Time spent searching your data can never be recovered. Whether that data is stored in a Windows folder structure or on a mapped drive of a server or even in SOLIDWORKS PDM.
Learning how to navigate the search engines in PDM can be most helpful and time saving. Searches can be done easily and come default with both PDM Standard and PDM Professional. This article explores the ways we can search in our PDM vault.
The default search engine can be found in the upper right corner of the PDM Local Vault window. From this, you can type any file name, number, description, etc. that you have stored in your vault as metadata. This metadata is stored with your file regardless what type it is, and can be searched for using the search tool. The default for this search is ‘Search in Current Folder,” but it can be changed to a host of other options from specific folders, different versions and also for variables.
To the right of the search bar, is an icon that can allow you access to the Search Tool window and the “Complete Search.” Both of these give you access to all the metadata that you have stored in your files as well as many ways to differentiate the files, such as a search for the current state, work in process or needs approval. This gives an engineering manager a quick view of all the work that needs to be approved before sending it to manufacturer or to a completed state. There is also the ability to search for files checked out of the vault and by whom. This is great for management to see who is working off a particular project and how long they have been working on it. But that’s just a small sampling of the search tool. There are many search options that can be found there.
Searches can also be customized by creating a “Card” that will carry all the topics that might be requested as a search. Things like project number, color, vendor, etc., that would set one project apart from another. There could also be engineering information, like the person that designed it or who checked it for quality. The information on the search card could be the same as the file card or as simple as just a couple of items to be reported. These search cards can also be shared to other vault users for easier access and eliminating the need to “recreate the wheel.”
Another way to make the searches easier and usable across users is to make them favorites. A search favorite can be created and saved, giving the user the ability to run that search at a moments notice to get information that can be used quickly.
The speed of the search and its ability to handle all the metadata can be credited to the backbone of the PDM system. The PDM Vault information is stored in the SQL server. Using the SQL server also allows the data to be stored, encrypted and indexed for security, back up and the ability to find your data quickly.
It is worthwhile to assess your vault usage expectations and determine the right blend of PDM client licenses for your team environment. Getting this right will contribute to the bottom line of your software investment. You will spend money where it makes sense, while giving your engineering group the resources and the tools that they need. It will also make daily access to the vault seamless and efficient for the end user.
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