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Automation for Solid Edge: Choosing the right type of automation

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Interested in automating repetitive tasks in Solid Edge? Writing a batch program? Web-based design for Solid Edge? The difference between a successful automation project and a failed automation …

Interested in automating repetitive tasks in Solid Edge? Writing a batch program? Web-based design for Solid Edge? The difference between a successful automation project and a failed automation project lies in the planning. Before you write a single line of code, there are a number of questions that should be carefully evaluated:

> What is possible with automation?
> What type of program would be best suited to the task at hand?
> What are the advantages and pitfalls of the different types of programs?

EDA has been developing custom automation software for engineering and manufacturing companies all over the US for over 20 years and has used each type of program mentioned in this presentation to solve particular challenges. Learn from our experience and see examples of real projects developed by software engineers at EDA.

This slideshow was presented by EDA software engineer Madison Miner at Solid Edge University 2012. #SEU12.

Learn more about EDA & the software development services we offer at www.edainc.net.

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  • 1. Madison MinerSoftware EngineerEDA, Inc. #SEU12
  • 2. Presenter background• EDA has been an automation consultant for over 21 years.• Madison has been a software engineer @ EDA for 9 years.• EDA has experience automating Solid Edge, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Google SketchUp, MS Office and more.• EDA has automated quoting, drafting, design, engineering and manufacturing. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 2 Siemens PLM Software
  • 3. Questions to be answered during this presentation:• What is possible with automation?• What are the different types of automation programs?• What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?• When should you use each type of automation program?• What problems has EDA solved using each type of program? © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 3 Siemens PLM Software
  • 4. What is possible with automation? “Automation is to Engineering as Robotics is to Manufacturing."• Automate Repetitive Tasks • Setting file properties. Setting material weights, colors. Creating design tables. Updating part numbers.• Automate Revision Manager to batch move and/or rename files.• Automate Design • One simple part, a whole assembly, or an entire machine.• Automate Report and Drawing Generation • Word, Excel, PDF, DWG • Quotes, Proposals, Technical Data Sheets• Automate Order Entry and Quoting • For in-house sales people or customers © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 4 Siemens PLM Software
  • 5. What are the different types of automationprograms?• Console • Text-only interface. Runs outside SE on user’s computer.• Windows Form • Graphical UI. Runs outside SE on user’s computer.• Plug-In / Macro • Runs inside Solid Edge on the user’s computer.• Web Form • Runs outside Solid Edge on a web server. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 5 Siemens PLM Software
  • 6. Console ProgramAdvantages:• Simple to develop.• Easy to call from other programs.• Easy to pass parameters from other programs.Disadvantages:• Not very user friendly.• Difficult for users to enter multiple parameters.• Cannot easily prompt for user input (no drop-down list, file select dialogs, etc.).• Can be challenging to keep program open after running.• Hard to update if used on multiple computers. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved. Page 6 Siemens PLM Software
  • 7. Windows Form ProgramAdvantages:• Easy to prompt users for input.• Can easily access files on local computer or network.Disadvantages:• Hard to update if used on multiple computers.• Can be time consuming to create.• Can be difficult to call from Solid Edge.• Can be difficult to have the user interact with Solid Edge while the program is running. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 7 Siemens PLM Software
  • 8. Plug-In / MacroAdvantages:• Called from inside Solid Edge.• Looks like an integrated component of Solid Edge.• Can be called at different stages during model development.• Can prompt the user to interact with the model, e.g., to select features.• Can be easy to develop (macro).Disadvantages:• Can be difficult to develop (plug-in).• Hard to update if used on multiple computers.• Cannot restart Solid Edge when required. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved. Page 8 Siemens PLM Software
  • 9. Web FormAdvantages:• Easy to maintain.• Easy to deploy.• Easy to use.• If the program only generates .SAT or .DWG files, users do not have to have Solid Edge installed.• Easy to develop a high quality interface.• Can be used by mobile devices, Macs, Linux, etc.Disadvantages:• Can be difficult to develop back end.• Internet connection required for use.• Can be troublesome supporting multiple browsers. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 9 Siemens PLM Software
  • 10. When to use a Console program• Programs that are called from other software.• Batch programs that operate on multiple existing files.• Programs that are called often and require little user input.EDA has used a console program for:• PSM Updater: a program that takes a single argument (file name) and then opens that file, modifies the Bend Relief value and “Simplify B Splines” option, then saves and closes the file. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 10 Siemens PLM Software
  • 11. When to use a Windows Form program• Batch programs that operate on multiple existing files.• Programs that are not frequently updated.• Program that require multiple inputs from the user.• Programs that are accessed by a small number of users.EDA has used a Windows Form Program for:• Revision Maker: Allows the user to select an assembly and a destination folder, search and replace file names in all linked parts, change exposed assembly variables then copies all linked files & creates a new revision. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 11 Siemens PLM Software
  • 12. When to use a Plug-In or Macro• Programs for which the user must interact with Solid Edge.Example EDA Program:• Tank Evaluator: Fuel volume evaluation depending on tank tilt, user has to interact with model at several stages, to decide tank size, create tank shell, & perform a volume evaluation. Results of evaluation are written to Excel spreadsheet and saved. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 12 Siemens PLM Software
  • 13. When to use a Web-Based program• Programs with a large number of users (employees, engineers and/or customers).• Programs that are frequently updated.• Programs for inexperienced users or users that do not have Solid Edge installed.• Programs that need to support mobile devices, Macs, Linux, etc.• Example EDA Program:• AmeriTex Enclosures Configurator: Allows customers to design, build and order custom enclosures. Customers can download 3D models and 2D PDFs. © Siemens AG 2012. All Rights Reserved.Page 13 Siemens PLM Software
  • 14. Choosing an Automation Program TypeDepending on the TaskThank You!Questions?madison@edainc.netwww.edainc.net #SEU12