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Large Assembly Managment


New member
I'm trying to run before I know how to walk here, so I thought I'd ask the user community for some ideas.

We assembly retail gas pumps and in order to assembly them in an understandable fashion with some kind of balance between the different modules it takes to make up the dispenser, we create many drawings with new BOM's each time. With the old way (Unigraphics), we would make up these different modules, consisting of differnt parts, and create drawings from them. A while ago, a seasoned Pro/E user told me that when working in Pro/E you could model and assemble the entire dispenser in one file and then reference certain parts of that dispenser in various module drawings. What is the way called?

Is this the proper way to manage large assemblies and their drawings? I don't have a problem with the old way, it makes for a little more assembling, but the file size is small in comparision. I'm at a point were I need some advice, please.

Steve C
I think you are referring to Family table.

I do think this is a better way to control the assembly.

Ex.: If you have to replace a common part in the assembly, with family tabled assembly you only have to do this in one assembly, whereas in your method, you have to replace the part in every assemblies.
Yes, you want to use family tables to document different design configurations of an assembly, to include different steps in the manufacturing / assembly process.

In addition, I would highly recommend using simplified representations of the family table instances to improve your computer's performance manipulating the drawing.

I won't go into the details of creating a custom simplified rep-- there's tons of information available elsewhere-- but I would highly recommend only using the geometry rep of components you want to show, and also recommend excluding interior components. (You can't see them anyway; why bother performing the calculations in your drawing views?)

David Martin

Torgon Industries
OK, that's what I'm looking for, thanks. Anybody else want to speak up? I'm still listening.

Now I'm not sure what to call the top level assy. Isn't it just a reference model and will probably need some descriptive name like 'wide dispenser' or 'narrow dispenser'?

You guys spoke of family tables and configurations to controll the different designs. Do you know of some more information on these two subjects that I might be able to read? I have printed out, from the Wildfire help pages, all the documentation on Family Tables. Is this where I'll find something about Configuration?

Steve C
I personally avoid using family tables of assemblies as a configurator... (i.e. swapping out / supressing components). Things can get hairy downstream pretty quickly, expecially with Intralink or other data managers.

If you have the Pro/Process for Assembly module, that is your best bet for simulating and documenting your manufacturing process within Pro/E.

If you are configuring one-offs for production then you may not have a need to store all the configurations in a single top-level assembly together. You would just need to find a way to configure the assembly with the correct components and then do a save-as on it, build it, and then archive it. Then you'd start over with the next one. Pro/Program and Layouts (Pro/Notebook) are an excellent way to achieve this.

If you want a decent reference, try Automating Design in Pro/ENGINEER with Pro/PROGRAM. Its a few years old, but Pro/PROGRAM hasn't changed much in years. Otherwise, look for presentations or tutorials on Pro/Program, Layouts, etc.

-Brian Adkins
The question you pose is a difficult one to answer. Only you know how many components you will have in one assembly versus multiple configurations. Only you know the limitations of your hardware. As an example, someone within our company created a very large assembly. Their hardware could handle it just fine. We have seats where the assembly cannot be called up.

Family tables only say for a certain assembly number you only want to see certain components. Family tables can become quite complicated dependant upon the number of variables you have. You can make drawings from Simplified Reps as well.

At one point in time, I thought a Master Assembly Model was the way to go, swapping components in and out of Simplified Reps. The more components you have assembled, the more apt to have component assembly failure in the future because of changing geometry of parts/assy's. I now create seperate layouts for each project I have. I just copy what I know to be a good assembly from the past, remove components and add the new components.

I also sense you were asking about doing a Master Assembly and creating all of your Subassembly drawings from the Master. I would not go that route and would create the subassemblies seperately and assemble them in the Master Assembly.
Thanks, Don. The main problem I see with doing it the old way (my old way, which is to have seperate module drawings with seperate BOM's) is that I would have several assy's with the exact same component in it. For example: The main structure member is called a 'column'. This column is used in a frame module and is on the frame modules BOM. Also, this column is used in a hydraulic module, but as a reference part (not on the BOM) to show how the hydraulics are installed to the frame.

As I see it and how I think I understand what's been said to me today, I should be able to create these seperate modules, using the old way, and make simplified reps of just the components on the BOM's to be installed in an upper master assembly.

I'm just afraid that if I use the mater model assy, it will be more confusing in the long run.

Steve C
For Steve: In Pro/E, your different configurations are called instances of the family table. You won't find any information on configurations per se.

Regarding BOM's, one great improvement in Wildfire is the ability to create a BOM using a Repeat Region to document the assembly, and specify using the Column/Rep functionality (IIRC) which instance you want to use for component quantities. Did that make any sense?

Interchange Assemblies are another tool you can use to swap out one component for another using the Replace functionality.

David Martin

Torgon Industries
I'm not sure I understood the original question but I'd definitely stay away from trying to use a family table to configure all of your different designs. Use family tables to define parts (or simple subassys) that have different configurations but stay away from having the finished product as a member of a family table.

If you're making use of family tables it's critical that you use some type of PDM product. I'm only experienced with Intralink but any PDM software will likely have the same issue. That is you will find yourself unable to modify the member of a family table unless you've checked out all the instances to your workspace. That means you'd be checking out your entire data base every time you want to make a change.

There are lots of cool modules for managing assemblies that we don't have. With just the Foundation II (Foundation Advantage in WF) family tables are a god send in providing interchangable parts and in creating different configurations by just editing a parameter (like say length). However it's easy to get carried away and find yourself wrapped around the axel so tight you cann't move.

If I understand your original question it was how to create similar assemblies without having to redo much of the work, especially the detail drawings. My suggestion would be to use the copy object option in Intralink and check include drawings. Then just modify the new assembly as required and all the drawings should only require minor clean-up. At least it should be minor if the BOM and title blocks are all referenced to model parameters.

Bernie Hayden