Wagstaff (www.wagstaff.com) is a manufacturing company that provides direct-chill casting equipment for aluminum producers worldwide. The Spokane, Washington-based company offers state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities to deliver innovative, comprehensive solutions to aluminum producers.
To complement its core aluminum equipment business, Wagstaff created the Applied Technology group in 2001, which delivers custom engineering and manufacturing to a variety of industries, such as nuclear power and government. By providing additional services to clients, the Applied Technology group has also helped Wagstaff weather the weak economic cycles of the last several years.
Compliance Requires Document Control
Initially, the Applied Technologies group’s biggest challenge was finding a way to achieve and maintain compliance requirements for their clients in the government and nuclear industries. For example, to bid on and win certain contracts in the nuclear industry, they needed to meet the Nuclear Quality Assurance (NQA) requirements.
“The NQA standard required stringent document control,” explains Ben Calvert, IT manager at Wagstaff. “To achieve our goals, we had to have some sort of a document control solution.”
Adds Calvert, “Using a manual system would require us to store boxes and boxes paper and get manual signatures on all our documents. It would probably be too rigorous and time-consuming to keep up.”
Taking the Lead for Document Management
Calvert was responsible for finding a document management solution for the Applied Technologies group. “Functionality and price point were two key factors that put Synergis Software’s Adept document management at the top of the list,” notes Calvert.
Another consideration was how well the system managed CAD documents for both AutoCAD and SolidWorks.”
“Originally, Applied Technologies was just using AutoCAD,” states Calvert. “Eventually, we needed a 3D modeling solution and decided on SolidWorks.”
Adds Courtney Johnson, Wagstaff Applied Technology engineering manager, “We were pleased at how well Adept manages parent-child relationships in SolidWorks assemblies.”
The Adept Pilot Program Seals the Decision
Before rolling Adept out to the entire Applied Technology Group Calvert decided to pilot Adept, where he could test out the system in a controlled environment.
“As part of the Adept pilot program, we purchased two seats of Adept, plus four hours of one-on-one training with Chris Fabri, Synergis Software Director of Engineering Solutions,” recalls Calvert.
“The pilot program is essentially one-on-one, in-depth training,” explains Calvert. “You’re on a web conference with an expert in Adept, who walks you through the installation step-by-step. He oversees everything you do as you do it. It’s really helpful to have somebody right thereĂ˘â‚¬â€ťcoaching you on each task and explaining what everything means. It makes learning the system so much easier.”
Adds Calvert, “For us, the Adept Pilot also gave us the ability to implement the system remotely. The initial install and configurationĂ˘â‚¬â€ťby configuration I mean the automation between AutoCAD and AdeptĂ˘â‚¬â€ťwas all done by me. It was a straightforward process that worked out well.”
After the successful pilot, Calvert decided to purchase more seats of Adept. At that point, he invited an application engineer from Synergis Software to train to all the key people in Adept administration.
“The idea was that the couple of people who were formally trained were then going to do knowledge sharing,” notes Calvert. “By and large, that strategy worked well. The reality is that Adept is intuitive and easy to use. Once the installation and configuration of the system is done, people can start signing in and signing out documents and doing searches.”
Achieving Compliance is Now Easy
Adept helped the Applied Technology group over their biggest hurdleĂ˘â‚¬â€ťgetting compliant with industry standards.
States Calvert,” The engineers use Adept’s workflow as part of their quality assurance program, in which all documentation must be signed off and reviewed in a series of steps.”
“We were able to show the review and approval process using Adept’s workflow,” adds Johnson. “We could prove our processes were intact for multiple revisions using the audit trail. When an auditor came in to examine our processes, Adept was able to successfully show them an entire history of every document in the system.”
“Depending on the document type, there’s the issue of security and document historyĂ˘â‚¬â€ťwho did what to which document whenĂ˘â‚¬â€ťas well as a need to show that a particular type of document goes through a specific process,” states Calvert. “Adept allows us to set up a process with an audit trail that demonstrates compliance. Without Adept, it would be difficult to validate any of our processes.”
Managing More than Drawings
Beyond CAD drawings, the Applied Technology group uses Adept to manage all types of engineering information. They have added purchasing specifications, quality information, inspection sheets, design specification, project management documents, and purchasing documents into Adept. They also use Adept to keep track of document transmittals they get and send to customers.
Concludes Calvert,” Document management in the engineering arena is very important. Adept has met all our expectations and has enabled us to solve real business problems.”