I work within a small engineering team that looks after projects from 4 (soon to be 5) sites around the world. The team is frequently distributed across the several sites though sometimes gather at any one of the sites. We have Plant Design Suite Ultimate, Product Design Suite Ultimate and Vault Professional (all 2013 editions), plus subscription access to the 360 cloud service. We have a limited WAN between some but not all sites, so figured the 360 cloud service might be a good way of sharing drawings, unless there is a way of web enabling Vault Professional.
Most of our work is P&IDs and associated piping drawings, though we do have some mechanical, structural and layout drawings. We'd like the drawings for each site to be kept in site specific projects to keep the files together, however we might be working on drawings for one site while physically being at another site. The revision control of Vault looks handy for this situation (similarly Vault's ability to be scripted so that we can convert drawings to DWF or PDF on check in) I've read many things on this forum about ways to use Vault with Autocad P&ID, and most seem to include some sort of work around that seems somewhat cumbersome, especially given that in our case engineers on separate sites might be working on the same project simultaneously.
Can someone suggest a good workflow that keeps project file integrity, allows us to share drawing files and project definitions between sites and is easy to work with?
The suggestion I have had is that we create a project, copy all the project files and settings to each team member's PC and then copy drawings to the 360 cloud, with each team member pulling them down and putting them back up as required. I figure this would likely break should any team member have need to change the projSymbolStyle.dwg or other settings kept in the XMLs. Not entirely sure how we would then go about using the features of Vault in this scenario either? The upside of using 360 is that we could also use this from offsite should any team member be travelling.
Are we better off to invest in a proper WAN/VPN between between our sites (3 in Australia, one in US with possibilities of one in Europe and/or Japan) and have the project files all sit on a common server space we can all access with a single Vault server, or can we use the infrastructure we already have to make this work? The WAN solution sounds expensive & slow!
Any suggestions on how others are making this work would be much appreciated!
Typically, people use Vault to manage the drawing files (and sharing the project settings). The deal with Plant/P&ID is that you have to use SQL Server with your projects, otherwise, the databases are treated like any other file and you couldn't have multiple people working on the project.
In short, it's not a simple solution -> with distances like you are talking about you should replicate databases for best performance which will require a full license of SQL Server. That's the ideal solution.
On the other hand, one you get a project setup and sync'd, provided you have good enough communication, you could have people add drawings to the project while they are working on them, and then remove the drawing from the project and store it in a checkin/checkout location. The data is stored internally to the drawings, so the data would be added to someone's project whenever they added the drawing. Obviously there is a lot more room for error in this scenario, as it is up to the users to manage who is working on the latest drawing. You should test this scenario in your offices before using it in real life.