SOLIDWORKS Electrical: Update and Replace Part Data

By Joe McDiarmid
Technological innovation is a never ending process of iterative design. The products we use evolve and change, often incrementally and sometimes drastically, over time. This leaves the engineer with the normally tedious task of backtracking through old projects to update their part designs.

Typically an engineer may spend countless hours manually reviewing and updating previous projects every time a new part is released. In SOLIDWORKS Electrical, you can reduce this tedious process to a rapid workflow that only takes a few minutes. Update and replace part data using one of two tools: the “Update data” tool or the “Replace data” tool, both located under the Process Tab as illustrated below.

Replace Part Data - SOLIDWORKS Electrical

Suppose the project has a large number of identical components and it’s your job to ensure that each component in the system has the correct manufacturer information. Unfortunately, in the time since the original project was put together, some of the components manufacturer’s information has changed. For instance, the latest version of a component in the system has additional circuits you can utilize to reduce the number of overall components and simplify the design. One way to update the project to reflect such a change would be to go into the symbol’s properties and modify each component individually.  This method only works for a very small number of components and situations, and even then is still tedious.

Replace Part Data - SOLIDWORKS Electrical

A much faster method would leverage the “Update Data” tool.  Simply open up the part properties of the component in question and make the changes and save the part.  When prompted, chose to update the catalog, as shown at left. Now click on the “Update Data” tool, click “next”, and check the box next to “Manufacturer Parts” as shown at right.

Replace Part Data - SOLIDWORKS Electrical

Clicking “next” one more time brings us to the following screen. Replace Part Data - SOLIDWORKS Electrical

Presented on this screen are a couple of interesting things to note. First, all of the parts with manufacturing information that differs from the database will be presented here. Additionally, the total number of instances and the number of instances that have different information for each part are displayed. Clicking on the state field takes us to the error report. This particular error is letting us know that the circuit count doesn't match. We wanted to add circuit information to the manufacturer part, so we can safely ignore this error and close the report. Checking the box beneath the “select” column and clicking “finish” will complete the process and force all of the components you selected to update all the instances of the part in the project.

instead of correcting manufacturer data

If the task was to add a new part entirely instead of correcting manufacturer data, the workflow would be very similar. Open the “Manufacturer Parts Manager” and choose a part most similar to the one being created, if the new part is simply a revision of the old one. Click on the part from the list to highlight it and click “Add Part”. By highlighting the component first, the old part information will automatically populate the property fields of the new part being created, such as the class. This is a nice time saving trick but not necessary if the new part is completely different. Make the required changes for the new part in the property fields and click “save”. Now, when looking at the “Manufacturer Parts Manager”, the new version also shows up.

instead of correcting manufacturer data

Clicking on “Replace Data” will present a similar screen to the update tool. Clicking “next”, selecting the type of part to replace, and then clicking “next” one more time will get to this screen:

instead of correcting manufacturer data

From here, it is just a simple matter of clicking on the “Part (Replaced by)” field, and selecting the part that was just created. Check the “select” box and finish. Like a case of what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”, all 12 of the pre-existing instances of this part have been re-associated with the new part that was just created. The next time that a large number of components need to be updated or fixed, remember the “Update” or “Replace” tools in SOLIDWORKS Electrical to quickly and easily make all of the required changes at once. Interested in learning more about SOLIDWORKS Electrical? Check out a Hands-on Test Drive at an office location near you, or watch a video tutorial on our website.

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