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Customizations and Upgrading Solid Edge

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
With the ST6 coming one thing is certain…changes are coming.  This next topic will discuss how to transition from ST4 to ST5 (and as well can be used for ST6 upgrades) in relation to the customizations in Solid Edge.
There are certain things that a CAD Administrator can set up for you and share amongst the masses.  If you do not have the luxury of a CAD Administrator, it is very worthwhile to have users share setups.  It would be best if there was only one person setting things up as this keeps everything to a standard.
Solid Edge can, quite easily, bring toolbar settings from version to version.  The toolbars can be re-used as it were.  Also to note is the fact that these customized toolbars can be deployed on a user specific basis as well as a base company template type setting.  For instance, a company standard toolbar customization could be deployed and the user would then be allowed to take it from there.  Every company has certain functions that vary from what SE sets up out of the box.  Companies vary as well.  Users vary even further.  It would be worthwhile to invest the time once to set up company templates and environment settings.  If you do it once, there would be years of savings moving forward.
The image below illustrates the settings you can set up and take with you from version to version.  Keyboard, Quick access, Ribbon, and Radial Menu options can all be set up.

Screenshot of "Customize" Menu

The next sessions we will discuss how to set up everything.  I always like to have the “Previous Window” (in Draft for this example).  These are the steps I would go through.  Open a draft file, although you can do this without opening a file.  Select the down arrow beside the QAT and go to “Customize the Ribbon”.
The following dialogue box opens:
Expand the “View” tab on the left and expand the “Home” tab on the right to look like the image below.
Have “Previous View” selected on the left and select “Window” from under the home tab on the right and then hit the “Add” button.  It should look like this:
Close the dialogue box and you should notice on your Home toolbar that the Previous View icon has been added.  You may be asked if you want to save this if you need to create a new theme or you could save it to an existing customization.
You can also right click and the following menu shows up allowing you to set the options for the new icon:
These settings are saved in the following locations in ST5:
Vista/Win 7:
C:\Users\”username”\AppData\Roaming\Unigraphics Solutions\Solid Edge\Version 105\Customization\
C:\Documents and Settings\”username”\Application Data\UnigraphicsSolutions\Solid Edge\Version 105\Customization\
Windows 7 shown below for reference:
These settings can be shared between different users and computers.  As you can see, each theme is in a different folder and each type of customization (QAT, Radial Menus, Ribbon, ect) is in a separate file.  Because it is external to the install directory of Solid Edge and is not in the registry these customizations traverse updates to the software version.

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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

A “Quicksheet” is a template of drawing views that are not linked to a model. You can then drag a model from the Library tab or from Windows Explorer onto the template, and the views populate with the model.  If you have standard views on a particular size of drawing, for example, you can have the Draft preconfigured to populate itself based on the model you place on the sheet.

You will to need to set up a Draft sheet (but do not use production drawing as the drafting information will be removed upon save) with your views and other items such as Parts Lists.

1. Go to the SE Application button

2. From the Application menu, choose the “Create Quicksheet Template” command.

3. Save the file to a location and give it a name that easily identifies it.  It is best to place this on a network area other users can get to if it is useful to share the Quicksheet.   It is also best to locate it in a similar area to where the company templates for SE reside.

* Almost all view properties, including general properties, text and color properties, and annotation properties, are maintained. However, some display properties, such as selected parts display, Show Fill Style, and Hidden Edge Style, are not maintained.

Now a Quicksheet template has been created, but how do we use it?

1. Open your Quicksheet template (either through Windows Explorer or if you set up your User Templates and placed the Quicksheets in that location hit New>Quicksheet> and select your Quicksheet).

2. Drag and drop your desired Part or Assy onto the sheet from Windows Explorer or through the Library tab in Solid Edge.

3. Solid Edge will place the geometry and will be ready for the next steps.

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Solid Edge University 2012 spotlights ST5

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Nashville, Tennessee, was the site of this year’s Solid Edge University convention. User’s got their first real look at ST5, which will be released next month. Dan Staples, Director of Solid Edge Product Development, introduced ST5 to a large and enthusiastic crowd. Now that the synchronous paradigm has been implemented, the focus seems to be on implementing as many user requests as possible.


The new functionality in ST5 benefits all users, whether they work in the ordered or synchronous paradigms. To see what’s new in ST5 visit the Solid Edge ST5 web page.

 After Dan’s presentation, users had a selection of breakout sessions that they could attend. These sessions included closer looks at what was new in ST5, sessions on how customers use Solid Edge, knowledge enhancements sessions, and round table sessions. The round table sessions allowed users to tell the planners and developers what improvements they liked and what else they’d like to see added to the software.

Our own John Pearson presented a session on the Draft environment and improving the speed of drawing creation in Solid Edge. John was amazed at how many users attended his session and extremely pleased at the number of users that approached him afterwards to thank him, and mention how much they had learned.


For those of you who were unable to attend John’s presentation, you can click here to download the PowerPoint and accompanying help documentation.

 John and Manny Marquez, from our Chicago office, were able to meet with many of our customers at the conference. The overall feeling around ST5 was very positive and users seemed genuinely excited about this release. We’d like to thank those users who attended the conference and we hope to see many more of our users at next year’s event.


Join us at Solid Edge University 2012

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Designfusion will be sending some of our technical team to the upcoming Solid Edge University 2012 event. We would like to invite all our customers and blog readers to join us there. We don’t want you to miss this unique event, jam packed with technical training and opportunities to meet and interact with the Solid Edge development team, technology partners, and fellow Solid Edge users from around the world.


Solid Edge University 2012 will be held June 11-13, 2012 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. For more information visit the Solid Edge University 2012 site.


John Pearson, a senior member of our technical team, will be presenting at one of the breakout sessions. Below is the information that will soon be posted on the Solid Edge University 2012 site. We hope you can join John, and some of our other team members, at this exciting event.


Breakout Session Title: “Making automating drawings more productive”

Abstract: This session will demonstrate techniques on how to automate your drawing production and improve your efficiency in the creation of drawings. New and experienced users will benefit from the techniques shown here. This will be especially beneficial to Managers and CAD administrators who are responsible for setting up drawing/draft templates and streamlining drawing production. Attendees will learn how to customize draft templates, use callouts to automatically populate title blocks, create and use Quicksheets, as well as a few unique commands to rapidly create and edit drawings. The presentation will consist of primarily live demonstrations.


John Pearson, a Technical Trainer and Application Specialist, has over 25 years experience working in the CAD/CAM industry. For the last 9 years he has worked for Designfusion, North America’s largest Solid Edge reseller, supporting Solid Edge and NX CAM. Prior to that he spent 16 years in the Tool and Die industry, where he used AutoCAD and Unigraphics/NX.  John is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has also achieved specialized certification in adult training as well as SETA application training certification.  John has also headed up some of the largest global implementations of Solid Edge, and has also developed a complete curriculum for some of Designfusion’s academic customers. He has taught evening CAD courses at a local College and taught Solid Edge around the world. He is also a major contributor to the Designfusion blog and provides a monthly Tech Tip article to the Design Engineering’s 3D Dojo newsletter. John is married with 3 daughters. He also has 2 dogs which help keep him sane.


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Is Training Worth It? – Calculate your Return On Investment

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In today’s competitive market, businesses are looking to get the most out of their employees, systems, software and machines. With the ever changing technology, this can be somewhat challenging.  Too often companies will invest in new technology but not invest in the training on the new technology. The most common reasons for this are:

  • - I don’t have the time to take the training.
  • - I can’t afford the cost of the training.
  • - I can train myself for free.
  • - I train one employee and he/she can train the rest.
  • - I have a high staff turn over and it’s not worth training them.

As a trainer I have heard all these excuses and more. They all essentially evolve around cost. Therefore, it is important that companies look at both the ROI of professional training and the cost of not taking professional training.

How to calculate the ROI of professional training

To calculate the ROI, you need to determine the total cost of the training course and compare it to the total financial benefit derived from the course. The cost of the course can be determined as shown below:

Cost of course                   = $ 2000

Salary of employee           =  $1000

Travel & Living Expenses  = $1000

Total cost of course           = $4000

The financial benefit derived from the course can be a little harder to determine and often depends on the individual. Below is a one potential example;

Suppose John Smith attends a course on a CAM software package. In this course he learns new and faster methods to create programs. Assuming a modest 10% increase in his program generation skills, we can start calculating the financial benefit. If John makes $25 per hour and he works 50 weeks a year week, allowing 2 weeks for vacation, the company pays him $50,000. If he works 10% faster the company’s immediate savings is 50,000 x 0.10 = $5000. We can also assume that John’s programs will be more efficient, saving machine time, cutter wear, and possibly less manual finishing work. His improved knowledge may also lead to fewer errors in the programs, resulting in less scrap. You may also want to consider any extra profits obtained by the increase efficiency. In other words John will be able to produce 10% more work from which the company will profit. So in John’s example we can calculate the financial benefit as follows:

Estimated savings from improved output                     = $ 5000

Estimated savings from downstream operations         = $ 2000

Estimated savings from reduced rework and scrap   = $ 1000

Estimated additional profit from improved efficiency    = $ 2500

Total financial benefit                                  = $ 10500

Using the following formula to calculate the ROI,

Net gain (total benefit-total costs) = ____ X 100 =____
  total costs  

we get an ROI of 162.5. Clearly this would justify John taking the course, especially when you consider that the financial benefit estimates are very conservative.

You can also view this from another direction. What is the company’s cost if an employee doesn’t take professional training?

Cost of not taking training

Let’s assume that you hire a new designer. This designer has CAD experience but does not know your CAD system. You hand him\her a manual or some tutorials and have him\her learn the system on their own. From the previous example we can assume that you are saving $4000 dollars in training. But how much are you really saving?

Although estimates vary on the topic of study, many agree that 1 hour of professional training could be equal to as many as 16 hours of teaching yourself. In other words you could spend up to 2 days reading, experimenting and learning a process that a professional trainer could teach you in 1 hour. If we extend this model we have one week of professional training = 16 weeks of self teaching. The cost to the company at $25 per hour is:

640 hours (16 weeks) x $25  =  $16,000

You also have to factor in the lost time in production for 15 of those 16 weeks that the new designer is not producing because the are still trying to learn the software. Any mistakes made through this process will also have a ripple effect throughout the company, costing more time and money. You also have to consider lost production time from any experienced employees who may be mentoring the new employee. If the experienced employee spends an average of 20% of his time helping the new employee you will lose one full week of man hours in every 5 weeks.

So for a conservative estimate, let’s assume that a new employee can learn the CAD package in 10 weeks with some assistance from experienced employees. Each week the new employee improves his/her output by 10% per week. The cost to the company can be calculated as follows:

Cost of no productive work over 10 weeks is:

  New Employee Experienced Employee
Week 1 1000 200
Week 2 900 200
Week 3 800 200
Week 4 700 200
Week 5 600 200
Week 6 500 200
Week 7 400 200
Week 8 300 200
Week 9 200 200
Week 10 100 200

Total cost of lost production  =     5500  +  2000 

                                                  =     7500 

Remember you still have to factor in the cost of fixing any training errors and the downstream effect of each error. If we assume a modest 5 errors, at an average cost of $500 per error, this results in:

Total cost of lost production = 10,000

Keep in mind that the cost could be much higher depending on the new employee’s ability to teach him/her self, and how many errors are made in the process.

Finally, you’ll have to wonder if the self taught employee has learnt the most efficient use of the software. With today’s software there are often several methods to achieve the same desired results. Each method has advantages and disadvantages depending on downstream factors. Too often self taught individuals find one method to solve a problem and use it, without further investigation to see if a more efficient way exists.  A good professional trainer will teach the different methods highlighting the situations where each method is most efficient.

Other excuses

Some companies have chosen to train one employee and have him/her train the others. They look at this as a cost savings to the company. Although this may appear to save you money you have to factor in the cost of using the first employee as your trainer. Every time he/she is training other employees, he/she is not producing work. Plus the assumption is being made that this employee has learned and retained the same knowledge as the professional trainer. This is often a false assumption, leaving the company paying almost a similar cost for a lower standard of training.

I’ve saved my favorite excuse for last. Some companies will not pay for professional training because they have too high of a staff turn around. It has been proven time and again that stress levels rise in adults when they have to learn something new. If you combine the stress for self teaching with the daily stress of the workplace, you may be contributing to the staff turn around. By providing professional training in a setting designed for learning, the employee will learn, without the work stress, and return to work with the proper skills.


When you actually take the time to do an honest, realistic cost analysis, it quickly becomes clear that sending your employees for professional training is a good investment.  The above examples are very conservative, yet they clearly show the advantage to professionally training your staff. Although it may be difficult to free up time and money to provide professional training, the cost of not doing so will be greater in the long term.

A well-trained employee is more likely to be satisfied with the company he\she works for, which in many cases means he\she will be less likely to leave to find a job elsewhere.  The payback is not just in a few months or a year. Instead, it can be a lifetime of service and reduced operating costs.

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Solid Edge University 2012 is here!

Friday, March 16th, 2012
Siemens PLM Software Solid Edge University
Meet the Solid Edge development team. Learn from the experts.
And experience the worldwide launch of Solid Edge ST5.


Keynote Added
John “Jay” Rogers, president, CEO and co-founder of Local Motors, will speak about Solid Edge and its key role in this new American car company. Local Motors is setting an exciting and sustainable course to design, manufacture, and sell cars for niche markets. Local Motors co-creates new purposeful vehicles and components with its community of 14,000 designers, engineers and enthusiasts using open source principals.

Optional Solid Edge developer day planned
Check out this one-day session prior to the official Solid Edge University. We plan special breakout sessions for both beginner and advanced programming.

  • Solid Edge customers — customize and increase productivity
  • Got or need an App? – Share or learn to build one, big or small
  • Third-party software developers — expand your footprint into the global Solid Edge community

Topics covered include automating Solid Edge, overview of the API, using Microsoft .NET, creating addins and apps, updates on the latest development tools for the new ST5 release, a roundtable discussion with the Solid Edge/Siemens development organization and more.

Tip: Be a speaker, get a free pass
Tip: 3 for 2 deal (Register 2, get 1 free)

Details and registration
See schedule, product showcase, information for sponsors, reasons to attend, call for papers … more

June 11-13
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Nashville, TN (USA)


Twitter Follow @SiemensPLM for more info, Event Hashtag #SEU12
Facebook Like the Solid Edge Facebook Page
Linkedin Let others know you’re attending, RSVP today!
Flickr See Event photos from last year
Blog Read more from the Siemens PLM Blog


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