G.A.L. Manufacturing Elevates Document Management to a New LevelCase Study
GAL Manufacturing Corporation is an electromechanical engineering manufacturing firm that makes all the parts, doors, and control systems that operate an elevator—virtually every component except the physical cab. Their customers include the world’s top elevator contractors and elevator manufacturers, including Schindler, Otis, ThyssenKrupp, and Kone.
Rexy Philips, Director of Information Business Technology for GAL, and his team have been instrumental in moving the company away from legacy systems to a modern framework. This structure encompasses everything from full disaster recovery systems across global multi-locations to document management systems. Says Philips,“My job is to find and build technologies that will allow the GAL group of companies (we call them the “Team of Excellence”) to advance in a manner which is truly aligned to business progression.”
Taking document management from the ground level up
In 2005, the company was eager to retire a legacy document management system and get a modern system. There were three business drivers to justify the investment:
- They needed to organize, maintain and historically track all changes to designs, documents and drawings.
- They needed an integrated way to “keep the sanity” between the designers and their CAD drawing engines and the lifecycle of their documents.
- At a higher value level, they needed a way to share, collaborate, and work among multiple horizontal and vertical teams.
- They also needed API tool kits which could reference to external ERP and INTRANET systems.
Based on their experience with document management, Philips knew what they needed in an upgrade:
- Speed in performance
- Tight integration with AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor
- Ease of use for engineers
- A thin foot print on the user desktop
The evaluation process took them a few months before they selected Synergis Software’s Adept. According to Philips, most of the systems they evaluated were missing two critical components: true integration with Autodesk products and ease of use.
“Keeping a historical record of all the documents in one place ensures us that everything engineering makes is documented by versions,” states Philips. “With multiple teams working on a project, it can be very difficult for a group leader to know what is going on with every aspect of the project. So that is the key benefit of using Adept as a document repository–we have everything in one place and everybody knows the latest versions.”
Keeping the sanity between designers and their documents
“In our engineering departments, life revolves around Autodesk Products, primarily Inventor & AutoCAD,” says Philips. “They design and create assemblies. They share assemblies, sub-assemblies, parts & drawings.”
For Philips, the tighter the integration between the document management system and the CAD drawing engine, the faster and more accurate the response time will be for the entire value chain. “For engineering, it is critical that the document management system work seamlessly with the drawing system,” explains Phillips. “It should effortlessly take the data from the assembly and push it into the document management system. The primary goal for all team members is to participate in the change process actively and more intelligently.”
Philips also wanted to make sure that the system they used was able to keep pace with the newest releases of AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor. “We want to work with a vendor who keeps pace when Autodesk comes out with a new release. We do not want to stop our work because our document management system doesn’t support a newer version of our CAD system.”
Another key reason for choosing Adept was its ease of use. “We did not want to burden the user just because we implemented a new system,” remarks Philips. “In a corporate environment, where there are people who have been working for so many years, they want something that works—and works fast. We thought Adept was a perfect fit and that we could grow with it and use it more and more.”
Adept also had a much thinner footprint on the user’s workstation than their previous system. “One of my key initiatives is that I want the thinnest client possible, “says Philips. “The soft cost of maintaining a user is something that people do not realize. The thicker the client, the higher the soft cost.”
Document Management takes a vertical ride up the enterprise
When GAL first started using Adept, it was used in engineering to manage, track and secure CAD software and all the file relationships between assemblies, parts, and drawings.
“The engineering users change things frequently,” states Philips. “The advantage with Adept is that it keeps track of everything the engineers change. Whatever is in Adept is a certified version—whether it is a minor revision or a major revision.”
According to Philips, since implementing Adept, everybody’s life is easier. “Adept has made us better at managing all design and work documents. Because the revisions and versions are kept in a vault, we know these drawings are ‘certified’. We also do not worry about keeping physical copies of our drawings. We know they are in Adept and if we need a print, we print out a hard copy on demand.”
Adept’s use has further expanded into sales and manufacturing. “The sales people do not even know what a drawing means,” observes Philips. “All the sales & customer service personnel people want to know is when they place an order, engineering designs something and from there it goes to the manufacturing process.” Beyond sales and marketing, there was also a need for engineering drawings to be on the manufacturing floor.
“We create DXF’s in engineering and store the files in Adept,” remarks Philips. “Someone takes that information from Adept and routes it to a machine program to make an NC file. That file is then pushed into the machine which starts automatically fabricating/cutting.”
An insurance policy for documents
When asked about the return on investment in document management, Philips likens Adept to an insurance policy for the company’s documents. “I think if you want to understand the return on investment in Adept, you have to take it out of the system for six months. When you have something, you really do not know what the savings are until you do not have it. It is like an insurance policy for our documents and our intellectual property.”