Implementing “Trouble Sheets” to Easily Document Design Change Requests

Your engineer team works tirelessly to design a product. After days, weeks, months, maybe even a year's worth of work, you finally approve and release your product design. Your job is done. Everything is sure to work out perfectly -- of course, this is hardly ever the case.

Organizations, small and large alike, identify problems in released designs every day. Another common factor that seems to be independent of organizational size is WHO or WHERE these issues are identified. It’s often a different department from Engineering altogether. For example, QA, Purchasing or even Manufacturing.

So how does a member of one of these groups notify engineering of the potential issue? Usually, it’s an email. Or maybe simply walking over to the engineering manager’s desk only to find he or she is in a meeting or out visiting a customer. If only there was a better way!

A Comprehensive Product Data Management Tool

SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional contains great functionality to easily create “trouble sheets.” Trouble sheets is a simple form used to report issues and help initiate Engineering Change Orders. Utilizing templates, we can invoke a command directly from our file vault (where the users are looking at the files) and capture all of the relevant information. Best of all, we don’t have to formally document everything. It will automatically notify the appropriate parties that action is required. Let’s take a look.

Say a member of the manufacturing team is looking at a file in the vault when a potential issue is discovered. Initiating a trouble sheet is as easy as a right-click from anywhere in the vault:

Initiating a“Trouble Sheets” in SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional screen capture

This pops up the trouble sheet card and requests the user fill in some information.

"Trouble Sheet" Card in SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional screen capture

Card are completely customizable to capture the relevant information to your organization. In this particular card, I have several useful features enabled. First off, it generates a serial number for the trouble sheet. This is pulled via PDM automatically, so the user doesn’t have to look up what the next CNR number is.

In addition, it’s automatically grabbing the name of the logged in user as the initiator, and the date field as today’s date. Additional information including details are filled in by the user manually. Next, hit “OK” to create the trouble sheet. The role of the member of manufacturing team is done. They’ve reported the issue and can get back to working on other things!

Reporting an Issue Using Trouble Sheets in SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional screen capture

How It Works

In the background, PDM creates a Microsoft Word document in a separate folder in the vault. The file is named based on the serial number pulled by the card and is automatically checked in. This triggers the notification that gets sent to the engineering manager.

SOLIDWORKS PDM Notification screen capture
SOLIDWORKS PDM Notification in the Vault screen capture

These notifications can also be sent via email so that the appropriate parties can receive them, even when they’re not logged into the vault. The link provided in the notification can then be used to directly open the file and view the Word document.

The word document was created from a template form that exists elsewhere in the vault. Essentially, it’s just a blank version of the document with “fields” that will be filled out. When a user initiates a trouble sheet, PDM creates a copy of that form. SOLIDWORKS PDM can even link directly into the fields in a Microsoft office document.

As a result, PDM automatically pushes the information captured from the trouble sheet card (where the user filled it out) right into the fields of the document. As if by magic, the document itself is already filled out!

Change notice request created in SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional Word Doc screen capture

This is an incredibly powerful way to allow virtually anyone in the organization to efficiently participate in the engineering change process. Identifying problems in the design can be enough of a disruption, so the process to report these issues shouldn’t be invasive or a time-consuming task!

With SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, it’s as simple as a right-click. More importantly, it’s capturing more relevant information, automatically routing to the appropriate parties, and most of all eliminating the need to physically track down that elusive engineering manager!

Want to learn more?