Initialize your PLM database

The External Data Importer tool allows you to initialize your new PLM system by importing existing document and part records.

If your data can't easily be represented in the standard import file formats, or if this import process seems a bit too complicated or time-consuming, then we can initialize your PDXpert system for you.

PDXpert allows you to import these records and relationships:

  1. All item master records, which include home organization parts and documents, as well as your partner organizations' parts and documents.
  2. The relationships between your assemblies and their bill of materials components.
  3. The relationships between your purchased parts and each approved manufacturing source for that part.
  4. The relationships between items and their supporting references.
  5. The revision files that should be attached to the item records' Revision lists, and copied into the file Library.
  6. The item files and web links that should be attached to item records' Item lists, and copied into the file Library.
  7. The materials used to formulate a part.
  8. The contact details (name, abbreviation, website, address, phone) of your partner organizations.
  9. A list of persons who are contacts or account users in your system.

Example data import

The PDXpert website has a more extensive import tutorial that includes downloadable CSV files and example file attachments. Search the web for PDXpert import tutorial.

Example LED circuit assembly

As an example, consider this assembly manufactured by our company, which we'll call "Demo Co." The assembly has 4 LEDs, purchased from a qualified source, that are added to a circuit board that Demo Co. has designed. Three files - an assembly drawing, the LED supplier's datasheet, and the bare circuit board fabrication drawing - are imported and attached to a part record.

The bill of materials has this assembly-component (parent-child) relationship:

  • Demo Co. 100003 (Assembly): Indicator assembly, status, red LED
    1. Demo Co. 100001 (Design): Circuit board, LED assembly - bare. Quantity = 1 each
    2. Demo Co. 100002 (Purchase): Red LED, clear lens. Quantity = 4 each

Our approved LED supplier source has a parent-child relationship between Demo Co.'s internal part and the supplier's part:

  • Demo Co. 100002 (Purchase): Red LED, clear lens. Quantity = 4 each
    • LEDtronics L200CWR3KF-30D (Manufacturer Source): LED, 5mm (T1-3/4) Standard Dome. Rank = 1

Each of the design files is related to a Demo Co. or supplier part record:

  • Demo Co. 100001 (Design): Circuit board, LED assembly - bare
    • D:\Drawing\100001-Rev-B-fabrication.grb
  • Demo Co. 100003 (Assembly): Indicator assembly, status, red LED
    • D:\Drawing\100003-Rev-A-assembly.dwg
  • LEDtronics L200CWR3KF-30D (Manufacturer Source): LED, 5mm (T1-3/4) Standard Dome
    • F:\Datasheet\LEDtronics-Dsdc0496.pdf

Based on this information, Demo Co's assembly is structured into these four files (assuming the item uniqueness system rule default values are OK):

ItemMaster.csv

Owner,Number,Type,Description

Demo Co.,100001,Design,"Circuit board, LED assembly - bare"

Demo Co.,100002,Purchase,"Red LED, clear lens"

Demo Co.,100003,Assembly,"Indicator assembly, status, red LED"

LEDtronics,L200CWR3KF-30D,Manufacturer Source,"LED, 5mm (T1-3/4) Standard Dome"

ListBOM.csv

Owner,Number,ChildOwner,ChildNumber,StructureQuantity

Demo Co., 100003,Demo Co., 100001,1

Demo Co., 100003,Demo Co., 100002,4

ListSources.csv

Owner,Number,ChildOwner,ChildNumber,SourceRank

Demo Co., 100003,LEDtronics,L200CWR3KF-30D,1

ListRevisionFiles.csv

Owner,Number,PathRevision

Demo Co., 100001,D:\Drawing\100001-Rev-B-fabrication.grb

Demo Co., 100003,D:\Drawing\100003-Rev-A-assembly.dwg

LEDtronics, L200CWR3KF-30D,F:\Datasheets\LEDtronics-Dsdc0496.pdf

Notice that all part master data for both Demo Co. and LEDtronics are imported on separate rows in one Item Master file. Relationships between these items are created when the BOM and source files are imported. Design and datasheet files are added to the existing records by importing ListRevisionFiles.csv.

We could also create document master records within ItemMaster.csv, assign the documents as part references using ListReferences.csv, and then assign the files to the document records using ListRevisionFiles.csv.

Obtaining the import file templates

Each import file template can be exported as a CSV file.

  1. Open the External Data Importer tool: Tools | External Data Importer...
  2. Select the appropriate format from the Item Type dropdown list.
  3. Click on the External Data Importer tool's Export button, and save the file.

When there is no data in the database, the exported files will contain a single row of column headers, as defined in the import file specification help topics.

When there's data already in the database, it is included in the export. Use this data to validate how PDXpert interpreted your import file. You can obtain a new copy of the import template by deleting the data, retaining only the first header row. You can also use the exported item master data as the basis for on-going updates of item properties (such as part cost).

Preparing your database and item master import file

Your data files must conform to the import file format specifications. The import process can assign default values and create new collection members "on the fly". To avoid data errors and make this task as efficient as possible, read the other help topics on importing data before using this procedure.

The External Data Importer can detect certain errors in your data, such as inappropriate data types. It cannot detect problems such as recursive (cyclic) BOM errors, assembly items assigned as children of component parts, or a part supplier with an inconsistently-spelled name. A careful inspection of import results is your best protection against incorrect data.

If you don't normally have access to the computer containing the PDXpert Application Server, it may be useful to install a copy of the PDXpert Application Server on your local computer. After you've performed these import tasks, you can move the final database and library .PDXZ file to your production server, and uninstall your local PDXpert Application Server.

  • Collect all of your item data into a single ItemMaster.csv file. Item data is everything that has a part or document number, from whatever source: home items and partner items; individual components, consumables, subassemblies and top assemblies.

  • Ensure that file headers are correct (use the Export templates).

  • Within PDXpert, enter or update any data that will remain constant throughout the import process. This would include, for example, entering the assigned software license registration key (if any), entering company name & abbreviation, and setting up user accounts.

  • If your items include custom attributes, create the Part Type or Document Type collection members as needed, and then define their custom attributes before importing the related items. If you're importing custom attributes that reference a custom collection, then all members of the collection must exist before your import.

General procedure for importing each file

  1. Load your data into the import template.
  2. On the External Data Importer tool, select the correct import format from the Import Type dropdown list.
  3. Click the Import button, and navigate to your import file. When you accept the file, its data is immediately loaded into the database.

ItemMaster data import and validation tasks

You should be the only user logged into the system when using the External Data Importer.

The evaluation software limits the number of items you can use without a license key. If you plan to import more than a few thousand items, request a software license key.

For each item row, you can leave many of the columns empty and use the External Data Importer's default assignments. Blank (empty) values are assigned as specified in the Item Master import format help topic's ItemMaster.csv format column definitions table.

Repeat these steps until your imported item master data is accurate and complete:

  1. Review and, if necessary, re-assign the default member of each collection used in the import file, as shown in the Data type column of the Item Master import format help topic. If the import file has a value that isn't yet a member of a current collection, and that value should be used as the default member for missing import values, create the missing member and set it as the collection default.

    You must specify a valid member for each item that doesn't use the default collection member.

  2. Compare the set of existing collection members to your import data, and edit any mismatched data. For example, if your import data uses the abbreviation EA for each, decide which you want to retain, and then edit the ItemMaster.csv file or modify the PDXpert collection member name.

  3. Back up your database. This is the baseline dataset that can later be restored if you're dissatisfied with the subsequent data import.

    See the PDXpert Application Server > How to... > Back up the database help topic.

  4. Import your ItemMaster.csv file containing parts and/or documents that are owned by your organization as well as those owned by partner organizations.

    Review the status results to identify (a) the collection members that were created, (b) which items were assigned default collection members, and (c) which rows were not imported.

    Examine the collections to ensure that any newly-created members are correct. In particular, look for "almost duplicate" collection members. If an imported value has minor variations or errors (like each, EA, eahc), these will appear as separate entries in your collection. Modify your file to eliminate all but the preferred item.

Until you have a final "almost perfect" imported dataset, it's usually easier to restore your database baseline backup, update your import file and/or PDXpert collections, and re-import the ItemMaster.csv file. See the PDXpert Application Server > How to... > Restore data from a backup help topic.

Import your items' relations, materials and file attachments

These files establish bill of materials, source and file relationship between items, and specify relationship properties. All items in these files are simply matched to document and part records already in the database, and do not create any new item records. Your import of the ItemMaster.csv data should be complete before importing the relational data files.

Items, not iterations, are matched. Your imported data establishes relationships between the pending iterations of matched items.

Before importing each of these files, take a backup of your database. If you're dissatisfied with the import, you can restore the backup and then edit and re-import the file.

For each parent item row, you can leave many of the columns empty and use the External Data Importer's default assignments. Blank (empty) values are assigned as specified in the relational import column definition tables (see help topics: BOM, references, sources, revision files, materials, item attachments and external links, organizations, persons, groups, custom collections).

BOM (bill of materials) file

The BOM import file identifies the parent-child (or assembly-component) relationship between two items in the PDXpert database, and assigns to this relationship a find-item number, quantity, unit of measure and other data. Before you can import the BOM file, both assembly parent and component child must have previously been imported or created.

Parent items and child items must only be parts. If you want to assign documents to a parent item, import the relationships using the ItemReferences.csv file.

If you override any of the default values, ensure that each set of assembly records have no duplicate Find numbers, that each Quantity is a positive number, and the Unit (if provided) is compatible with (and preferably identical to) the Default unit of measure selection on the child item's record.

Sources file

Each item-source (parent-child) pair can be assigned a relative preference, or rank, on the import row. Since an item in your PLM database can have more than one approved source, you can assign duplicate Rank values to interchangeable sources of a parent item.

Assign only child source parts to parent parts. A document record cannot be a source parent.

Files file

The file import has separate columns for item files, revision files, and external files. An item in your PLM database can have more than one file attached to any (or all) of these file lists.

Each listed file is copied from the location specified into the PDXpert library, and the file attributes are extracted, then listed on the item record's appropriate Files list.

An imported file attachment must be a fully-qualified folder and filename to a local drive or a network share. If the file is not found at the location specified, then no file attachment record is created.

Organizations and Persons files

If you create the supply chain partner organizations "on the fly" during the ItemMaster.csv import, you can update their contact details using the CollectionOrganizations.csv file. Or, you can import all your partners before you begin importing their item master records.

Similarly, you can create person records using the ItemMaster.csv file, and update them during a later import; or import complete person records in the CollectionPersons.csv file before importing the item masters.

Final tasks

After you've imported/updated all of your part and document data:

  1. Check that newly-created collection members have correct attributes. Your Sequences: Identifier collection should be updated to ensure that future item numbers won't conflict with your imported items' identifiers.

  2. Re-index the database: Tools | Index Status... and click the Re-index button.

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