The utility industry, which is under greater control by Homeland Security and the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), is now required to have greater internal and external control over its documents. Adept document management & workflow from Synergis Software offers that tight level of security to meet these strict requirements for South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G). SCE&G is the principal subsidiary of SCANA Corporation (www.scana.com), a $10 billion Fortune 500 energy-based holding company whose businesses include regulated electric and natural gas utility operations, telecommunications and other non-regulated energy-related businesses. It serves close to 297,000 natural gas customers in a service area more than 22,000 square miles in central and southern South Carolina. The company also generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity to approximately 636,000 retail and wholesale customers throughout South Carolina.
Utility companies like SCE&G are divided into three parts: generation, transmission and distribution. Alan Smoak is an electrical engineer in the Transmission Group where electrical substations are designed. Because electrical substations are part mechanical, electrical and architectural, SCE&G and its contractors use a combination of AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor for the steel structure and electrical schematic design. As a subset of the Transmission Group, the Substation Siting Group uses both AutoCAD and AutoCAD Land Desktop for site development projects that include laying out the route for the transmission line and the grading. Adept manages all these different file types and more.
“The substation is maintained almost like a manufacturing plant, so all the designs associated with it need to be controlled,” explained Smoak. “Our biggest business challenge was that all this information had been paper-based and there lacked a process and efficient way to manage it. As a result, we lost the ability to find documents easily and to manage revisions.”
“Because all of the substations have names, numbers and cities associated with them, this gave us more searching capabilities and drove us to research a document management system,” added Smoak.
Smoak invited Synergis Software (www.synergissoftware.com) to make a presentation to management about its Adept document management & workflow software. SCE&G’s management was impressed and saw the possibilities for dramatic procedural and productivity improvements.
File Searching Time Slashed
With Adept, SCE&G now has the ability to index folders and search for documents by different types of metadata rather than just by filename or date as is common in Microsoft Explorer. Now, SCE&G could search for substation documents by name, number, work orders, file, author, date, and more. This provided more powerful search capabilities to reduce file access time. In addition, Adept has indexed ‘FileGuide’ views that let users search by project, file type, and extension, or any other combination of search criteria. One FileGuide view is the ‘Library Browser’ that mimics an existing Windows tree structure, making it easy for people to navigate and search with Adept as they start out with the software.
“We had an issue where we were losing some old drawing revisions. So Adept allowed us to keep our old records. It also provided help with revision control, communication and collaboration among teams working on the same document. The system allows us to adhere to the latest CAD standards by leveraging the revision control capability in Adept,” said Smoak.
SCE&G utilizes Adept in its purchasing process because everything it buys generally needs a drawing or a specification. With Adept, Smoak and his team can find all the documentation needed to support a requisition, which may include 50 or more items such as transformers, breakers, relays, and switches. “I can go on Adept and find all of the specifications and all the structures and save them as a favorite and actually send them directly from Adept to Purchasing without spending a lot of time,” said Smoak. “Now I can take something that took me two or three days and do it in about an hour.”
No IT Support Needed for Implementation and Maintenance
The implementation process was smooth and required minimal IT resources to support it, which was a critical selection criterion for Smoak. “The overall implementation plan that Synergis Software presented was fairly simple to do. The price, the support, the ease of use of the software, and the fact that it could easily integrate into our system were all key,” said Smoak.
Adept’s powerful out-of-the-box functionality enabled Smoak and his team to deploy and use it without requiring IT support or any custom programming. Synergis Software programmers did, however, develop a fast batch renaming macro that made it fast to import all SCE&G’s documents during the initial set up process. In fact, the complete implementation of Adept was completed in about a week. Synergis Software also provided onsite training at SCE&G for 20 users and two administrators. Currently, the Substation and Material & Engineering Standards departments are using Adept to manage 28,000 documents.
Quality Reigns High on SCE&G’s Business Objectives
Bringing in a document management solution like Adept has brought SCE&G many benefits. The searching capabilities have increased its productivity tenfold and has positively impacted the workflow process. More important to Smoak, however, is Adept’s contribution to the overall quality it brings to the organization. Users are assured of the quality and reliability of the information with which they are working.
“The control, the adherence to standards and the improvement to the quality process Adept offers is very powerful in improving the quality of the products and infrastructure we provide,” said Smoak.
Security Critical to File Management
SCE&G uses Adept to manage many different types of documents for different groups within the utility. The Site Development Group and its outside consultants have drawings that involve regulations for purchasing and developing around wetlands. The Substation Group uses Adept to manage standard drawings and to store project documentation, which includes Word documents and permits for environmental approvals from federal agencies. In fact, since environmental regulations are becoming a big part of SCE&G’s business, the company is increasing its security needs.
“Basically, Homeland Security uses the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) to make sure utilities are implementing security measures as well as maintaining a competitive business environment,” said Smoak. “The electrical industry is being viewed by Homeland Security more and more as critical infrastructure. As a result, internal and external security of our drawings is now tighter than ever and Adept plays an increasingly important role.”