PDM Systems and Flatter Files

Flatter Files isn’t a PDM competitor or replacement. PDM systems are designed to make drawing creation better. Flatter Files is designed to make drawing consumption better. Thus, Flatter Files makes PDM systems better. Flatter Files does not require a PDM system, but if you already have an existing PDM system or are considering adding a PDM system you should consider adding Flatter Files to the installation. When combined, you have the ultimate digital workflow for both drawing creation and drawing consumption.

During the creation process, a PDM system improves collaboration, improves communication between the designers and engineers, ensures data is never lost, and can provide a multi-step role based approval process. A PDM or similar software solution is great at what it is intended to do, which is enable the creation of drawings and/or documentation more efficiently. But using it to provide access to everyone outside the engineering and design team is far from ideal. Whether it is packaged as a traditional on premise server solution or as a cloud solution depends on your needs, but regardless PDM solutions are designed for CAD users. Not managers, shop foreman, supervisors, construction workers or outside vendors. They are designed to manage files because the engineer and designers need to edit the files but everyone else does not care about files, they care about the content. Using a quality PDM system is highly desirable for drawing creation, but once the drawing is created what is your plan for enabling access to the content?

This is where Flatter Files comes in. Flatter Files makes PDM systems better by specifically providing 4 unique features:

  • Unlimited Viewer Access

Flatter Files automatically creates PDFs and uploads them to a central searchable access point. You can enable access to your Flatter Files account to an unlimited number of viewers. This means that even if someone only needs access once a year, they can still be given access since there is no additional cost. In addition, these viewers are no longer given access to your PDM vault. In addition to the PDFs, Flatter Files can optionally upload the native CAD files as well as automatically create and upload generic CAD formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, DXF, and DWG. All content is accessible and organized around the PDF drawing making it super simple to find what you need. All of your content is accessible via a web application as well as native mobile applications for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

  • Drawing Markups

Flatter Files includes the ability for any of your viewers to easily mark up drawings on their mobile devices. See a mistake in the field or on the shop floor? Just mark up the drawing on your iPad, iPhone, or Android device and the appropriate people within your company will receive an email notification to review the suggested change. This provides an immediate feedback loop so there are no more excuses for mistakes to continue to show up on a drawing.

  • Assembly Views

If you are using 3D CAD software and your models consist of quite a few assemblies then Flatter Files can save you a lot of time. The Uploader app not only creates and uploads a PDF of each drawing but it also uploads the bill of materials data. Once the data is uploaded, assembly views are then automatically created. An assembly view contains all of the individual parts and sub assembly drawings needed to make a specific item. Many companies spend many hours creating a PDF that contains all of the drawings in an assembly. With Flatter Files these PDFs are automatically created. In addition, as revisions are created to the individual drawings the assembly view PDFs are automatically updated.

  • External Sharing

Flatter Files also provides a really convenient way for drawings to be shared with vendors or other partners outside your organization. Instead of emailing a PDF or drawing file, you send a link. This link provides password protected access to the content, which can include multiple drawings and/or assembly views. Optionally the CAD files and previous revisions can be included. Once the link is created, it doesn’t change. Meaning that as you create new revisions the vendor can simply return to the same link and the latest version is always available. This can save your purchasing department a lot of time if you work with lots of outside vendors. At any point the link can be deleted removing access to the content. You can also views access stats pertaining to exactly what each external vendor views or downloads.

As you can see, these 4 unique features provide a layer on top of your PDM system that benefits your company by improving drawing communication in many ways. In addition, Flatter Files provides a very unique integration with SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard that will allow you to maximize your investment. Please visit this link to learn more.

For additional details on how Flatter Files specifically integrates with PDM systems check out the documentation for uploading content or view the tutorial for SolidWorks PDM Professional (EPDM), SolidWorks PDM Standard or Autodesk Vault. In addition, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] where we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.