About BiI

BiI is a powerful and lightweight solution for
  • the automatic bidirectional synchronisation of data between PDM and SAP
  • the guaranteed data consistency of the data in BiI's responsibility
  • the management of BOMs from CADs not supported by the PDM
  • the management of neutral formats (DWG, DXF, PDF...) outside the vault
  • the automatic providing of data, e.g. neutral formats, inside SAP
  • the even more simple integration of the PDM into existing systems

For reasons of simplicity, SAP Business One/beas is referred to as SAP and SolidWorks Enterprise PDM/PDM Professional as PDM, Bill(s) of Material as BOM(s) in the following.

Why BiI

Open Source Code
  • Complete transparency by owning the source code
Data Migration
  • Import of SAP data into CAD/PDM
  • Import of CAD/PDM data into SAP
Data Consistency
  • Data synchronisation only possible if predefined specifications are adhered to
  • Strict separation of master data maintenance between departments
  • Logging of all transactions in the BiI Database
Economical
  • No costs due to double data maintenance
  • No additional PDM licence required
  • Only one additional SAP licence required
  • Simple integration into the existing work environment
  • Short implementation and training time
Increasing Efficiency
  • No manual, lengthy and error-prone data synchronisation
  • Data check and synchronisation between PDM and SAP at the touch of a button
  • Optimised SolidWorks Convert Task for faster neutral format creation
  • Automatic collection of e.g. neutral formats for orders inside SAP
  • Meaningful status and error information during synchronisation

Workflows are usually automated when the time required for manual data maintenance is no longer in a cost/benefit ratio. At this time, there is usually so much data available, that migration is unavoidable. Due to several successful migrations, tools are available that can be customised to individual needs with relatively little effort.

About Me

Often, software systems that are not compatible with each other, are used. There is great potential for optimisation in order to reduce the resulting costs permanently. For this reason, in the last few years I have specialised in the administration and customising of ERP, CAD and PDM systems, the development of interfaces for data exchange and tools to efficiency increase.

Based on my professional experience as an administrator, programmer, engineer, production planner and mechanic, I have the understanding of cross-departmental workflows and the resulting needs for process optimisation. With this knowledge and my programming skills, I am able to realise specific software tools for process optimisation in record time.

My software and programming skills
Virtualisation VMware, Microsoft Azure
Administration Windows-Server, SQL-Server, SolidWorks CAD, SolidWorks PDM, SAP Business One/beas
Programming languages C#, VisualBasic, Visual Basic for Applications, Visual Basic Script, Transact-SQL
API programming SolidWorks CAD, SolidWorks PDM, SAP Business One, Microsoft Office
VBA programming SolidWorks CAD, SolidWorks PDM, MS-Excel, MS-Project
CAD SolidWorks, Unigraphics NX, ThinkDesign, AutoCAD
CAM WorkNC, MasterCAM, HyperMill
CNC controls DIN, Heidenhain TNC

Preconditions

Hard- & Software

Specification

BiI SAP-PDM V0.6.0

Overall System
  • PDM as leading system
  • Bidirectional synchronisation
  • Managing CAD neutral formats (DWG, DXF, PDF...) outside the vault
  • Meaningful status and error information during synchronisation
  • Plausibility check according to specific guidelines before each synchronisation
  • Differentiation of mandatory data and optional data for item creation and update in SAP
  • Number ranges with unique number pairs between PDM and SAP
BiI-Server
  • Importing item master data into SAP via the DI API only
  • Prevent uncontrolled item creation or update
  • SQL-Server as the interface for data exchange
  • Logging of all transactions in the BiI Database
PDM
  • No additional licences
  • Managing BOMs from any CAD system
  • Reading out BOMs from a predefined configuration
  • Reading and writing of the variables from or to a predefined configuration
  • Transfer of master data and BOMs in highest version to SAP
SAP
  • Only one additional licence for the interface
  • Automatic item number assignment on new creation
  • Updating all mandatory data during every synchronisation
  • Detecting and preventing unauthorised changes to marked fields before every master data update by SP_TransactionNotification

SolidWorks PDM Add-In Wrapper V0.2.0

Overall System
  • A wrapper for all PDM events except tasks and serial numbers
  • Expandable by any programming and scripting language available under Windows
  • Controlling the behaviour of the add-in via an INI file and RegEx
  • Sharing information between programs and scripts via files in INI format
  • Providing a set of default information for each event
  • A debug mode for measuring execution times and debugging scripts

Features

BiI SAP-PDM V0.6.0
  • Managing BOMs in PDM from any CAD system, even if the CAD is not supported by the PDM
  • Managing CAD neutral formats (DWG, DXF, PDF...) outside the vault on a file server
  • Managing PDM configurations as items in SAP
  • Synchronisation can be restricted to defined PDM workflow status
  • Managing of PDM assemblies in SAP as a purchase part without a BOM if the BOM is not needed
  • Default PDM values ​​for data transfer to SAP
  • Number ranges in unique n:m relationships
  • Integrated web server
  • Using of SolidWorks BOMs
  • Support of multilingual translation in SAP
  • Configurator to easily create and customise BiI
  • Implementation of all tables, stored procedures, functions, settings etc. into the BiI database
  • Completely revised source code for easy customisation to new requirements
  • Full features list
SolidWorks PDM Add-In Wrapper V0.2.0
  • Development of add-ins in any programming and scripting language
  • Full control of the order in which add-ins are processed
  • Simple PDM integration into business processes
  • Full control over the programmes and scripts by owning the source code
  • Short development time for add-ins or prototypes
  • Full features list

Last finished project

ERP, CAD and PDM in the Cloud

The company I work for as an ERP/CAD manager has the strategy of outsourcing hardware and software to the Cloud. Due to my previous professional experience, I am responsible for setting up the ERP, PDM and CAD systems and outsourcing them to the Cloud. In order to be able to react to new business requirements at any time, complete control of these systems and the associated servers is a basic requirement. Therefore, no SaaS models are used. Instead, a company-own Cloud was built via Microsoft Azure

Advantages of the Cloud
  • The original data is always in the Cloud
  • Replacement of expensive hardware by Thin Clients is possible
  • Optimal use of resources through load balancing
  • Time shifted use of resources by geographically separated users
  • Access to the workstations from any location
  • Billing of the virtual machine per hour used
  • Minimised installation and maintenance
  • No breakdown due to defective hardware
ERP-System
The ERP system, SAP Business One/beas On-Premise, was the first to be up and running in the Azure Cloud. It confirmed the strategy of not using SaaS models. This enables continuous adaptations. These are mainly:
  • Creating and updating documents
  • Showing all required beas information on the SAP user interface
  • Programming of specific SQL reports
  • Programming of add-ins for required but non-existing SAP functions
  • Conception and programming of interfaces to adjacent systems
SolidWorks CAD- and PDM-System

3D CAD systems running in the Cloud require fast CPUs/GPUs as well as a very efficient client/server transfer protocol to transmit the data on the screen. Since Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 , Microsoft has been using AVC/H.264 compression, the standard used in HDTV. This achieves very good results in compression and the quality of the streaming so that there is no difference between working on the workstation and working in the Cloud. The prerequisite for this is a well sized and stable internet connection.

In December 2016, with the introduction of the N-Series in Microsoft Azure, which uses NVIDIA GRID 2.0 technology and NVIDIA TESLA M60 and K80 GPUs, Microsoft gave the prospect of being able to outsource CAD systems to the Cloud on favourable terms in the future. In September 2017, due to the updates and patches, Microsoft was, in my opinion, at the point that it was worth building a test system. To get realistic results, I built a clone of the live system as a test system in the Cloud. The NC6 series was the basis for this. The first tests I did personally confirmed my expectations. Therefore the test system in the Cloud was released for long-term testing and was put to the acid test by the engineering department. These tests included work with CAD and PDM as well as everyday usability, such as communication with Skype for Business. The result is that the workstations, as of October 2017, offer no further advantages under the given requirements compared to the Cloud system. On the contrary, the costs and maintenance of the workstations are significantly higher than those in the Cloud. The knowledge gained of this test led to the decision to outsource the CAD workstations and the PDM server to the Cloud.

BiI to join the Systems CAD, PDM and SAP
With the migration of the CADs and the PDM to the Cloud, the base for the joining of the systems was made. The bidirectional interface BiI has once again prevailed over solutions from leading vendors and has been adapted to the company's requirements. In May 2018 the system started successfully.

Résumé
For outsourcing to the Cloud and the administration of the servers, details that do not affect local servers, must be taken into account. As an example, the 3D mouse has to be TCP-IP supported due to the required RDP connection. If there is a willingness to analyse and optimise, it is possible to outsource the CAD workstations and the PDM server to the Cloud at significantly more favourable conditions with all the advantages listed above.

Downloads

As I am an Open Source fan, my programs, macros etc. are only available as source code for download. This gives the possibility of checking and customising. If you decide to download, it is your responsibility to make sure that your systems work properly with the source code I provide. You will automatically confirm this by using the source code that you have checked and possibly customised in the compiled form. Furthermore, you automatically accept the licence agreement for the source code. You need 7-Zip to unpack the files.

Macros and Scripts    downloads
PDM-Report:
Shows all assigned variables for files
PDM-SQL:
History for user logons
Shows derived BOM names for a specific file in file versions
PDM-VBS:
PDM transition with simple user input
PDM-VBA:
Gets all variables in all configurations for a file and export them to Excel
Modify the default PDF task to export all pages except a named page

PDM add-ins    downloads
Mini Add-In for exporting PDM variables and BOMs to XML
Due to the requests and the reason that this Mini Add-In does not change any data of other systems, I decided to make it available for download. It should be noted that at the time of programming, in mid-2014, it was only created as a feasibility study for the Prototype V0.1.0 and it is offered in the original version. It has been the basis for the further development of BiI. The source code has been developed 'quick and dirty'. The Mini Add-In needs to be optimised, but it still does its job. Due to the low complexity of the source code, the basic PDM API functions for getting the data transfer information are easy to understand. By downloading , you accept the licence terms and confirm that you are aware that you have no right to my support. The SHA-512 hash value of the zipped file is listed here and can be checked, e.g. with HashMyFiles .

Add-in to enforce comments for defined status transitions in defined workflows and user groups
The post Require comment for specific transisiton in the SolidWorks forum is about the fact that in the PDM administration comments can only be enforced for all or no status transitions. When programming BiI I had a similar issue and I solved it with a short custom add-in. There are workarounds available, but none of the workarounds that I know works with the comments at the status transition. As it is still not possible in PDM 2017 SP5, I have decided to publish a modified version of the add-in for download to solve the described issue. The comment is forced if the current user is in a workflow, status and user group are defined via an INI file. The source code contains only a few lines but it can prevent a lot of frustration if comments are only required in specific status transitions. By downloading , you accept the licence terms and confirm that you are aware that you have no right to my support. The SHA-512 hash value of the zipped file is listed here and can be checked, e.g. with HashMyFiles .

If you are interested in finding out how this add-in can be implemented with only 37 lines of code with the SolidWorks PDM Add-In Wrapper , have a look at this script.

BiI V0.1.0

30 requests since February 2017

Are you facing the challenge of implementing a bidirectional interface? Do you need inspiration on how to implement an interface like this? Have a look at A short overview of BiI V0.1.0 in 90 seconds.

If you are interested in the source code, send me an e-mail to bii@erppdm.com with the subject BiI source code . You will receive the source code V0.1.0 of the prototype ( 7-Zip -90kb), which has meanwhile become the base of several implementations for the development of your own bidirectional interface.

I would be grateful to learn your name and the reason for your interest, but of course the source code is also available without this information.

By requesting this source code, you accept the licence terms, confirm that you are aware of the potential risks and have no right to my support. The SHA-512 hash values of the single files are listed here and can be checked, e. g. with HashMyFiles .

SWPAW V0.2.0

The source code of the SolidWorks PDM Add-In Wrapper V0.2.0 is now available on GitHub.