Managing new construction and maintaining buildings across a geographically dispersed corporate or university campus requires a coordinated information management effort. For each building system – whether it’s HVAC, piping, or alarm systems – there may be dozens of related CAD drawings with embedded attributes that describe the layout of all types of equipment and conduits. Organizing and providing access to information about all current building layouts is as important as it is time consuming. No one knows this better than the facility, plant and utility managers at the University of Houston whose campus spans 550 acres and is comprised of 110 buildings.
Synergis Software’s Adept Document Management & Workflow Capabilities Improve Service to Existing Building Assets
Recently, the University’s Utility Services group headed up a project to update all graphic documents of building layouts in its Energy Management and Environmental Control System (EMECS). They required access to graphics and drawings with the latest building construction changes. The Utility Services group used Adept document management & workflow software to identify which building drawings had been changed since the last update to the system. Adept delivered timely access to the latest revision of a construction drawing, enabling the Utility Services Group to locate faulty equipment or conduits and correct a problem faster.
Jeff Parker, EMECS Manager, commented, “With these updated graphics and drawings, the EMECS shop can better troubleshoot HVAC problems and respond to HVAC calls quicker. In a nutshell, the most important requirements for this project are to be quick, be easy, and be up-to-date.”
“Adept was instrumental to the project manager’s success by providing quick access to the latest drawings with the most recent revision dates. Previously, he had to rely on getting drawings from different groups and systems. Now, they are all in one program,” added Parker.
These technical challenges were resolved, thanks to the foresight of Fidel Ramirez, Microsystems Analyst 2, who is responsible for the purchase and maintenance of desktop computer systems and software for the Plant Operations department at the University of Houston (www.uh.edu/plantops). The department, which is charged with new construction and maintenance of existing buildings, includes several subgroups that range from the planning of new buildings to the final maintenance and upkeep once they are operational. The department coordinates these services for several campuses around the state of Texas. Its customers are primarily other departments in the University of Houston system that, in turn, serve their students.
In August 2002, Ramirez was charged with improving the facilities management processes within his department, which lacked standards and organization. The various departments kept individual copies of drawings in network drives, in an older system, and on paper.
“We had no central repository to keep these drawing documents and to make them available to everyone. Often the documents kept were not the most recent; some departments would have to request a drawing from our archivist and wait until she had time to search for it. If they wanted to speed up the process, they would come and personally do the search on a public computer loaded with our drawings. In addition, we would have to instruct them on how to install a viewer for each type of file that they needed to use on their personal computer,” explained Ramirez.
“With Adept, we’re able to provide a single solution to our customers by having the search tool and viewer combined into one program for complete document management. We were especially excited about Adept’s ability to provide access to a single repository of data to all remote users,” said Ramirez.
Making More Informed Decisions with the Most Up to Date Information
Ramirez’s department does minimal design work in-house. The drawings, however, are critical to the Project Managers in the Facilities Planning and Construction group. They use this data to make decisions about new construction and renovations. To make effective decisions, this group requires quick, reliable access to the latest and most accurate drawings.
“By making revisions within Adept’s environment, the people who update drawings when a structure changes are now able to reflect those changes to every key player in the organization within several days versus several months. We’ve cut out the distribution of changes and we’re now able to share any part of our database with non-staff and be sure we’re protected,” Ramirez commented.
“We have achieved cost savings by having a more efficient and informed workforce. In our Facilities Planning and Construction area, we have been able to make decisions using the most up-to-date information. In our Building and Utilities groups, we have been able to give them the most accurate drawings for a building when and where they need it – anytime on their PC. And we no longer have to distribute drawings by email, CD-ROM, or other means to make sure everyone is updated,” said Ramirez.
Ease of Use and Quick Implementation
Ramirez evaluated several document management solutions before choosing Adept. “Adept stood out for its ease of use and the features offered for the price. While other packages required an extra fee to view our AutoCAD design documents, this came standard with Adept,” said Ramirez.
Adept allowed the University of Houston to organize drawings into one software program with secure permission-based access to allow changes to be made only by those who were authorized. Instead of loading several different viewers, Adept can view and print these documents with its built-in visualization technology.
According to Ramirez, “Learning to use the software takes less than five minutes because of the intuitive interface. Most of our staff were able to perform successful searches after a short demonstration.”
“During the implementation, we imported all the legacy data from our old EDM system so we could hit the deck running,” added Ramirez.
Ramirez sees a trend in the marketplace for companies to move to just-in-time systems that provide anytime/anywhere access to data. Within the University itself, the Utility Service Group has already used Adept as a strategic tool to help achieve this objective without requiring large budgets or IT resources.
“The overall investment and time to get up and running in only five days was impressive and allowed us to prove the value of the investment within a matter of weeks,” concludes Ramirez. “We are very pleased with the result.”