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First Steps in Engineering Document Management

The goal of this guide is to

Set a context for justifying document management

Distinguish engineering document management from clerical systems

Suggest how potential cost savings can be quantified
Introduce Trix Systems software and services

See also: Creating Engineering Document Control Procedures

Introduction to Technical Data Management Systems

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Why manage documents?

Many tasks require information from drawings or other documents

If information cant be found, or is the wrong version, costs and risk increase

Costs can be staff or machine downtime or re-working a job

Downtime as people look for information is usually absorbed into overhead

Incidents where reworking costs are incurred are more likely to be noticed

Absent or incorrect information impacts safety

For example: Deepwater Horizon disaster investigators stated they were unable
to find assurance documentation for the incorrectly wired solenoid in the blow
out preventer. Tracking documents in a formal management system was their

Good document management ensures that the correct documents are always
available and easy to find
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The goals for document management

Documentation that is static (for reference) must be

Accurate and current, so it is trusted

Easily found, even without knowing specific identifying information

Documentation being changed (edited) must be

Under control, using predetermined workflows

Easily communicated, for reviews, approvals and releases

All documentation must

Support engineering business procedures

Show histories of change

Be secured against intruders and unauthorized edits

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Engineering vs. Clerical Document Management

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Why Engineering Document Management?

Insurance and other paper-pushing industries manage vast amounts of

documents using clerical document management systems.

These clerical systems work very well for clerical needs but are
unsuitable for the very different environment of engineering
operations. In clerical systems

Documents are standardized think of claim forms. This is the opposite of the
engineering environment where every drawing is unique

Revision control is unimportant as most clerical documents never change

Workflows are unidirectional, not the repeated edit-review-rework flows of


Distribution and transmittals are relatively unimportant

So engineering organizations require systems specifically designed for

their needs. Clerical systems do not contain the features needed by
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Quantifying Cost Savings

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Calculating the costs of disorganized documentation

You can estimate

Time spent looking for documentation

How much time is spent by users looking for drawings or other


Cascading interruptions: How much time do others then spend helping these
folk find what they need?

How much machine downtime is also a consequence of these delays?

Multiply these hours by burdened $ rates and extrapolate a yearly cost

Identifiable incident losses

Make a list of occasions when production was lost and/or re-working was
required due to use of incorrect or outdated documentation

Estimate the costs of these incidents and extrapolate to a typical yearly cost
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Engineering document management cuts costs

The time needed to locate a document should drop to seconds. No

walking, telephoning or emailing - just a connected computer

Errors from using incorrect documentation disappear. Only the latest,

approved and published versions are used

Time spent manually moving files and attaching to emails is eliminated.

Instead, documents are displayed to the user as soon as they are found

Reports are automatically generated instead of manually created

Knowledge recorded in markup is stored in the system, visible to all who

need to know. This saves more time

Staff are more productive when they know information is reliable

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Summarizing the benefits

An Engineering Document Management System reduces costs and

aggravation while increasing quality and timeliness.

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Spreadsheets dont do the job

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A spreadsheet is not a document management solution

Spreadsheets are very limited when there are:

Large quantities of different types of data

Requirements to cross-link information

Frequent changes to be made by many people

Different types of information to be presented in one window

Spreadsheets do not impose discipline

Users can bypass procedures to access and change files without

updating the spreadsheet

Document management software uses database tables to

store both data and files and takes care of these factors
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Getting started

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A document management implementation requires

A requirements study

A pilot installation to test the proposed software

Clean up of existing data to remove duplicates and errors

Loading of cleaned data into the new system

Software installation


Revised procedures

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A Requirements Study addresses

What is needed for software and procedures

Legacy data

How should the system be configured to fit your operations?

What legacy data is worth loading into the new system and what
can be omitted?

Overcoming resistance to change

Current custodians of data may fear giving up their jurisdiction

People are reluctant to change established patterns

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Trix Systems

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Trix Systems provides:

Requirements Studies and Pilots

Review of your processes and data, recommendations for software,
preparation of a budget and installation of a pilot for testing

We develop our own Engineering Document Management software

Data Clean Up & Loading

We consolidate, clean and load existing data into the new system.

On-site and Internet-based training for every level of user

Development of realistic procedures for document management and
associated CAD protocols

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Trix Systems Software

Trix FastDoc is a cloud-hosted Engineering Document Management

service that provides storage, revision control and secure

Trix Organizer Standard is Engineering Document Management

software to install on your own servers.

Trix Organizer Industry Selections provide broad Technical Data

Management for individual industry types.

Trix Project Access enables secure customer and vendor access to

manage, view and transfer data during projects.

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Questions - Contact us
US (978) 256 4445
UK 020 7193 7445
Sweden 010 451 0500

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