Review of Windchill PDMLink 9 Software
Windchill PDMLink version 9 is a product data management (PDM) tool by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC). It is used to store and manage documents, drawings, models and even software modules. I have worked with Windchill PDMLink as both as a super-user and IT tech support.
- There is no additional software to install or maintain for individual contributors to use Windchill. By using the website based functionality, your users are good to go as soon as their accounts are set up.
- If your drafters already use Pro/Engineer (Pro-E) by PTC, the thumbnail views work beautifully, automatically since PTC designed Windchill to store Pro/E models and drawings.
- Access control limits are tied to user accounts. Once the user logs in from their computer, they have full access.
- Windchill PDMLink includes a built in meeting application for those who want to use it instead of other online sessions. While it cannot access meeting tools and calendars outside of itself, if you don't have anything else, Windchill PDMLink will manage internal calendars, capture user discussions and store meeting minutes.
- Windchill includes the Productview tool to permit viewing of Pro/E drawings by those who do not have Pro/E.
- PDMLink Windchill permits users to quickly email a link to someone for review of a document, without using up network capacity emailing documents and drawings. This also improves security since the recipient cannot view the document or drawing without the appropriate permissions.
- When access controls are managed via groups in Windchill, permissions are put in place as soon as system groups are refreshed.
- Role assignments on libraries are easy to use, a matter of selecting members from drop down menus or entering their name.
- Windchill PDMLink can be integrated with Simplified Sign On and Directory services authentication, reducing the number of passwords users need to manage.
- Windchill relies heavily on standard Windows functional keys. Copy, cut and paste use relatively universal icons and functionality.
- Windchill includes change management functionality. If a company has both a document repository and a change management tool like Synergy or PleaseReview, these tools can be dropped in favor of Windchill.
- Because PDMLink Windchill is a website overlaying access to a database, it can accept migrations of multiple obsolete product data management tools into it.
The Cons of PDMLink 9.0
- Windchill PDMLink version 9.1 is highly Java dependent. If the computer has an obsolete version of Java or an incompatible version, Windchill PDMLink can prevent users from browsing to the file they need to select to upload and life cycle managers will not display properly. Java dependency is supposed to be fixed in later versions of Windchill but remains an issue in PDMLink 10.
- Windchill Desktop Integrator, if you download it, attempts to interject itself into every Microsoft Application you use, regardless of whether that specific document will be kept in Windchill.
- If agreement objects are used to manage access control limits, each agreement object must be managed as a separate object. This increases the work required to manage access control limits exponentially. Access to agreement objects must be managed in addition to the documents and drawings themselves. Agreement objects expire and require renewals or users lose access to items they otherwise have rights to access. A copied agreement objects may conflict with other access control limits for a Windchill product or library.
- The back button is often the user's enemy. Updating a document or drawing creates the next iteration. Checking in and out files and then selecting the back button can result in users editing the old iteration while the new iteration is incomplete. This is partially mitigated by user training. However, the notice on the document details page that there is a later iteration is not obvious and should be.
- Windchill does not currently have a product verification function to verify that the product as built and recorded as such by a Manufacturing Requirements Planning (MRP) system matches the structure in the Windchill system. Product verification can still be left in the hands of quality engineers and quality control.* Pop-up blockers, both built into web browsers and tool bars, can interfere with Windchill functions like status pop-ups, downloads and menu windows.
- PTC's knowledge base for Windchill support is very limited. Consultants from PTC are expensive.