. Even if I checked them out and back in our designers would find a way to mess them up. In some cases you have 2 or 3 designers working on an assembly and they sometimes make copies of files and then they are done with their changes they will override the original one with the updated one. This creates a mess but sometimes the designers are in such a crunch for time they have to work outside of the normal rules to complete a task.
 

serview

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 14, 2012
Location
NJ
I can't speak to PDM because I messed with it years ago and thought the stability was laughable so I avoid it like the plague.


With respect to your hardware...
- Fast SSD (Samsung 860 evo here)
- Use NVIDIA graphic cards (Quadro P2000 here)
- Fastest single core speed possible for modeling (overclocked and water-cooled i9 at 5.1 GHz)
- Lots of cores for rendering
- as much fast memory as possible (128GB)


Even with all of this awesome gear your stability can still be crap without proper modeling techniques, correct version of drivers AND Solidworks version. Yea, you read that correctly...all versions of Solidworks are not created equal. I run 2017 SP5 because it is the most stable version (up to 2019 SP2) that I've used in th last 12 years. I've heard some good things about 2020s versions and will give it a go soon.

Hope that helps. Feel free to reach out if you'd like any help. I've been building SW rigs for about 10 years now and have a fast stable setup.
--------------
Hi Bug,
Thanks I will check in with you in a PM as well, I appreciate your feedback. I follow your comments closely in general, and checked out your website and appreciate your work, so your opinion is well received, and I am glad to get your opinions and benefit from your experience.

I agree with your hardware assessment and selection and I use the same basic config except NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 and 64GB memory
I never see the full memory used up with the size of models I use, but I do see warnings from SW resource monitor related to open document capacity after using the system for about 8 hours, or across multiple days. If I dont save/close open files, close SW and reopen, it will crash about 10 minutes after the warning. If I close SW and reopen it is fine again for a long time. This seems like a memory (or resource) leak, so I have a workaround (pay attention to the warning! and reboot SW). It does not seem like more RAM will help as I saw this with other systems with much less memory and still see it now. I would add 64GB more but I am not sure it would be used.

I do think it makes sense to pick a version and stay with it, and to target Service packs later in the version life cycle (SP5 sounds great)

I agree with your comments on proper modeling techniques, and correct version of graphics drivers
I am guilty of sometimes leaving mate errors in my models, and I have seen eliminating all mate errors solve some problems on occasion.

As far as all versions of Solidworks not being created equal, I suppose I think the best bet is newer versions (in general) as stability should increase over time with the latest version (you would hope, but I understand you have other data and experience)
Since SW is a multibillion dollar company, we do expect they place a premium on improving stability in new releases, but I am bringing these questions up here so users can comment on real world experience.
Our experience is the same are yours in that once a version is proven stable, it is good not to change it, but we need to keep upgrading so we can open current files from other parties. I have decided to trust SW and always upgrade to each years version, ideally after SP2 or so.
If we can do the upgrade once and go right to SP4 or SP5 even better.

It would be good to have a place to check other peoples view of a particular release or SP
We tend to follow our resellers recommendation as to which SP is stable, I do agree some SP's and versions were not so stable, so a new SP usually follows quickly

We currently run SW 2020 SP4, it does have a tool to view crashes over time to see how stable it really is. I think the current machine I am using is the most stable so far. I think this version crashes less than previous versions we have used. PDM is stable for weeks at a time in general (or sometimes much longer)
I feel like sometimes they deny problems or that a SP is unstable , and then tout that new service packs fix the instabilities, but they are not the only company that does this.
I do agree it makes sense to stay with a stable version, but we interact with other groups and usually need the current years solidworks.
We used to keep multiple versions on our systems, but have stopped doing this with SW2020.
We saw the biggest change in stability going from 32 bit to 64 bit but this was years ago now. (64 bit especially importing larger STEP files, or dealing with larger assemblies)
We find later service packs are more stable earlier SP's, and the first release in a new year, even SP0 can be quite buggy so we avoid it every year.

The problem I am chasing is intermittent (but fairly rare) PDM connection problems. This can prevent using PDM at all, or cause intermittent data problems. sometimes this is caused by Windows update, Windows defender setting changes from windows update, or our virus checker and firewall/port settings (they get changed and we have to track it down). So the services needed by PDM are dependent on network and server uptime and we have recently seen Windows updates cause config changes that affected PDM.


I have been speaking to our SW reseller tech support, they recently provided a PDM connectivity check tool in response to our service request, and asked for logs on systems where PDM connectivity dropped out.
To be fair I need to do this and will report back what we find. The service request is open because I need to give them info and logs (they have been responsive)
So we are still working through minor/very intermittent issues with them. We have seen PDM errors on vault access on a system on the same local network as the server (rare but it did happen), and I also saw PDM errors on vault access while using VPN/internet access to our server. It is aggravated if internet connections are slow.
So I moved away from trying to access the vault with PDM over a VPN. So files are pulled from the vault when checked out and stored in a local cache on the workstation SSD, but this mechanism across an internet VPN is not 100% reliable for us, so we moved away from it.

We see the best stability/speed by having a workstation on the same local network as the PDM vault server with a fast switch (Gigabit ethernet) and single hop to the server
The most reliable and fastest way we found to work remotely/offsite with access to the PDM vault is to use a VPN to remote desktop to a local workstation in the office, and this seems to be the best method so far.
This gives local files on the workstation with an SSD and is very fast.

We check in files every night to the vault, and this gives good performance both in our shop, and allows fast access from home and in the office.

Overall, our system is useable and generally very stable, but we have a day of downtime every year to update PDM version, and a day to update SW on workstations and then reestablish PDM connectivity, and fix templates and then still work through minor issues. Sometimes the Service pack updates are almost like full installations.
Over the last couple of months we have seen intermittent PDM connection issues a few times, so we are trying to bring this down.

For solid works instability, Sometimes tech support blames a "corrupted registry", and this is a catch all for problems they cant fix (but probably true, but why?) The registry is a black box to me, and I find that can easily be blamed but probably is a problem in some cases. I feel like old registry settings can be an issue when loading multiple versions over years on the same PC, but this is a guess.
I have just recently stopped using Windows 7 on my personal workstation (now retired all the Win7 machines), so now we are running only Windows 10 rather than a mix of Win7 & Win10

I estimate we have about 3-4 days per year for SW and PDM upgrades, and about 2-3 days total combined time of misc crashes and instability per year.
Over the last few months we have had issues with PDM a few times and it never happens at a convenient time.
We have learned to just keep multiple PC's ready to go, and if one has a problem we can just switch to another machine, but using PDM it has to run or else no work is done.
So overall this might be considered good, but we would prefer zero downtime from PDM unavailability, or SW crashes.

Since we need to run with 100% uptime, we have to follow tech supports suggestions, and it is not uncommon to uninstall/reinstall a version if problems/instabilities crop up.
Keep in mind I am bringing up all problems over a period of many years, day to day we generally run just fine.
We have been using SW for 10 years now, and PDM for about 2 years.

I don't want to give the impressions SW and PDM is unusable, it really does run and usually quite reliably, but not at 100% availability so this is what we are looking for. We have grown our business by using SW so now we count on it as a critical system, and now have put all our eggs in the PDM basket, so we need it to run. When it is unavailable it is quite disturbing to get locked out and not be able to work. It feels like we have a padlock on the front door and it is quite a rude shock that is a full stop on our shop
It might only happen once or twice per year, but we wanted to check other peoples experiences to see if other people have similar problems.

We are discussing SW instability, and PDM instability and to be fair they are different portions of the software
Our SW is quite stable at the moment (but not 100%) and PDM is slightly less stable, and so this is what we are looking to make perfect.
When SW crashes, we reboot and keep going (perhaps with minor loss of time due to model losses, but generally no file corruption issues any more)
When PDM is unavailable, we cant do anything except get it fixed (and so far we have been able to do this)

The things I was looking for in our SW/PDM system was stability, version control, fast SSD local access on each workstation when using SW & CAM, reliable server vault storage (so we arent having multiple versions of a design across multiple machines) and good backup. We deal with OEM companies and it is really important to have control over file versions over time or we could make wrong version of parts, so this is why we went with PDM and it does work for version control and does solve that problem. We use the workgroups rather than the full enterprise version as we are just two people here at the moment designing.
We eliminated a lot of stress working on multiple projects and keeping versions under control when working on multiple machines and onsite/remotely and so this part is working out.

I just built my newest workstation PC about a month ago, and this build I am keeping any and all software off the system unless it is needed.

The stability of the system impacts our business, and I am sure a lot of people on PM as well so this is why I am asking here, so we can compare notes and share group wisdom and experiences.

I am striving for perfect stability, and it is great to get input here, your feedback is appreciated, Thanks again!
Steve
 

serview

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 14, 2012
Location
NJ
HI Boosted,
Thanks for the feedback,

In our experience
We had some intermittent problems with corrupted files when accessing them on a server without PDM
Our tech support reseller of SW recommended using PDM to get best combination of speed (local file access on the workstation SSD), stability, and to avoid issues in having multiple users access a file at the same time.

I tried to find the document they provided on this and am still looking for it (it was a couple years ago, I will ask them for it again and post it here), I asked for a formal statement and they said informally a lot of people store files on the server, and access them from the workstations but that is was not 100% reliable and could lead to file corruption. The provided a statement saying that PDM was a better method to avoid file corruption and provide version control with a fast/robust file access method from local SSD on the workstation (my summary based on my recollection of the document)

We did use the same file server type of storage for a while, but we felt it was faster to bring the files local to the workstation (to benefit from the SSD)
They gave me a technical document that talked about PDM for stability, speed, and as a best practice
We do have a good relationship with our reseller and trust what they say so we went with the suggestion and implemented PDM
Now that we are using it, I am glad we got it, but wish it was 100% reliable

Do you feel server and network latency does not affect your speed of file access?

Do you never see corrupted files or issues with multiple people accessing files at the same time?
We bought in on the info from the reseller, but it sounds like you are stable doing it this way so this is good info.

I will try to get the PDF on the subject that provided, I looked but didn't find it yet.
When we saw this in writing, it pushed us to go with PDM
We felt it was so important we bought in on the suggestions and guidance that best practice was to use PDM to get get local files, version control, and vault/file server stability.

One thing we like about PDM is the ability to check "where used" on a file, so we can navigate to the assembly is is used in, or the assembly we machine it in with vises, fixtures and the machine. So you can work with a part and jump from the full assembly we sell to the client to the machining assembly where we keep the CAM data, which I don't think you can do with just a file server, do you agree?

We did find PDM implementation for us required consulting services from our reseller.
How did you test PDM? This was not something we could test without a pretty big investment in time and consulting services from our reseller.

We sometimes form opinions on software, but then find it gets better over time so you have to keep checking to see if it gets better at least every few years as it keeps evolving and getting better in general.

I don't think PDM is to be avoided as it does work almost all the time for us, but we are trying to make it 100% reliable and find out other peoples experiences.
It is hard sometimes to separate the marketing hype from actual real world functionality that you will have to live with.

We have committed to PDM, and so there is no going back for us and we are going to keep relying on it, and trying to get it perfect.
I am glad to hear your server only file access is stable, but we had some issues with that type of file storage and that is why we moved to PDM.

Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it!
Steve
 

boosted

Stainless
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Location
Portland, OR
Do you feel server and network latency does not affect your speed of file access?

Do you never see corrupted files or issues with multiple people accessing files at the same time?
We bought in on the info from the reseller, but it sounds like you are stable doing it this way so this is good info.

Steve

Honestly I have never noticed any performance issues at all working directly off the server. On the rare occasion I get a big enough assembly that it starts to slow down, switching to lightweight always appears to fix it. We have gigabit connections to an old virtualization server with a raid setup. AFAIK performance is basically identical working on my local SSD or over the network.

No issues with file corruption, yet. However, that's why we backup to the cloud, which is pretty simple with the Windows server. Although, if multiple users access a file, it becomes "read only" which is a PITA.

To be fair, I do think our use case is a bit different (less demanding) than yours. We are a job shop, so our interfacing with SW is strictly for interrogating customer models and designing fixtures, etc... Occasionally I work with truly large assemblies, but in a normal day - it's almost never more than 20 or 30 components.

In the past I was on the management team at a much larger job shop, and we got a couple of long demos for PDM from the Hawk Ridge folks. There were a few things I really liked (some file handling automation would have been very helpful), but overall we decided it was a lot of added cost and IT complexity for minimal workflow benefit.
 

andehe

Plastic
Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Location
MI, USA
Tortoise SVN?

We are in a similar position (interestingly arrived at a similar position -PDM). Our CAM programmer has used TortoiseSVN at a previous employer (Solidworks/Camworks) and said it works pretty well in that you can see if it is the latest file directly in windows explorer. He said it works good but can't easily compare cam files like text cause they are written in HEX.

I wrote T SVN off as when I quickly looked it seemed to be legacy, but I looked just now the manual was last updated this year and may just have been fooled by the fonts. Anyone else used this solution? The only other reference I can find here is Using a git repo with G-Code? though there other other recent links online with regards to solidworks.
 

serview

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 14, 2012
Location
NJ
On the rare occasion I get a big enough assembly that it starts to slow down, switching to lightweight always appears to fix it.
Thanks for reminding me of this, I have not really used lightweight mode all that much, but will try it again. I was not fully sure of the tradeoffs, so I avoided it, but will try it again

We have gigabit connections to an old virtualization server with a raid setup. AFAIK performance is basically identical working on my local SSD or over the network.

We are trying to remove/reduce every latency we can, it does seem to me like local SSD is the best way as it avoids having to share the server/disk resources with other users, and then also move data across the network. We use Samsung 970_ EVO+ 2TB PCI-E SSD on our most recent workstation build with transfer rate of 3500MB/Sec.

But I hear you if your file server access is the same speed as your local SSD it works fine for your needs.
Thanks for your feedback and comments
Steve
 

Shawnrs

Stainless
Joined
Mar 30, 2016
Honestly I have never noticed any performance issues at all working directly off the server. On the rare occasion I get a big enough assembly that it starts to slow down, switching to lightweight always appears to fix it. We have gigabit connections to an old virtualization server with a raid setup. AFAIK performance is basically identical working on my local SSD or over the network.

No issues with file corruption, yet. However, that's why we backup to the cloud, which is pretty simple with the Windows server. Although, if multiple users access a file, it becomes "read only" which is a PITA.

To be fair, I do think our use case is a bit different (less demanding) than yours. We are a job shop, so our interfacing with SW is strictly for interrogating customer models and designing fixtures, etc... Occasionally I work with truly large assemblies, but in a normal day - it's almost never more than 20 or 30 components.

In the past I was on the management team at a much larger job shop, and we got a couple of long demos for PDM from the Hawk Ridge folks. There were a few things I really liked (some file handling automation would have been very helpful), but overall we decided it was a lot of added cost and IT complexity for minimal workflow benefit.


On large assemblies where fixtures are involved I like to suppress some components that can slow your system down. Any type of screw with threads on them get suppressed. In most cases like you said I really don't have much of a slow down. There is a case once in a while where our young engineers decided to draw in threads with a helix vs using hole wizard.
 








 
Top