Innovative Steam Technologies Improves Design Documentation Process By 30% with Adept Document Management & WorkflowCase Study
When Innovative Steam Technologies takes on a project, hundreds of design drawings and documents are generated. Storing and tracking the paper and electronic files cost time and money. Now, Innovative Steam Technologies (IST) (www.otsg.com), based in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, has resolved the problems associated with tracking and storing these documents, and has achieved documentation workflow process improvements of 30% by implementing a document management system.
IST manufactures efficient, cost-effective Once Through Heat Recovery Steam Generators (OTSGs) for the industrial and power generation markets. The company supplies and installs heat recovery steam generators to independent power producers around the world.
The OTSG is IST’s solution to the limitations of traditional drum-type, heat recovery steam generators. The OTSG system converts feedwater into high-purity, superheated steam, and through the simplicity and versatility of the design achieves new levels of cost-effectiveness and performance, unmatched in the industry today.
To achieve the same measure of cost-effectiveness and savings, IST recognized the need for a more efficient and effective process to reduce the cost, space, and the time spent on accessing, managing, tracking and storing the documents related to every project. The solution needed to perform an entire range of functions, including document routing, approval, control, distribution, and storage.
IST’s management team selected a group of individuals at IST who were dedicated to define a document management process; the requirements of a system, and finding a solution. The solution had to be introduced virtually seamlessly into the existing environment, without interrupting IST’s tight daily schedule and operation. In early 1999, IST started a serious search for an document management system that would dramatically improve their internal design documentation processes.
Ease of Use and Implementation Determines IST’s Selection of Document Management Solutions
Ideally, in the infant stage, the system would manage and track AutoCAD files and revisions. In time it would manage other documents such as engineering design standards, files from a 3D modeling system, ISO documentation, engineering change request/orders, operation and maintenance manuals, and more. Additional requirements included the ability to track current document status and history; track externally transmitted drawings/documents; print reports; master document lists and associated engineering change records.
After extensive evaluations that included product demonstrations, meetings with vendors, and data migration testing, IST chose Adept document management & workflow software from Synergis Software. Helping with the search and implementation of this solution was Glenda Martin-Barnes, IST’s Contract Coordinator and administrator of Adept. According to Martin-Barnes, Adept had the required functionality and flexibility to simulate IST’s existing work environment; it didn’t require the purchase of any additional hardware to support it; and the cost of the software was compatible with their budget. Most notably, Adept allowed IST to manage the documents and keep full control of the document files.
“With Adept, there was no worry about the uncertainty of the software importing and encrypting our files. Also, Adept enabled us to maintain our existing file structure, which made the solution easier to implement,” explained Steve Kaufman, IST’s Technical Coordinator, who was also part of IST’s document management planning group.
Pre-Planning is Key to Document Management Success
IST’s EDM planning group knew that changing and/or implementing any new process required careful planning, and that implementing an EDM system would impact multiple people, processes and departments simultaneously.
To ensure a smooth transition, IST’s EDM group invested heavily in pre-planning before bringing Adept online. This planning included developing a written document that defined what was required to transition from a manual to an electronic system, designing Adept’s database; setting up file naming conventions, library/file structures, and a plan for migrating/linking IST’s existing data. Also, they tested Adept’s capabilities to make sure the software “did what the company wanted it to do.” The ultimate goal was to provide easy access to drawings and documentation through a consistent secure domain, as well as getting rid of the many storage cabinets.
IST’s biggest challenge was the process of migrating and linking multi-formats: electronic, hard copy, Windows and Unix-based legacy data and documents into Adept. With the help of Synergis Software’s data migration team, IST was able to capture and record data from its Unix database, import it into Adept’s database, link the legacy documents and records, and merge with the current record and drawing file. Also, IST scanned all the Unix-based drawings as well as outside vendor/supplierís drawings and linked the images to their respective database records.
Groups were set up with the applicable rights assigned for the required protection. With Adept, access was given to the users at their desktops, and the document status, ownership and location of a file is known.
All the pre-planning paid off. The transition to Adept was smooth and IST’s existing document process was transitioned to the EDM system with all the data in tact. Once the system was live, users were productively using it with less than one week of training.
Simplifying Workflow Processes and Document Distribution
With Adept up and running, IST is able to maintain a controlled working environment while managing documents inter-departmentally and with outside vendors and customers around the world. To start, IST uses Adept’s simple built-in workflow ‘create, assign and approve’ document process. In the workflow process, IST’s Document Control is the gatekeeper and has the sole rights for approving the final signed off documents into Adept’s checked libraries. After Document Control releases/approves a document into Adept, it is ready for publication and distribution.
Darlene Grimmer, IST’s Document Control Coordinator, was also involved the document management planning and implementation. “With the use of Adept’s property extraction to populate the data base, electronically filing and distributing the documentation, I saved a lot of manual labor and reduced the cost of supplies.”
Reaping the Rewards of an Automated System
“Before implementing Adept, it was time consuming to account for the vast amount of paper storage, copying, couriers, and faxes. In order to find and reference information, we experienced a great deal of paper shuffling while any one project was active. Then at the end of a project, we had to shuffle paper to make space for the new projects, which meant archiving the completed project documents to maintain a history,” explained Grimmer. “When a project was complete, we needed to archive drawings and documents and at the same time have access to them. Adept has solved this problem.”
Compiling an Operations and Maintenance Manual can be a huge time consuming task at the end of a project. On recent projects, IST is delivering their Operation and Maintenance Manual in electronic CD format. The process of compiling an Operation and Maintenance Manual involves bringing together various documents from various sources and formats. IST’s Document Control is currently able to compile the manual electronically as the project progresses, maintaining latest versions and revisions.
“With Adept, the process of compiling the documentation, maintaining the latest revisions and archiving of the documentation has been much less time consuming. We now have access to all the files in a coherent, reliable environment and estimate that now it takes us 30% less time to process drawings,” said Grimmer. “The cost, time and physical space for operating and maintaining paper storage and manual distribution has made Adept an invaluable investment.”
Leveraging Adept to Gain a Competitive Advantage
“In this industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to communicate and do business unless you have the electronic tools to do so. In this electronic age, data and documents move around, going anywhere, at any time, any number of times. Managing this is a serious job for our document control that must be done,” explained Martin-Barnes. “By using Adept and other electronic tools, we are able to deliver documents from a controlled environment to customers anywhere in the world within minutes. This gives us a significant competitive advantage.”