Autodesk Inventor has inherent data included with every file called iProperties that aid in documentation and searching of files. Often times this data is needed for Bill of Material columns, Title Block automation or indexed Vault searches. However the realistic problem with iProperties is the human factor involving in the task of filling them out appropriately or consistently.
Lets say we have a few iProperties we need filled out for every drawing for our Title Blocks and Bills of Material. These can consist of standard iProperties as well as Custom ones we create since Inventor doesn't ship with the terminology or content we require for our documentation.
If these values do not get filled out we often spend time afterwards having to open files and fix them. In some cases draftsmen and engineers may take the short cut and override them or simply add text on the drawing. This is a horrible practice because it makes these values specials for the drawing they are in when that part may be used in 50 other assemblies. We certainly do not want that attitude in our design group because items will no longer update they way we intend them to and simple typo mistakes or incorrectly cross-referencing a file can lead to manufacturing mistakes and ordering of incorrect parts.
First let's see if your designs have problems right now. After we find out there is an issue we can fix them for legacy designs and put in safeguards so it doesn't happen again in the future. Open up a completed Assembly drawing of one of your designs with a Parts List on it. Edit the Parts List and take a look at what you see.
A little bit of blue text here is not a bad thing. If we need to specifiy overides for a part for a special case, then this blue text is okay. If we need to have the value be the same in every drawing where this part is referenced, then this is a VERY bad sign. To check what the actual iProperty value for a cell is, simply right click on the cell and toggle the Static Value option (iamge below). If it is blank, then the actual part or assembly file does not have the information saved in it. If the cell returns a value but not the right value then the problem could be worse than we thought.
Incorrect data can be more costly than adding an additional inch to an extrusion, due to incorrect ordering, frieght invovled with shipping and returning the items whether it be a purchased part or incorrect raw stock. We hope that our purchasing department see these mishaps before that happens, but even if they catch it in time, there is still downtime involved with the mistake and egg on your department's face.
With the blue overide in place it also makes it harder to search for that value in any other design using either Design Assistant or Autodesk Vault. Data that doesn't exist anywhere in the iProperties is not indexable and therefore not searchable.
Wednesday we will take a look at how to put the Band-Aid on the problem for your legacy designs, and on Friday I will show you how to setup the automation on the front end of your designs so this does not happen again. Let's stop throwing money away.