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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

CAD/PDM Software Evaluation: Solid Edge/Teamcenter Rapid Start

 
June 13th, 2014 by Jeff Rowe

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of a series of four evaluation articles of CAD/PDM systems for SMBs.

Overview

Siemens’s Teamcenter Rapid Start is a product data management (PDM) solution that is preconfigured, yet extensible. As a preconfigured deployment option of Teamcenter, it is intended to address the most common PDM needs of SMBs. With its “simplified” installation process, Teamcenter Rapid Start applies preconfigured best practices to common engineering tasks and processes for SMBs.

In a stand-alone environment, all server and all client applications are installed on each machine. In a shared environment, server applications are installed on a single server. Each machine has network access to the server and has only the client applications installed.

The video that follows shows how to get started with Teamcenter Rapid Start PDM, and includes demos on CAD data management, document management, and process management.

Teamcenter Rapid Start

Siemens defines PDM as the use of software to manage product data and process-related information in a single, central system. This information includes CAD data, models, parts information, manufacturing instructions, requirements, notes and documents. According to Siemens, the “ideal” PDM system is accessible by multiple applications and multiple teams across an organization, and supports business-specific needs. PDM software can provide a company with a solid foundation that can be expanded into a full product lifecycle management (PLM) platform.

Lifecycle visualization provides sharing and on-demand representations of the product and its underlying assemblies and parts, without the need for a CAD authoring tool. Digital mockup capabilities can reduce the need for costly physical prototyping. The JT data format is the common 3D language for PLM visualization, and enables visualization and analysis of multi-CAD assemblies.

Basic Workflow

Teamcenter Rapid Start workflows are not specific to a CAD package and will work with any objects in Teamcenter.

When a Teamcenter client is logged on to, a Teamcenter session is established.

After the session is established and running, the Teamcenter application is opened and applications are used to perform tasks.

The Teamcenter rich client, a platform-independent client implementation (Java application) for users who interact with Teamcenter, runs on client hosts and serves as a gateway to a company’s product information. Teamcenter’s product data management perspectives can be run along with applications, such as Microsoft Office, custom applications, Java plug-ins, or CAD/CAM/CAE applications — all from a common platform. The rich client accesses Teamcenter databases using a remote or local server.

The rich client provides a selection of application perspectives and views to manage information.

Teamcenter Rapid Start uses a single object called an item to represent a part and link to datasets (files that define the part). Revisions are linked to the item and represent the revisions of the item (part). Different types of items represent different types of parts (for example, standard parts). Datasets related to an item revision are linked by relationships.

Workflow processes are used to accomplish tasks. A workflow is the automation of business procedures where documents, information, or tasks are passed from one participant to another in a way that is governed by rules or procedures. Teamcenter workflows allow product data processes to be managed. Any type of workflow can be created to accommodate business processes.

Teamcenter Rapid Start comes with a set of preconfigured workflows for product development processes. The preconfigured workflows can be used, or custom workflows can be created to meet business needs. Teamcenter Rapid Start also includes simple and preconfigured change management capabilities.

The process for creating a simple assembly with Solid Edge and Teamcenter Rapid Start is straightforward:

Another common approach for SMBs would be to design an assembly in Solid Edge and save it Teamcenter. In other words, Teamcenter Rapid Start supports both bottom-up and top-down approaches for creating assemblies.

Once an assembly is created, it can be released using the Workflow. Releasing locks the parts against change. Changing a released part or assembly is accomplished by revising the part or assembly. The worklist is used to manage the workflow.

There are two methods of releasing an assembly using the workflow:

  • Single procedure– Use this process when all parts that need releasing follow the same workflow procedure and require action by the same reviewers or approvers.
  • Multiple procedures — Use this process when the parts that need releasing follow different workflow procedures and require action by different reviewers or approvers.

Once an assembly is released, the worklist is used to manage the approval process providing each participant with notification when review tasks need attention.

I didn’t do much regarding managing the product structures process because of its complexity.

However, in the Structure Manager, a product structure is created, also known as a bill of materials (BOM). Teamcenter allows viewing of an indented listing of the assemblies and piece parts that comprise the product structure. The indenting allows for interpreting relationships between assemblies and component parts. An assembly has structure; a piece part has no structure.

Because an assembly or part may have a different lifecycle to the associated CAD design, Teamcenter permits managing and releasing the part and design separately. One part may be represented by several CAD designs and, likewise, a CAD design may apply to more than one part. Alternatively, a site may maintain fully synchronized, identical part and design structures.

Part structures are typically optimized for engineering change control and part reuse. They can also be linked to ERP or other business systems. This contrasts with CAD structures that are optimized for part positioning and reuse.

In My Teamcenter, CAD design files, specification documents or other information to the top-level assembly (the product itself), or to any of the assemblies or piece parts can be attached.

Item elements can also be attached to items in the product structure. They represent features that are not parts of the physical structure but are associated with it or implemented by it, for example, weld points or ports for connectors. They are stored as occurrence relations.

Product structure can be built, viewed, and manipulated in Teamcenter Rapid Start, or can be imported from CAD systems. BOM structures can also be viewed and edited within Microsoft Excel.

Final Thoughts

Teamcenter Rapid Start is a comprehensive PDM system, and then some. Teamcenter Rapid Start has a lot of lifecycle management (LM) capabilities. However, Teamcenter Rapid Start could be construed as more than strictly a PDM system. Rather, more like a PD(L)M system. By itself, Teamcenter Rapid Start is a very capable system, but should your needs grow and dictate, the step up to full-blown Teamcenter would probably be relatively easy.

Report Card

Pros

  • Document management is set up and controlled in a very methodical manner.
  • JT Viewer within Teamcenter is fast and has good model manipulation tools and capabilities.
  • Multi-CAD capabilities.
  • Good at managing common tasks with preconfigured workflows for product release and engineering changes.

Cons

  • Although some tasks can require several steps to accomplish, simple release workflows are part of the package, and configured workflows are actually two-stage workflows.
  • System documentation and online training is lacking. Almost certainly would need customized training to get up to speed quickly. However, Siemens just released a series of new training documents that should resolve a major portion of this issue.
  • Roles and privileges for many tasks can be difficult to comprehend, such as setting revision status.

Cost (MSRP): CAD (Solid Edge) — $3,995; PDM (Teamcenter Rapid Start) — $2,000 server license, $1,869 per standard author, $882 per standard viewer.

Overall Grade: A-

For More Information: http://www.siemens.com/plm/rapid-start

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