California Utility Uses Adept Document Management to Improve Delivery of Electricity to More Than 97,000 Homes, Farms, Businesses, Industrial, and Municipal AccountsCase Study
Generating over 505 megawatts of electricity, the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) serves electricity to a population of approximately 220,000 people in California’s Central Valley. TID generates nearly 40 percent of the energy for their customers at the Don Pedro Dam and Powerhouse. A substantial amount of energy is generated at other District-owned facilities, including clean small hydroelectric power plants on irrigation canals and three natural gas-fired turbine generating plants.
The engineering and construction documentation to maintain and support these facilities is massive. Just ask Ed Jobe, Engineering document management administrator and a 20 year veteran at TID. Jobe is responsible for the systems that develop, track, find, retrieve, and secure all the utility’s documents throughout the district.
Managing CAD Documents is Critical to TID Services
According to Jobe, document control and management is critical to the success of the TID. “TID has operators that spend all day, every day doing CAD,” stated Jobe. “It’s extremely difficult to hire new personnel, so we need to take full advantage of tools like document management to make our personnel more efficient.”
TID is not new to document management software. The District was using both a corporate and engineering document management for several years. However, when their engineering system was discontinued, Jobe began looking for a replacement.
Explained Jobe, “We took about a year to perform an overall evaluation of software. First, we cut the list of prospective systems to only those vendors who could integrate well with AutoCAD-based products. We use AutoCAD Map, Autodesk Building Systems, as well as Autodesk Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing. We evaluated options from our current vendors and determined they were too expensive. Being a programmer, I wanted to be able to customize our system so it would work the way we do. Some other lower end candidates were inexpensive, but they didn’t include an API for customization. Adept does.”
Selecting the Right Tool for the Job
There were a number of reasons that TID chose Adept over competitive products. First, the user interface was practical and easy to use. “When you’re using software all day, a few seconds here and there adds up to a big savings throughout the day.”
Second, Synergis Software offered great support and access to all levels of the development organization. “I’ve met a lot of the Synergis Software people and they are very approachable. I can easily talk to the Vice President of Research and Development, Todd Cummings, a developer or a manager. They don’t ‘shoo you away or ignore your questions. To make the product work, it’s important to have access to people who develop it,” said Jobe. “With Synergis, I have their attention at all levels of the organization.”
Another reason for selecting Adept was the experience the company had with converting legacy data from other systems to Adept. “The Adept team has done this type of migration many times before, so it was fairly straight forward. They were easy to work with and delivered exactly what they promised, on time. The data was ready to go when Adept was scheduled to be implemented.”
Serving Documents to Different Groups with Unique Needs
At TID, there are many people who need access to documents, including supervisors, construction crews, and maintenance crews. For example, if a piece of equipment needs maintenance, a drawing of that equipment needs to be sent to the contractor or vendor. Now TID can use Adept to ensure that the latest copy of that drawing gets out in the field.
“Adept delivers drawings to many different people in TID. If someone needs information, I simply submit a request to Information Systems (IS) and they install and train that person in as little as an hour’s time. I can continue doing my work without interruption. It’s a huge time saver.”
Jobe is pleased with his new-found efficiencies. Many of his former tasks have been eliminated, including retrieving a hard copy of a drawing for viewing from the print room. “Anyone with privileges can now view and print a copy of a document for themselves. I don’t have to make a copy for others and people get the information from Adept immediately — when they need it – instead of depending on interoffice ‘snail’ mail for delivery. In addition, our documents managed in our Adept system are secure against everyday events like accidental deletion.”
Administration of the system is no longer a big issue for Jobe. Some departments don’t require stringent controls: An editor can check out a drawing, edit it, and check it back in. Other departments require a manager to approve a drawing before it can be checked back into the Adept database. The important thing is that each department can work the way they need to without a huge investment of administration time and involvement.
Improving Service to the Public
TID is required to meet the requirements of several regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) and California ISO. For example, FERC requires that all drawing revisions be maintained for 50 years after a license expires. Data retention and security are a must. “Our new system is very easy to configure to meet the security requirements of regulatory agencies. Not only are documents secure against everyday events like accidental deletion, but it is easy to administer rights in Adept, such as who gets to view or print the documents,” said Jobe.
“In addition to these requirements, as a public utility, we have a commitment to keep rates low. This places a burden on us to get our work done with minimal staff at a time when California’s economy is expanding. This means we have more work to do with less people to get it done. We have to be as efficient as possible.”
Streamlining Processes Eliminate Mistakes
Using Adept, Jobe can create job packages containing multiple files for transmission to other people in the organization in seconds. In this short time, he can find files, compile them and send out an entire set to another person, who may want to copy or print the contents of the package.
Jobe uses Adept to access information about work that may have been done years earlier. “Suppose I have to work on a project from three years ago. Now I can open Adept’s Document Dashboard and see all the drawings that had to do with that job. I can also find the person who did the job and see the file relationships in a Work Order, including when it went out and all the drawings that may have been changed, for example, in a Fiber Optic system. Adept has a ‘Where Used’ tab that tells me what work order was used to edit these drawings.
“Sometimes I have several jobs going on, involving 20 or 30 of these Work Orders, and hundreds of drawings. When I’m ready to complete a Work Order and check it back into the Adept database, I can look at the Document Dashboard and see all the drawings in the project and which need to be plotted before the Work Order is complete. “
Growing Demand for Easier Access to Critical Information
At first, the TID Electrical and Civil Engineering departments were the only departments that used Adept. But, as more people in other departments find out they can get access to the information they need, the list of people who need viewing and printing keeps growing.
“When I look back on the way we did things before, Adept is definitely faster and easier to use than our previous document management system. It was an excellent choice for TID, completely worth every penny—and the savings keep adding up, both in terms of better efficiency and increased user satisfaction. It is also more secure both in the areas of data protection and user rights. We’ve been able to significantly increase the accuracy and availability of information to field crews.”