The case for a vault.

The case for a vault.

The case for a vault? Why do you need a case around a vault? That’s an interesting thought, but I’m not referring to a physical case around a physical vault.
In this post I am “making the case” for using a secured workgroup folder as a vault to make sure mechanical part design and revision changes are properly managed.

In a recent posted titled “Dirty drawings are a liability,” I wrote about the issues of improperly controlled drawings and 3-D solid model files. Improperly controlled electronic files can be extremely costly beginning at the design stage and flowing all the way down to the manufacturer.

At my company, and as a precision machine shop, I see technical drawings and solid model files from many companies. Some of our customers have fantastic design and revision control procedures and other customers might benefit more from reading this.😉

I’ve actually seen more drawing issues from our smaller customers than I have from our larger customers. Throughout the years I’ve gathered from our smaller customers that they are well aware that they need more strict processes but don’t have the personnel and finances to support it. Owning a small company myself, I have this same challenge with certain facets of my business.

Generally, in the larger companies, they have dedicated document control people in place to manage and enforce their rules. They can also afford enterprise software systems.

Small companies with limited resources can still start an affordable secured small workgroup. Here is an overview of goals to consider when establishing a secured workgroup environment to control design and revision changes for your drawings and part files:

  • Design changes to a part file shouldn’t be done within the vault, the part should be checked out of the vault by taking ownership of the part file.
  • If the file is owned by another user you should not be able to take ownership without permission from the current owner.
  • Taking ownership of a part file is usually temporary for design changes to occur on your local computer.
  • The person taking ownership should not work with a “copy” from the vault, they should work directly on the native file.
  • A backup copy of the native file shall always be maintained on another computer or network folder!
  • When logged into the vault others should see who has the native part file ownership and a note about why.
  • The updated part with design improvements should be replaced back into the vault.
  • Whoever made the design change should roll the revision level to the next logical letter or number before placing the file back into the vault.
  • Other users in the workgroup should be automatically notified (if possible) of new revision changes especially if the part is assigned to an assembly or has a mating part.
  • Collaboration is key, depending on your needs, your workgroup should allow other users from across the hallway or from across the nation.
  • Ownership of the part file can be retained by you especially if you anticipate other design changes in the near future.
  • Ownership can be assigned to another user in the workgroup with your permission.

I’ve summarized small workgroup ideas above. My bullet points should only be a starting point for you. When establishing your own secure workgroup you should consider all the possible variables and tailor a system that is workable for your needs to ensure success.

Mismanaged drawings and 3-D solid model files can in fact make it all the way down the line to the manufacturer.

As the manufacturer I’ve received many requests for price quote from the buyers. Sometimes the buyer is trying to buy a precision part for an older revision, even though we may have recently manufactured the same part but to a more recent revision.

When I notice that the buyer has requested a price quote to an older revision, as a courtesy and to protect their interests, I’ll question it every time. In fact, on one occasion I saved the customer nearly $50,000 by informing them of a revision conflict that I had noticed.

Have I made the case for a secured workgroup vault to manage your designs, drawings, models and revisions?

Source: Jason M LaRock
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