The holiday season is a time to check things off your wish list. Whether you have been naughty or nice, crossing things off that list can be therapeutic. But what about your desire to no longer manually enter Bills of Material (BOM) into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. That is a big wish for many organizations. Engineering has designed products in SOLIDWORKS and created a nice, neatly formatted, and complete BOM on a drawing, yet we still have to manually re-enter that data into our business process system. Let’s take a look at how we can make this sharing of data possible with PDM Professional and our partners.

Approaching a solution that will fit your organization requires us to layout and discuss all the possibilities available to make a connection to your ERP system, starting from an out-of-the-box answer, up to custom development. Here are 3 approaches to handling this connection.

Approach #1

Workflows in PDM Professional are very powerful. One of the tools that makes a workflow dynamic is its ability to perform an action, while a file moves from state to state inside the workflow. An action to export an .xml file is available, out-of-the-box, and can be configured using the PDM administration tool.

XML actions on SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional allow you to configure which data is exported and Included on the BOM export. This action will create an .xml file which potentially could be imported into the ERP system. Most, not all, ERP systems have a mechanism to pull in an .xml file and populate a BOM. If you are using a system that does not, one of the other approaches may suit your needs.

Approach #2

This approach has the broadest possibilities. PDM Professional’s backbone is a Microsoft SQL database and the software is shipped with a comprehensive API. This approach could use either, or both, of these tools to ensure this connection to the business system happens seamlessly. Customization gives us the flexibility to decide how we want actions triggered, as well as how it occurs. For example, you may just create an ODBC connection between the database in PDM Professional and that of your ERP. In cases like this, the user is completely hands off and the systems talk behind the scene when a trigger has occurred. Some ERP systems will read in other formats like tab delimited. txt file or .csv (comma separated). In order to accomplish this, you would need to use the API that ships with PDM and determine what trigger sets it in motion.

When deciding how to plan for this approach, you must first and foremost contact your ERP vendor to see what formats and mechanisms they have to import data. This conversation will point us towards which custom approach is most feasible.

Approach #3

Take advantage of SOLIDWORKS partners!  Our product is mature and many others have already developed custom tools for integration. You can find all of our PDM Service partners and Partner products here.

Let’s take a quick look at one of them. QBuild Software is a company that specializes in connecting CAD (PDM) to ERP.

Partnering with QBuild allows engineering teams the interface by comparing data between PDM and ERP. Engineers can then decide when and what data to push or pull to ERP.

There are many partners, QBuild is just one example of a partner who has already done some of the work of making this the holiday you cross the PDM->ERP off your wish list. If you have any more questions about these three approaches or just want a more in depth conversation, contact your SOLIDWORKS Sales representative.


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