Product frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- Product evaluation
- Licensing & purchase
- Legacy data import
- Integration with CAD and ERP/MRP systems
- Configuration and best practices
- Training for administrators and users
- Maintenance, support and updates (MSU)
- Can I see a product demonstration before I start my evaluation?
- Yes, you can view introductory videos on our website. In the US, Canada and India, you can also request a live demonstration via web meeting software and your browser.
- OK, I'm ready to try out PDXpert software. How do I start?
- Download the PDXpert Application Server (which includes the Microsoft SQL Server Express Edition database engine) and the PDXpert client software. We'll send you an email with links to our download page. Advanced technical considerations can be reviewed in the PDXpert PLM Installation Guide.
- What's the best approach for evaluating PDXpert PLM software?
- We have created the PDXpert PLM Evaluation Guide, which is a very detailed step-by-step procedure for creating a few parts and a simple bill of materials (BOM), and then releasing these using a change form. (This information is also available in a downloadable PDF.) Other tutorials describe how to set up part numbering and change workflow. After you have a basic working knowledge, the extensive help system can guide you (press F1 on any PDXpert window, also available on-line), and we offer personal configuration assistance to meet your specific needs.
- I want to compare PDXpert PLM to another PLM solution. How do I get started?
- You need only three things: (1) the PDXpert PLM application, (2) the alternative PLM product, and (3) an understanding of how your engineering and production processes will be defined. Getting a free copy of PDXpert PLM is easy: just download it from this website. Which of the other two is more challenging depends upon the evaluation policies of the other PLM supplier, and whether there's general agreement within your company on what PLM practices you want to adopt.
- We suggest that you download and install PDXpert PLM now, and model your proposed PLM configuration for your colleagues. When everyone's satisfied with your new PLM process, configure it in the other solution, and compare the results.
- Can I run the evaluation as a multi-user system?
- Yes. We want you (and your colleagues) to fully evaluate the software as you'd actually use it. Since the actual production software is installed for your evaluation, you can add or remove user accounts to allow all of your colleagues to try PDXpert before you buy.
- How long is the trial period? Do I lose all my data when this period expires?
- The evaluation period expires 21 days after you enter the first part, document or change into the PDXpert PLM database. You'll be asked to provide a license registration key at the expiration, but your data will remain intact. All previously-entered data will again be available after you enter the license registration key.
- I may need more than 21 days to evaluate PDXpert PLM. How do I extend the trial period?
- The 3-week evaluation period won't start until you enter a part, document or change into the PDXpert system. This allows you to take as long as you want to set up the system rules and collections to model your development and production environment.
- We suggest that, just prior to entering your first part or document, you take a backup of the configured database. This will allow you to restart the evaluation if you decide to change your configuration design or if the evaluation period expires before you finish your assessment.
- If you've invested significant time in creating items that you want to use in production, and need a bit more time to complete your evaluation, simply contact us for an extension.
- How long does it take to install the PDXpert PLM system?
- About 15 to 30 minutes if you follow the recommended system requirements and accept the default configuration. Of the major installation components (Microsoft .NET, the SQL Server Express Edition database server, PDXpert Application Server, and PDXpert client), only the Microsoft components take significant time; PDXpert itself only takes a couple of minutes. Fortunately, PDXpert installs all of these components for you, so it's quite simple.
- Can I run PDXpert PLM to a remote location over the Internet?
- Yes, using the server's client via Remote Desktop (RDP) or the remote computer's client on a virtual private network (VPN). For VPN, you'll install a PDXpert PLM client onto the remote computer. Unlike browser-based systems, PDXpert's client performance is enhanced with significant intelligent caching. Engineering data is large and complex, so users will always benefit from higher bandwidth.
Licensing & purchase.
- I have 12 people who'll need to access the PLM system. How many licenses do I need?
- You'll need twelve licenses, which can be any combination of full-function and read-only accounts. PDXpert is licensed by named user: each person who is assigned a log-in username and password needs one license. The system doesn't support concurrent or floating licenses.
- What's the difference between a full-function and read-only license?
- A full-function user account permits users to create new part, document and change records; add file attachments to the system library; review, comment on, and approve change forms; and configure the system through the administrator role. You can easily select (and change) which permissions are applied to each user account.
- A read-only account allows a user to view, report and export existing records and files, but not create, edit or approve data. The RO account supports a single computer connection; logging into one computer will disconnect any others using the same account.
- Do I need special licenses for administrators or approvers? What about the server?
- Each full-function license can support whatever permissions you want to assign to the account: guest, normal user, approver, analyst, administrator or any combination. The server license is bundled into the cost of the system, so there's nothing extra to buy.
- Do I need to buy a database license?
- PDXpert relies on Microsoft SQL Server for database services, and the PDXpert server installer will, by default, install the free SQL Server Express edition. SQL Server Express is quite capable for smaller systems, but we think you'll need to purchase a license from Microsoft for a higher performamce edition after you get beyond about 10 to 20 users.
- Can I re-assign a license when someone no longer needs access to the system or leaves the company?
- Yes. Whenever you wish, you can delete one person's log-in account and reassign that account to a different person. You don't have to let us know when you reassign the licenses you've purchased.
- I've decided to buy, and want to continue using PDXpert PLM while my company processes your invoice. Can you send me a license immediately?
- Yes. We usually issue a temporary license within a few hours after receipt of your purchase order. After we receive your payment, we'll send you the final perpetual or subscription license.
Legacy data import.
- Can existing part and assembly data be imported from my purchasing and manufacturing ERP system into the PDXpert PLM database?
- Yes, there are two basic approaches.
- PDXpert 7.0 (and later) can import part/document lists, bills of materials, qualified supplier part lists, and file attachments using the built-in External Data Importer utility. (Release 7.2 adds the ability to import part substances and custom attributes.) Simply copy your data into the spreadsheet formats as described in our help file, and follow the import instructions.
- We can also perform these steps - and much more - for you. If you have complex data, need to recreate complete item histories, or want to migrate your data from another PLM system, we can help. The extracted data should be in a reasonably standard format, either as a native database backup or something like CSV. We typically quote the work on a per-day basis, but will also consider a fixed-cost project bid if the conversion/import appears straight-forward.
- Can existing part and assembly data be imported from Microsoft Access and Excel into the PDXpert PLM database?
- Yes, you can reformat this data for the External Data Importer, or we can import your product data for you. We'll first need some sample files to understand how your data maps to the PDXpert PLM data attributes. To minimize the cost of conversions, all of your data should be accurate and the format should be consistent. Otherwise, we can do some manual pre-processing at additional cost.
- I have all of my technical files in a library directory on my department server. How do these get imported into PDXpert PLM?
- Using either the External Data Exporter or our services, your files can be attached to the items in the PDXpert database. We've developed tools for extracting useful data from file titles and contents. All files managed by PDXpert PLM will be renamed and copied into the library folder, and then tied to the related part or document. To do this accurately, there must be a predictable relationship between the library file and its related item record.
- We're moving from a more expensive PLM system to PDXpert PLM. How do we prepare our existing data?
- Your existing part, document and change information can be moved into PDXpert PLM with very good fidelity. Based on our previous experience, we can advise how data attributes and configuration settings are mapped between PLM systems. Since each PLM system's change workflow is quite different, all in-process changes should be completed prior to moving. Contact us for more system-specific recommendations.
Integration with CAD and ERP/MRP systems.
- How can our CAD system look up part data within the PDXpert database?
- The PDXpert database provides database views that can be accessed via the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) standard. A CAD application that supports ODBC queries can access PDXpert's part database. In addition, parts within PDXpert can be assigned custom attributes that support specific requirements, such as schematic symbols, part attribute values, layout footprints, etc.
- Will PDXpert import bills of materials from our CAD system?
- Most CAD applications can export a bill of materials in a structured text file (CSV, XML, XLS, etc.). PDXpert uses a special XML file, called a Data Transformation (DT), to interpret and recreate the BOM within the product structure. The PDXpert system includes a standard BOM importer, and new custom DTs can be added. Although you can create your own Data Transformations using standard XML authoring tools, we can easily create the DT for you at a very reasonable cost.
- Can PDXpert's data be exported into our ERP/MRP system?
- PDXpert offers three methods for moving part, BOM and qualified supplier data into downstream systems such as ERP/MRP. PDXpert's Data Transformation facility can export data into the ERP/MRP system's preferred import format. Your ERP/MRP may use an ODBC connection to make real-time part, BOM, supplier and change queries against the PDXpert database. In addition, PDXpert exports industry-standard IPC-2571 ("PDX") packages, and we publish a free PDX viewer that your supply chain partners can use to view/extract/import your part, BOM supplier and file data.
- Can PDXpert's part costs be updated using part data from our ERP/MRP?
- Yes, the External Data Importer tool can import bulk updates to item attributes, including part costs.
Configuration and best practices.
- Is factory assistance available to help configure our PDXpert PLM system?
- Yes. Our support includes a detailed installation guide, a pre-configured "starter" database, and advice via phone, email or web meeting. If you wish, we can even "visit" your computer via our PDXpert TeamViewer widget to help you configure your system. It's also quite cost-effective to exchange configuration data (or even complete databases) via email or FTP. We've used these tools often
- Can I get on-site assistance to configure our PDXpert PLM system?
- Sure. While we're happy to provide configuration advice via telephone or email, you may find it's more efficient to have us visit your site for interviewing stakeholders, investigating current practices and configuring your solution. We charge a per-day fee for configuration activities; all travel expenses must be pre-paid. Please contact us for details.
- Can I use my own part, document and change numbering and revision formats? Do I have to start my item numbers from a specific place, or can I continue my current sequence?
- PDXpert PLM has very flexible numbering and revision capabilities. It can accommodate most of the common approaches for automatic numbering, including category-based prefixes (e.g., resistors are RES-??????) and iteration suffixes (e.g., ??????-001), or both (RES-??????-001). The sequential value can be defined to begin at any point, and can include both letters and numbers.
- Who decides what "PLM best practices" are, and does PDXpert PLM require me to use them?
- Many people don't realize that the formal engineering discipline called "configuration management" has been evolving since the 1960s. Although you're welcome to take advantage of our configuration management expertise (including our professional certification), you will have complete control over which practices you adopt. Many best practices are offered in the configuration sections of the PDXpert PLM help file.
- There are only a few best practices that are hard-coded into PDXpert PLM. The principal one is that items with the same item identifier (e.g., part number) are fully interchangeable between revisions. This allows PDXpert PLM to always display the latest item revision on a BOM without requiring a formal change to the structure.
Training for administrators and users.
- How do I get training?
- The most common method is to view the on-line tutorials, go through the step-by-step evaluation procedure, and read the "How to" sections of the help file. These materials are freely available before your purchase, so you can judge whether the software will be a good fit for your organization. In many countries, we can also set up a live training session via web meeting software.
- Can I get on-site training for my administrators and users?
- Although most customers find the web-based training sufficient, we can visit your facility for training. This is typically customized for your company's environment, and therefore we suggest that we begin training only after the PLM system has been configured and the database has been populated with your data. You may wish us to help with these activities, as well, so it may be most efficient to combine on-site configuration and administrator training, followed by user training.
Maintenance, support and updates (MSU).
- Am I obligated to purchase maintenance, support and updates (MSU) with my software license?
- If you're buying a perpetual license, you have the option of declining maintenance, support and update services. This gives you the permanent right to use your original PDXpert PLM software, but your license key will not work with updated software releases containing new features and improvements, and telephone and email product support is limited.
- We recommend buying MSU with your initial perpetual license, and using your support and update experience to assess the utility of subsequent annual MSU purchases.
- Subscription licenses always include MSU.
- I purchased a perpetual license without MSU. Can I upgrade to the most recent release?
- Yes, if you have a perpetual license, there are two paths to acquiring upgrades. The typical path would be to purchase a new MSU license for the perpetual licenses you currently have. Since upgrades require that you be current on MSU, the amount you'll owe will depend on how long you have been without MSU. If you've been without MSU for several years, we offer discounts based on the date of your last purchase, and can help you choose the most economical alternative.
- How often is PDXpert PLM updated?
- We publish new releases several times annually. A major release would add notable new user and/or administrative capabilities. Minor releases refine existing functions, address customer requests and enhance product performance.
- Can I request new product features?
- Absolutely! Most of our product enhancements are a direct result of feedback from our customers.
Creating a BOM & Processing an ECN