SolidWorks has so many different features that can improve productivity, sometimes some of those features get forgotten about during the day-to-day rigor of design. Mate references is one of those features that I believe is grossly under used, but has the capability to greatly improve productivity with just a little bit extra up front work. Almost every company has a library of purchased parts that they use time and time again. The mate reference feature is great for these kind of parts because they are normally used in the same context every time. The beauty in mate references is that you can define the few different types of mates that these components normally use and then they can be popped into place without any work at all. So let's see practically how this could be applied to your companies parts...\
We will use the below bushing as an example of a part your company could use in multiple designs.
Generally, parts like these are kept in a design library for quick access through the SolidWorks task pane. This allows these commonly used parts to be at your fingertips at all times!
Parts kept in the design library are great candidates for mate references because they can be easily drug from the library into your assembly and snapped into place! Let's take a look at our example bearing to see how mate references can be applied.
Mate references allow you to select a face, edge, plane, etc. that you want to be mated automatically. The feature allows for three possibilities (primary, secondary, tertiary). When the part is drug into the assembly, based on the position of your cursor, it will see if the primary mate type is applicable. If it's not, it will go to the secondary and subsequently the tertiary type. These mate references are not required either. If your application happens to be a special case, you can simply drop the part out in space and mate it however you like. There really isn't any reason not to apply this feature!
When we drag in our example bearing, since the edge shown above has been selected as a mate reference, it snaps into place when we hover over the hole we want it mated to.
The hole-in-pin application of mate references is a great time saver, but you can get creative in different ways with how you use mate references in your parts! A minute or two more up front work can save you hours of extra work down the road if you utilize the mate references functionality!