Make it do what you need . . .

    "When implementing a document management system, carefully consider the people who all of your processes will affect.  Also consider as many "administrative" tasks as you currently perform and make AutoEDMS perform them for you and your employees."

    Keith S. Hasenfratz
    Design Leader
    ABB Flexible Automation
    Paint Finishing Group

ABB Flexible Automation is the world's leading manufacturer of flexible automation equipment and systems, paint application systems and customer services. One way ABB maintains their competitive edge is by combining their knowledge of the markets and using the latest technology, such as AutoEDMS, to provide their customers not simply with a product, or a system, but with greater competitiveness.

The Paint Automation Group of ABB Flexible Automation is a worldwide, full service supplier of paint finishing equipment and systems. Products include pre-treatment, prime and topcoat lines, application equipment and robotics, spray booths, ovens and environmental compliance systems. The Paint Automation Group serves virtually every major industry including transportation, heavy trucks, farm and construction equipment, aerospace, plastics and a wide range of general industry.


We purchased 45 seats of AutoEDMS in 1997 and are currently using all 45 licenses. As ABB's growth continues, that number will also grow. Two other ABB sites have implemented AutoEDMS with another two sites about to do the same. AutoEDMS manages AutoCAD drawings, and transmittals (Excel spreadsheets). In the future, it will manage SolidWorks and Word. As ABB supplies to many companies, including the "Big 3", we track a lot of information which could be neatly organized electronically without the horrendous paper trail currently associated with documenting; layering standards, titleblocks, scopes of work, job specifications, transmittals and reporting. Eventually, AutoEDMS will track its own customized ACL programs, Forms and toolbars.

Before AutoEDMS, ABB utilized a custom data management system. The system, an ADS program running inside AutoCAD, and based on a dBase database, could track only AutoCAD files and corrupted easily whenever the server or a user workstation crashed. Consequently, we would repair the database at least once a week.

After migrating to Release 13 of AutoCAD, our old document management system functioned partially, at best. Although the system was integrated with AutoCAD, the two didn't communicate with one another. Changing drawing titleblock information meant the designer/detailer changed not only the titleblock in AutoCAD, but also the corresponding information in the data manager as well. Unfortunately, the record database often didn't reflect what was actually in the job.

Prior to AutoEDMS, when management ran reports, or the document control department issued transmittals, the document management system wasn't much help. When drawings were ready for fabrication, the files were copied and then renamed to the appropriate directories using a DOS command or Windows Explorer.

Today, AutoEDMS automates many administrative tasks for the design crew. Now, for example, designers enter titleblock information in one location, in the database, then punch the database information directly into the AutoCAD drawing. AutoEDMS now generates reports and transmittals directly. While generating transmittals, AutoEDMS simultaneously copies the files, and populates a transmittal database.

Since AutoEDMS replaced an out-dated system, we have not calculated a ROI. However, we were determined to find a document management system which provided more functionality, and not just additional steps for designers to perform. We also felt we needed something more than just revision and archival control for AutoCAD files. We found AutoEDMS filled those needs.

For example, ABB typically provides its customers a drawing index sheet as the first page of the drawing package. This is a tedious task, usually involving printing all the drawings in the package, and then by hand, creating the index sheet. We felt the document management system should provide us with this type of functionality.

With the AutoEDMS ACL language, we were able to create a drawing index routine. The first designer to use the drawing index routine, worked Saturday solely to create those indexes. We expected the process to take all weekend. Twenty minutes later, as he was leaving, he exclaimed, "Cool, I just did three days worth of work in twenty minutes - I'm outta here!"

We were also able to automate our transmittal process using the ACL language. The transmittal process use to be a good an hour to an hour job of entering the transmittal information into Excel by hand, plotting the drawings, and then if they were to be sent to our layout department, physically copying the drawing files to a layout directory, and then renaming the files. This now has been reduced to a 5 to 10 minute job at the most (and this time includes physically walking the plotted drawings out to the layout department if required).

When drawings were provided to a customer on CD, this was also a tedious task of carefully selecting the drawings in Windows Explorer, and then copying the files to a local drive, and then creating the CD. The old data manager provided revision control, but did nothing with the old file copies.

Subsequently selecting the files for the CD meant sifting through all the old revisions and making sure you had selected the latest revision.  The only CD inserts were created by the CD creation program and only provided file names on the jacket, unless you had time to create the jacket by hand - and with some 100 to 1500 drawings, this was far too time consuming to even be considered.

Today, AutoEDMS duplicates the directory structure on a local hard drive, where the CD burner is located, populates an Excel document with the project name and description. AutoEDMS continues adding drawing filenames, numbers, revisions and descriptions to the spreadsheet.  The transmittal document is then placed in the jewel case as quick reference. Since AutoEDMS drives the whole process, we're always assured we have the latest and greatest revisions. Although we don't create drawing indexes, CD's or transmittals every day, these are the sort of "return-on-investments" we were looking for when it came time to replace our old data manager.

When implementing a document management system, carefully consider the people who all of your processes will affect. Even though the document control department was part of the original implementation plan, they have seen some of the biggest benefits of AutoEDMS. Now, the purchasing department feels they may have a need for AutoEDMS as well. Also consider as many "administrative" tasks as you currently perform and make AutoEDMS perform them for you and your employees. Finally, utilizing ACS Software's expertise was a tremendous help in getting us going and helping us expand our system.

 

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