Thursday, 23 November 2017

COLLABRATIVE WORKING IN A MULTI-USER ENVIRONMENT

Working in a multi-user environment is a challenging and error-prone task in an engineering sector. SOLIDWORKS has options and tools to perform tasks in a multi-user environment to a great extent in an easy manner. But it is important to setup a systematic multi-user environment.

Setting a Multi-user Environment:
The first step for a multi-user system is assigning defined tasks for each and every person & maintaining separate level for work flow.
1) Manager : Scheduling the task & Instructing the required changes
2) Supervisors / Leaders : Check the data and assigning & coordinating the work
3) Bottom level workers / Designers : Will perform the assigned work (Designing)

File Storage:
The most important task is to keep data files in a centralized server or system. It should contain only read-only access to avoid accidental changes in data files.

It is difficult to work together if the files are stored in the local hard drives, especially in SOLIDWORKS. Hence proper Implementation plan is required for seamless work-flow.

File Transfer:
Supervisors / Leaders should take care of the file transfer (in & out) and he is provided with administrative access to the data files.

Task Management:
Manager will schedule the task to the concern person and monitor the individual as well as team updates. Even simple mistakes can cause major problems.

SOLIDWORKS Options:
In SOLIDWORKS, following settings are available for collaborative working.

Tools --> Options --> System Options --> External Reference
Tools --> Options --> System Options --> Collaboration

These options control the file permissions within the team and help to work in the most recent or updated files by every users.

External Reference:
In this section, the first option will be “Open referenced documents with read-only access”. This option must be checked when two or more users are working in the same directory.

When this option is checked all referenced documents related to the assembly will be opened only with the read-only access by default.



Collaboration:

This entire section is dedicated to multi-user settings. Checking “Enable multi-user environment” option changes the work-flow from single user to multi-user by activating the other options of the collaboration section.









If “Add shortcut to menu items for multi-user environment” is checked, a shortcut is added to file menu list as Get Write Access / Make Read-only. This will help the multi-users to work on a single document (part or assembly) and make changes accordingly without any error.





















Check if files opened read-only have been modified by other users” option is to check the whether the opened read-only file have been modified or saved by other user for the interval specified by the current user. (Note: Lightweight components are not checked)

If the system detects a change, a tool-tip in the lower right of the graphics area points to an icon on the status bar. Click the icon to access the Reload dialog box. Reload dialog is used by the current user to reload or update the modifications done by the other users.



This section also contains options related to comments which can be useful for communicating the changes required and necessary details between the various users with time-stamp added to the comments in the multi-user environment.