"Without Falcon/DMS, the support function would have been a nightmare!"
"With the diversification of all the projects...at Harza Northeast, I don't know what we'd do without Falcon/DMS."
"I had one user who told me that when she first heard we were going to implement a file management system, she thought it was going to be a hindrance. She believed it would slow her down, but she found out that it worked just the opposite," recalls Dousharm. "Today, she tells me, 'if you take it away, I will break your fingers!'"
Computer Systems & CADD Administrator
Harza Northeast is an architecture, engineering, construction management, and surveying firm located in Utica, NY. The firm has a wide client base, including Fortune 500 companies, municipal, state, and federal agencies, utilities, and colleges and universities. Its parent company, Harza Engineering, is located in Chicago, Illinois, with operating offices throughout the United States and in 20 other locations worldwide.
Among its varied client base is the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), which has utilized Harza Northeast's talents on a variety of projects. Harza Northeast designed the reconstruction of Route 7, a primary transportation route between Schenectady and Troy, NY, adding a center lane to improve safety along a 6.4-mile corridor that is traveled by over 21,000 vehicles each day. Harza Northeast was also selected by NYSDOT to design a replacement for the Fenimore Bridge over the Hudson River. The Fenimore Bridge had provided an important commercial transportation link and convenient access between scenic Washington and Saratoga Counties in New York State for over 80 years, but the structure had deteriorated to the point that it had to be temporarily closed to traffic in 1989. The challenge was to design the new bridge in such a way that would not disturb the original, which was built in 1906 and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Another award-winning design by Harza Northeast is the 63,000-sq.-ft Quality Control Laboratory Building for Schering-Plough Corporation. Located in Union, New Jersey, this laboratory facility received R&D Magazine's Special Mention Award in their 1996 Laboratory of the Year awards program. Harza Northeast's diverse clientele also includes the Remington Arms Company. Remington, the nation's leading manufacturer of sporting firearms, looked to Harza Northeast for the renovation and conversion of part of a 100-year-old manufacturing space into a custom gun shop and museum.
All these projects require a lot of drawings! Ask Frank Dousharm, the man responsible for all of the computer and CADD systems at Harza Northeast, why he began searching for a document control system and he'll say: "We knew playing the game of 'Original-Original-Who-Has -The-Original' would be costly for us and our clients." Harza Northeast works with a massive amount of CADD drawings and realized early on that a file management structure would have to be put in place.
When NYSDOT awarded the architectural and engineering firm the contract for a new highway system in 1992, it was time to implement a file management system. "There were hundreds of drawings that were involved in that one project," recalls Dousharm, "And we wanted to be able to manage and keep track of our files efficiently." After investigating and testing four different document management solutions, the Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System from tsaADVET came out the winner.
One of the main reasons Harza Northeast chose Falcon/DMS was the product's multiple platform functionality. "That was our main criteria," recalls Dousharm. "We run both UNIX Clippers and PC's, and the fact that Falcon/DMS supported both platforms was very important to us." Also important to Dousharm—and the 45 users at Harza Northeast—was a user-friendly interface. "And I'd say that the Falcon/DMS interface was much more straightforward than the others we'd looked at," he says.
Another feature extremely critical to Harza Northeast's operations was the ability of the document management system to support multiple CADD application packages. "We are an engineering and architectural firm," explains Dousharm. "Many of our clients use MicroStation and many use AutoCAD. We must be able to run both." Falcon/DMS has native internal interfaces within both, and all document management tasks can be performed from within MicroStation or AutoCAD graphics. CADD users at Harza Northeast can easily move from AutoCAD to MicroStation at any time on the nine workstations that are configured to run both programs with little change in Falcon/DMS functionality.
Since Harza Northeast installed Falcon/DMS in 1992, it has helped manage nearly 250 projects for the firm, involving thousands of drawings. "We brought in the engineering side first," recalls Dousharm. "Then we integrated it into other areas, such as civil/structural, environmental work, and municipality studies. We soon realized the advantage Falcon/DMS could provide for our architectural/interiors areas, too."
"The floor plan is the foundation of the architectural project," explains Dousharm. "And Falcon/DMS helps us keep track of the different floor plans for any of the different disciplines—whether it is architecture, mechanical, electrical, structural or interiors. Falcon/DMS allows us to maintain that floor plan in a protected mode, while making it available to all the other disciplines that may need it for background."
Another of the main benefits that Falcon/DMS affords Harza Northeast is considerable time savings as the firm realizes improved efficiencies by eliminating the need to regenerate lost data. "This results in significant savings," notes Dousharm. "It can amount to considerable time over the life of our projects." Falcon/DMS prevents multi-copying or unauthorized editing of design files. Unlike librarian systems that have only basic file locking capabilities, Falcon/DMS provides complete security via Access Control Files, File Status Access, and System-wide Toggles. System administrators can control the number of files that users may check out, or assign access to each Falcon/DMS menu command. Also, individual users or groups of users may utilize all menu functions while others may be limited to specific commands such as Copy, Move, or Delete.
Dousharm also likes the two levels of protection that Falcon/DMS provides for its 45 users. "If individual users made a mistake they can't easily recover from, they can get themselves out of trouble by retrieving the backup copy that's available locally or by starting over with the original file that is still on the server," he explains. These two options are available to the user before he or she has to request computer services support. Not having to go to the backup tape each time to retrieve a file has drastically reduced the support effort. Says Dousharm: "Users can support themselves. Without Falcon/DMS, the support function would have been a nightmare!"
The Falcon/DMS database acts as the digital vault for storage of all electronic documents. Its front-end scanner interface adds documents to the database as they are scanned. Its Windows-based document manager and its internal MicroStation and AutoCAD interfaces allow document creation, editing, moving, and copying quickly and easily. And its interface to a variety of printing and plotting engines allows the user to select a file, determine printing parameters such as number of copies and distribution, and output the file in one easy step.
Since all database records are stored in one digital vault, file access is fast and easy. This allows Harza Northeast users to utilize Falcon/DMS' file refresh capabilities. Users may update files in three different ways: By refreshing the server version with the file on which they are working locally; by refreshing their local file with the copy on the server; or by refreshing their local reference files with the latest copies on the server. In addition to retrieving files easily, Falcon/DMS also eliminates the need for duplicate corrections. In Harza Northeast's Civil/Structural Section, for example, the original site plan was stored in multiple locations. "Now by using Falcon/DMS, which stores files in a central location, the correction needs to be made only once," says Dousharm.
Not all of the users at Harza Northeast were Falcon/DMS advocates at first, however. "I had one user who told me that when she first heard we were going to implement a file management system, she thought it was going to be a hindrance. She believed it would slow her down, but she found out that it worked just the opposite," recalls Dousharm. "Today, she tells me, 'if you take it away, I will break your fingers!'"
Why the change of heart? "The ease of use of going from one project to another with the help of Falcon/DMS," says Dousharm. "Really, users like this ability that lets them easily work on multiple projects." Falcon/DMS allows the system manager to organize documents in directories up to six levels deep. Harza Northeast's document organization is identified by a project number. By simply selecting the project number directory, a user can quickly move from one project to another, and all documents available for that project and any sub-project directories can be quickly selected and downloaded. When the file is downloaded, its associated application is automatically launched.
Harza Northeast wasn't alone in realizing the many advantages that Falcon/DMS afforded. "Two years ago, Harza Engineering Company, our corporate headquarters in Chicago, recognized that they, too, needed to keep better track of their original documents. They did an independent study and also selected Falcon/DMS for document management control," notes Dousharm. To date, Falcon/DMS has helped manage more than 200 projects for the Chicago office.
It won't be long before all Harza subsidiaries are using Falcon/DMS. "We are trying out a WAN application of Falcon/DMS between our New York office and the Chicago, California, and Washington offices," explains Dousharm. "Our ultimate goal is that any document will be accessible by any of Harza's 700+ employees. Where that original file is stored will be transparent to the end user."
Just as Falcon/DMS has been a tremendous benefit for Harza Northeast and Harza Engineering in Chicago, implementing Falcon/DMS over a WAN will be a tremendous benefit for the entire organization. "With the diversification of all the projects that we have going on here at Harza Northeast, I don't know what we'd do without Falcon/DMS," says Dousharm.
For all of the users at Harza Northeast—the designers, the engineers, and the architects—the game of 'Original-Original-Who-Has-The-Original' is forever over and everyone is a winner, thanks to Falcon/DMS.
"tsaADVET showed itself to be a true partner and team member by working closely with us over the past years and particularly during the first phase of the I-15 project. We know we'll get the right support when we need it."
CADD Production Manager
What do the 2002 Winter Olympics, Interstate 15, and the Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System have in common? More than one would think!
On March 26, 1997, the Utah Department of Transportation announced the award of a $1.4 billion contract to Wasatch Constructors for the reconstruction of Interstate 15 through Salt Lake City, the largest design-build project ever awarded by a state department of transportation. The design of this massive project is being led by a joint venture of Sverdrup Civil, Inc., and De Leuw, Cather & Co.
Any project of this size faces mammoth management challenges. To give you an idea of the scope, every piece of asphalt, concrete, and steel in the existing 17 miles of roadway will be replaced. Over 130 bridges will be replaced and seven interchanges will be completely reconfigured.
"Incident detection" cameras and variable message signs (and the fiber optic cable connecting them) will be installed the length of the project, and improved drainage systems and lighting will be installed. Access routes to the interstate will be improved throughout the city. The new pavement on I-15 will use enough concrete to build a sidewalk from Salt Lake City to Key West, Florida! And that's a lot of sidewalk.
The already-daunting tasks involved in the Interstate 15 project, however, are compounded by the schedule: The I-15 corridor must be completed by October 2001 in time for the Winter Olympics to be held in Salt Lake City in 2002. And a design project of this size with this compressed schedule means an incredible amount of documents and drawings to be managed.
tsaADVET is proud that Sverdrup has chosen the Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System to be an integral part of managing this exciting challenge. Initially, approximately 200 seats of Falcon/DMS will be installed strictly for the I-15 project. Sverdrup has been using the Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System in many of its offices for a number of years.
Why Falcon/DMS? There are a number of reasons. Falcon/DMS allows Sverdrup to have multiple remote sites working on the same project using one centralized Falcon/DMS database. In fact, Sverdrup used Falcon/DMS in the first phase of the I-15 corridor reconstruction project in its Seattle, Salt Lake, and Phoenix offices with the Seattle office housing the Falcon/DMS digital vault for the project.
Falcon/DMS handles MicroStation reference files (and also AutoCAD XREF files, although the AutoCAD XREF capability is not required for the I-15 project), and the optional Session Accounting module will allow Sverdrup to isolate various subcontractors' time spent on the job as well as time spent on InRoads files vs. MicroStation files. Another important factor is that the design team always knows the location and status of any original file within the Falcon/DMS environment no matter where that file is located.
In addition, Version 5.4 of Falcon/DMS is compatible with InRoads, an important consideration for Sverdrup in this design award. According to Larry York, Sverdrup's CADD Production Manager, "tsaADVET showed itself to be a true partner and team member by working closely with us over the past years and particularly during the first phase of the I-15 project." He continued, "We know we'll get the right support when we need it."
And that's what tsaADVET wants the Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System to be for you-the glue that holds together your entire EDMS solution. When you're watching the 2002 Winter Olympics in a few short years, remember that being able to witness "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" of the Olympic Games involves a lot more action than just the excitement, athleticism, and glamour you see on television. And if you're one of the lucky ones in Salt Lake City for the Games, as you're driving to the events using the new I-15 corridor, remember that Falcon/DMS played its part in making it all happen!
"tsaADVET and its Falcon/DMS product clearly rose to the top as the only choice for us based on cost, performance, [and] seamless integration with MicroStation."
"The functionality, ease of installation and setup, ease of use, and maintenance of Falcon/DMS are all superior."
"Falcon/DMS has freed up our systems support employees to do the job they're meant to do, instead of tracking drawings."
Anheuser Busch Engineering
When you think Anheuser-Busch Companies, you may think about raising your glass and making a toast. You might not realize that while it is the world's largest brewing company, Anheuser-Busch is also the second-largest U.S. manufacturer of aluminum beverage containers, and one of the largest theme-park operators in the United States. Its brewing subsidiary, Anheuser-Busch Inc., which makes Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch beer to name just a few brands, claims more than 45 percent of the total brewing market share in the U.S. in 2010.
With nearly 1,000 people, the Anheuser-Busch Corporate Engineering group provides engineering support for a variety of projects, including expansions and modernizations for all of its domestic breweries, as well as its Metal Container Corporation can-making plants. The Corporate Engineering group also provides support such as electrical control work for the shark tanks at the Company's Sea World theme parks in Ohio, Florida and California.
The St. Louis-based beer magnate, which has 12 breweries domestically scattered between California and Virginia, selected tsaADVET's Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System as its document management solution of choice. For now, Anheuser-Busch has about 60 Falcon/DMS users on its network. That's soon to change as shortly, Falcon/DMS will enable remote users such as Anheuser-Busch's consulting firms and other support staff in various offices to access drawings located in the St. Louis headquarters.
Anheuser-Busch Corporate Engineering group's decision to go with Falcon/DMS came about as a cross-section of employees teamed up to determine what the department's document management system as a whole needed to be. Debbie Wilson, an Anheuser-Busch systems engineer who specializes in CADD systems, how this team pulled together to determine the best document management system to suit all of their needs.
"Our team consisted of many different disciplines. There were engineers, application programmers, administrative employees, project support employees, and myself, from a system support side. Each person came from a different area of expertise," explains Wilson.
End users, such as engineers, wanted an easy interface so that they could quickly query the system to find the files they wanted to view or plot. Administration employees wanted to get data entered as easily as possible and were looking to be comfortable with a new "electronic vault" system.
"For me, I wanted the system to be secure and also to act seamlessly with MicroStation," Wilson added. MicroStation is the standard for CADD software within Anheuser-Busch.
With everyone's needs in mind, a list of functional requirements and technical specifications were defined and agreed upon. They provided the document management features needed while maintaining compliance with Anheuser-Busch's existing network configuration. Falcon/DMS is network operating system independent, and is compatible with DOS and UNIX-based systems that utilize logical drive connections or NFS mounts between the client workstation and the server, such as Windows NT, Novell, LAN Manager, Banyan, Pathworks, NFS, as well as selected TCP/IP environments.
Once their needs were defined, Wilson and other members of the Anheuser-Busch team attended several trade shows and conferences and "did some shopping around." A long list of possibilities were drawn up, recalls Wilson. From there, the list was whittled down to about ten companies that were invited to bid based on their perceived ability to meet the desired specifications. "Of those ten companies, tsaADVET and its Falcon/DMS product clearly rose to the top as the only choice for us based on cost, performance, seamless integration with MicroStation, and tsaADVET's agreement to port the database to Sybase," notes Wilson. "The cost was right. And the functionality, ease of installation and setup, ease of use, and maintenance of Falcon/DMS are all superior."
Getting started with Falcon/DMS is indeed simple. An easy-to-follow Setup Wizard takes you through the set-up configuration process one step at a time. Once up and running, the Falcon/DMS Document Manager dialog box puts you in total control of all the files on the network. Move them, retrieve them, copy or rename them, add new files, find out file location, and search your database quickly and easily with the Falcon/DMS Document Manager.
One of the major functional requirements for document management within Anheuser- Busch that Falcon/DMS met was its ability to access and manage files from within MicroStation. "A lot of other document management software that we reviewed wouldn't let you launch the application from within it," Wilson points out. "They also couldn't handle reference and raster files the way Falcon/DMS can."
When a CADD file is accessed for modification, Falcon/DMS automatically identifies and downloads from the server all MicroStation reference files that are associated with the active MicroStation design file. At the System Administrator's option, downloading of reference files may be turned off, or the user may tag selected reference files for downloading.
Also, as Wilson mentioned, Falcon/DMS allows you to check out any type of document while automatically launching the associated application. In addition to the internal MicroStation MDL interface, Falcon/DMS provides the same internal functionality from within AutoCAD. For non-CADD documents, such as Excel, WordPerfect, PowerPoint, or any other Windows-based application, Falcon/DMS automatically launches the appropriate application when a file is selected. And Falcon/DMS allows you to group files so that at your option you can download an entire folder containing, for example, the CADD file, a supporting specification from a word processing application, and a spreadsheet. "Right now, we're using Falcon/DMS mainly to check in and check out CADD drawings," explains Wilson. It's not unusual for a hundred drawings at a time to be checked out for use by one of Anheuser-Busch's engineering consultant partners. "By controlling these drawings, this ensures that only one person has an original at one time. It makes juggling control of files a lot easier," notes Wilson. And control is what Falcon/DMS is all about. One of the features that Wilson especially likes about Falcon/DMS is its security capabilities that enable either group or individual access privileges to be set up. Falcon/DMS provides complete security via its Access Control by Group and Access Control by User functions that allow the system manager to give or limit menu functions and editing privileges. This can be done by an individual user or by groups of users. Wilson, for example, can control the number of files that users may check out; and, at her discretion, individual users or groups may utilize all menu items while others are limited to specific commands such as Copy, Move, or Delete.
Prior to installing tsaADVET's document management software, Anheuser-Busch's method of tracking documents involved a text list that was supposed to be checked off as files moved from one location to the next. "It was really prone to error," recalls Wilson. "A nightmare! And we were always having problems with duplicate originals. It was basically a full-time job keeping track of who had what file," she says, adding that a simple typographical error might create a big problem. Says Wilson: "Falcon/DMS has freed up our systems support employees to do the job they're meant to do, instead of tracking drawings."
Another advantage to Falcon/DMS is that it allows the system manager to determine if files are to be worked on over the network or downloaded to an individual's workstation. At Anheuser-Busch, all of the work gets done on the user's local workstation. "It's much more efficient [than our old VAX system] because now that all of the work is done locally, the network traffic has been substantially reduced." says Wilson. The network is loaded only as the CADD group downloads or uploads its files, typically at the beginning and end of the workday. "There's much less load on our network now during the bulk of the business day."
Any company that satisfies almost 50% of the market as Anheuser-Busch does with its brewed products needs to continually work to make sure its manufacturing processes stay current and competitive. Falcon/DMS provides Anheuser-Busch with a tool that allows its CADD operation to keep pace with the constant modernizations and process changes and additions that the Company needs to maintain its competitive edge.
"We desired stability and performance. tsaADVET delivered on all these issues."
"Falcon/DMS with its flexibility and document organization features allowed us to maintain our documents as we needed them. We didn't have to restructure to meet the document management system's requirements."
"End users...feel [Falcon/DMS] is very intuitive, very easy to use."
Chances are pretty good that if you open up your medicine cabinet, you might find one or more of Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc., products on the shelf. The pharmaceutical giant is the maker of more than 140 different over-the-counter and prescrip tion medicines such as Motrin, Cortaid, Kaopectate, Nicorette, Rogaine, Halcion, and Xanax, in addition to cancer treatment drugs, nutritional supplements, and a full line of animal health products.
Some of these products are made at Pharmacia & Upjohn's 5,000+-acre campus in Kalamazoo, Mich.—one of three Corporate operational headquarters, and the only one located in the United States. The other two operational headquarters (Pharma Product Centers) are in Stockholm, Sweden and Milan, Italy, with the Kalamazoo operation producing some 90 different products. Facility additions and expansions are always being made to the Kalamazoo campus as the company enlarges its product offerings and market share.
"It's a challenge for the architects," notes Doug Freeland, a Pharmacia & Upjohn Information Technology Specialist who is charged with managing the company's CADD drawings library. That library is made up of nearly 55,000 CADD drawings generated using MicroStation, Pharmacia & Upjohn's corporate standard graphic tool. The challenge of managing those files is made easy with tsaADVET's Falcon/DMS Document Management System.
Since its introduction in 1989, Falcon/DMS has saved thousands of CADD users time and significantly increased their productivity by providing a quick and easy way to access documents. tsaADVET's document management software is currently in use in hundreds of companies worldwide, representing a wide variety of industries—from food, beverage, utility, chemical, and multi-faceted manufacturing companies to government operations and pharmaceutical companies such as Pharmacia & Upjohn.
"Falcon/DMS is a good fit for us," says Freeland. "It allows us to keep track of all of our building drawings internally as well as those that go to architectural and engineering firms with whom we consult. The Location Checkout and Location Checkin features of Falcon/DMS make controlling any files sent off-site as easy and straightforward as those used in-house."
With actual production going on in about 70 buildings at the Kalamazoo campus, there's a lot to keep track of. The Pharmacia & Upjohn engineering operation is broken down into 14 separate disciplines, or units, explains Freeland. These units include civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, as well as office facilities management and instrumentation, and more. "Our engineering operation is not all that common," notes Freeland. "We have a decentralized drafting department, so there's no central drafting function." Instead, the 80+ CADD operators will work for any number of the 14 different disciplines.
A major on-going project at Pharmacia & Upjohn is maintaining current and accurate drawings reflecting the miles and miles of utility lines that run throughout its buildings and across campuses. Safety is of primary concern to the pharmaceutical giant, and government regulations mandate that manufacturers such as Pharmacia & Upjohn meet stringent safety requirements. "We're required by law to have the capability to identify what valve we would shut off if a pipe were to fail somewhere," explains Freeland. Falcon/DMS is vital to controlling and organizing this tracking process.
So why does Freeland like tsaADVET's document management system so well? "Falcon/DMS gives us the ability to have all of our drawings cataloged in a single, efficient library for immediate access," he says. Falcon/DMS, in fact, can extract and build a display library of about 1,000 records in about 5 to 7 seconds; smaller files are even faster.
One of the governmental regulations that Pharmacia & Upjohn must deal with involves process safety management. As such, the company must meet Food and Drug Administration regulations regarding how its drugs are made. Maintaining the flow charts, which represent the steps involved in the company's various drug-making processes and serve as part of the validation effort required by FDA regulations, is an ongoing process that Falcon/DMS helps manage.And managing files is what Falcon/DMS is all about. The Falcon/DMS Document Manager dialog box puts users in total control of all the files on their network. Users can move files, retrieve them, copy or rename them, add new files, determine file location, and search the database, very quickly and easily.
Ease of use is one of the major reasons why Freeland and the CADD users at Pharmacia & Upjohn like Falcon/DMS so much. "The ability to go from one design file to the next design file inside of a MicroStation session is great for us," notes Freeland. When a CADD file is accessed for modification, Falcon/DMS automatically identifies and downloads all MicroStation reference files that are associated with the design file. At the System Administrator's option, downloading of reference files may be turned off, or the user may tag selected reference files for downloading.
Another reason why Freeland says Falcon/DMS is a good fit for Pharmacia & Upjohn is the compatibility of its file organization structures with the company's needs. Falcon/DMS allows a system manager to assign a database classification depending upon the unique file names in a company's overall document management environment. In Pharmacia & Upjohn's case, it is distinguished by a building-by-building breakdown that is further segmented into various individual units. "Falcon/DMS with its flexibility and document organization features allowed us to maintain our documents as we needed them. We didn't have to restructure to meet the document management system's requirements." notes Freeland.
In fact, when Freeland first learned about Falcon/DMS and its MicroStation-specific interface in 1992, he says, "I thought we died and went to heaven." Not surprising considering the Company had just spent the previous 18 months trying to make another drawing management product work in its environment. "It was not a well-written software product for our application," says Freeland of that product.
"Coming off this experience, we desired stability and performance," recalls Freeland. In addition, the Company was looking for an intuitive interface, an inexpensive solution, and a vendor who would stand behind its products. "tsaADVET delivered on all of these issues," affirms Freeland.
"Before that," he recalls, "we had an in-house written CADD system that we used for about 10 years." It was a very rudimentary system used to catalog drawings, and as Freeland puts it, had "pretty much gone as far as it could go."
"At that time, we had about 22,000 drawings," continues Freeland. "We've now increased that by 1-1/2 fold to about 55,000 drawings, all being managed by Falcon/DMS." Freeland feels that the ease with which this growth has been accomplished is a testament to the way end users feel about tsaADVET's document management product. "They feel it is very intuitive, very easy to use," says Freeland. The Falcon/DMS Document Manager, which works internally within MicroStation and AutoCAD in addition to being Windows-based, is easy to learn and allows users to locate and select rapidly all documents regardless of file format. Once the document is selected, Falcon/DMS automatically launches the appropriate application, allowing the user to start work quickly and not waste time searching for files.
Pharmacia & Upjohn has a massive task on its hands—not only in the manufacturing of products in a highly competitive marketplace but also in managing its facilities growth to maintain state-of-the-art production facilities. Add to that the company's need to ensure that its processes are in compliance with Governmental regulations while operating in a safe environment, and it's clear that Pharmacia & Upjohn's reliance on its document management system is paramount. Falcon/DMS is an integral part of this management process by giving Pharmacia & Upjohn the document management tool it needs to manage and coordinate the demands of each part of its CADD operation.
"The time savings have been huge since Falcon was installed."
"The learning curve was very quick for users, and there was no real disruption to the operations."
"The CADD Department is there to get drawings out. We count on Falcon to get the file to the workstation to let the users work on it. Then right from within Falcon the users can plot it, and then Falcon gets it back to the server. The Falcon system is really down in the trenches working with us."
Manager of MIS
Flags from seven countries-among them Belgium, China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia- representing Tippins Incorporated's international customer base fly over its modern headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, welcoming visitors. Tippins, which was founded in 1923 by buying and selling used power plant and coal mining machinery, now employs nearly 350 people, and today the Company is recognized as one of the leading suppliers of rolling mill technology to metals producers worldwide.
Tippins has earned its premier status in the metals industry as a result of the Company's commitment to providing innovative solutions for attractive costs.
Tippin's goal is to be a leading supplier of engineered solutions to the domestic and international metals industries by providing unique, innovative and cost-effective answers to customers' requirements to maximize their return on capital investment.
A prime example is the U.S. Steel Group's 80-inch Continuous Hot Strip Mill Facility at its Mon Valley Works near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For this mill, Tippins' Process Automation Division provided a state-of-the-art control system, including a finishing mill setup computer, automatic gauge control and a process control system. The upgrade was so successful that new production records were set for daily tonnage as an unanticipated benefit of the modernization project. The 134-inch Tippins Plate Mill at Dongkuk Steel, Korea, is producing some of the world's highest quality steel plate. And these are just two of many similar projects that Tippins has completed for customers such as Oregon Steel Mills, Inc., Sydney Steel Corporation of Nova Scotia, Canada, and Commonwealth Aluminum of Lewisport, Kentucky.
In 1994, Tippins received its first orders for a new technology called the TSPT Process that Tippins developed and patented. The Company applied its philosophy of innovation to its internal CADD processes. "Not only did the large amount of work on this project require the expansion of our CADD operation," recalls Bill Wolf, Manager of MIS for Tippins, "but it was also time to standardize and update our network and existing CADD workstations."
Because Tippins was looking for one source that could provide a turnkey EDM (engineering document management) solution, Tippins turned to tsaADVET for its hardware and software expertise; its integration, installation, and training services; and Falcon.
tsaADVET has been providing complete EDM solutions based on the Falcon/DMS system since the late 1980's. In the case of Tippins, this complete solution included the installation and integration of a new fiber optics network in two buildings, multiple ADVET file servers, more than 100 ADVET CADD workstations, plot servers, Bentley Systems, Inc.'s MicroStation CADD software, plotting software, plotters, associated network peripherals—and the glue that holds the whole operation together: Falcon/DMS. In addition, tsaADVET provided training for the system managers and users on the MicroStation and Falcon products.
Before selecting tsaADVET, however, Wolf did some investigating. He decided it would be a "smart business move" to go with tsaADVET because it provided a single integrated solution including hardware, software, installation and support. "And I knew all of the machines were thoroughly tested out beforehand," notes Wolf, "so I knew that after the installation, everything would be compatible."
In addition to looking into hardware and integration options, Wolf also began investigating engineering document management systems. He decided to contact a long-time Falcon customer in Detroit, Michigan. When this Falcon user told him that he "couldn't live without it," Wolf was sold. And he decided that Falcon was the best choice for Tippins.
"At that time, we had no document management system at all," says Wolf. There were thousands of files in physical existence throughout Tippins' engineering organization with no electronic means of organization and control. Because the engineering workstations were not connected to the server, the CADD users had to store all of their files on disk. "Whenever anyone needed to find a file, they had to physically get out of their seat and walk across the room and look through a bin of disks," notes Wolf. "Everyone was getting very tired of putting everything on disk."
"We wanted to have a system that controlled all of our documents and users, but still provided flexibility and ease-of-use when saving drawings," says Wolf. He adds that they were experiencing a lot of problems with controlling access, and recalls a time when six people were trying to access one drawing at the same time. "Talk about a nightmare!" says Wolf.
The security issue, in fact, was the number one problem that Wolf wanted Falcon to solve. "We needed to eliminate our worries about people going about their business and accidentally destroying databases or files," he says. With Falcon in place, Wolf no longer had to worry about CADD users accidentally overwriting other people's work.Falcon prevents multi-copying or unauthorized editing of design files. When one user is editing a file, other users may not access that same file for modification, although they may view the file at any time. Unlike file librarian systems that have only basic file locking capabilities, Falcon also provides complete security via Access Control Files, File Status Access, and System-wide Toggles.
The Access Control functionality allows the system administrator to control the number of files that users may check out, or to assign or limit access to each Falcon menu command, such as Copy, Move, Delete, Rename, or Create. The access privileges can be different for MicroStation file access, AutoCAD file access, and General Document file access. In addition, the Access Control can be assigned to individual users or to groups of users.
File Status Access gives the system administrator the ability to assign different file statuses reflecting where a file might be in the modification or release cycle. Each file status may then be linked to one of three access privileges: Modification, View Only, or No Access. For example, the system manager may assign a status of "Released" linked to a "View Only" status. No one may modify a file with the status of "Released."
Security, ease of use, support from a supplier knowledgeable in all the aspects of EDM and CADD integration—all figured in Tippins' decision to select and purchase Falcon.
"The installation of Falcon at Tippins was a smooth one," reports Wolf. "The learning curve was very quick for users, too, and there was no real disruption to the operations."
MicroStation from Bentley Systems, Inc., is the engineering design software used by Tippins' CADD operation. Falcon, in addition to its Windows-based Document Manager and its AutoCAD interface, is designed with a native MDL interface for use within MicroStation. Since the Falcon MDL interface looks like it is part of MicroStation, users - particularly new users -didn't notice any difference. What they quickly came to realize, however, was how much easier it was to retrieve files with Falcon. "The time savings have been huge since Falcon was installed," reports Wolf.
The CADD Department is there to get drawings out," he adds. "We count on Falcon to get the file to the workstation to let the users work on it. Then right from within Falcon the users can plot it, and then Falcon gets it back to the server. The Falcon system is really down in the trenches working with us." And there are tens of thousands of files to manage in Tippins' trenches.
When a user checks out a MicroStation or AutoCAD file, the reference or XREF files associated with the design file may either automatically be downloaded, or at the system administrator's option, they may be individually tagged for downloading or not downloaded at all. Falcon also allows the system administrator to determine if files are to be automatically checked back into the server when a user exits the file or if the file may remain at the local workstation until the user checks the file back into the server.
Finding files is easy with Falcon. Falcon acts as the digital vault for the storage of all of Tippins' electronic documents with one centralized database housing the records for all the Company's files. When documents are scanned, they can be automatically added to the Falcon database in an organized fashion. When users need to access a file, they simply select it, and the file is automatically downloaded and its associated application is launched.
The Electrical Department recently converted 25,000 drawings to MicroStation. Falcon's bulk loading utility made adding the files to the database easy. As to how those 25,000 files relate to Tippins' overall CADD picture, "That is like a tomato compared to a big salad," explains Wolf. In all, Tippins has more than 130 Falcon users. Most of these users are found in the Mechanical and Civil Departments, with the balance made up in the Electrical, Fluids and Proposals Departments.
"We think that the document management that Falcon provides would be helpful to our non-CADD users." notes Wolf. In fact, Falcon provides engineering document management for all Windows-based documents in addition to its MicroStation and AutoCAD interfaces. Specifications, cost spreadsheets, proposals - any document regardless of file format - can easily be included in the Falcon database. And its multi-platform compatibility makes it simple to connect almost any computer hardware to the Falcon networked environment. Tippins' users who are comfortable with the Falcon MicroStation document manager dialog box will find the identical capabilities in the product's Windows-based document manager dialog box.
Implementing new systems should provide the user the ability to work smarter and more efficiently. With Falcon streamlining the document management and file control tasks associated with its thousands of CADD files, Tippins is able to keep focused on what it does best: providing world class rolling mills to the metals industry.
"[One] thing we really like about Falcon/DMS is that it supports all of the different platforms."
Adding new files to the database...is easier and faster. "What used to take me all night now only takes me three or four hours!"
"Falcon/DMS was very easy for users to learn. "It is pretty simple. There's basically just one menu and all of the buttons are right there for [users] to select."
In 1867 Los Angeles was a frontier community of adobe and frame houses and small buildings, huddled around a plaza with a total population of less than 5,000 people. Five of those citizens formed what they called the "Gas Works" under the official name of the Los Angeles Gas Company in June of 1867. This was the great grand daddy of today's Southern California Gas Company. The Gas Company (as it's known to local Californians) has grown from the original 5 founders to over 7,000 employees. The first few hundred feet of pipeline laid in the old Los Angeles Plaza has expanded to about 45,000 miles of transmission and distribution pipelines providing natural gas service to about 17 million people. It is part of an industry that has a million-mile network of underground pipe delivering its energy to fifty-five million American households and providing one-third of America's industrial energy needs.
Serving a territory of 23,000 square miles, Southern California Gas Company is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the country. With its customers located from central California to the Mexican border, The Gas Co. delivers about 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year. That comes to about five percent of all gas delivered in the United States. That's a lot of gas. And that adds up to a lot of electronic drawings to manage, too. That's why when Victor Dy, Systems Analyst for The Gas Co., was charged with going out and finding a new document management system to suit the utility company's needs, he knew what he was looking for. "We already had a drawing management product in place, but it was a very basic file transfer system and was not meeting out needs," says Dy. "We were having a lot of problems with it." Reliability problems compounded with the old software's inability to perform database searches led The Gas Co. to seek out a more dependable and robust document management system.
That search led Dy to tsaADVET's Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System. Since its introduction in 1989, Falcon/DMS has saved thousands of CADD users time and significantly increased their productivity by providing a quick and easy way to access documents. tsaADVET's document management software is currently in use in hundreds of companies worldwide, representing a wide variety of industries¾from food, beverage, pharmaceutical, chemical, and multi-faceted manufacturing companies to government operations to utility companies such as Southern California Gas Co. When Dy was writing the specs for the new document management system, he specified that the new system must run off of an Oracle database and must also include file search capabilities. During this time, however, there were other projects developing at The Gas Co., and workorder-sketching that involved workflow among departmental groups became yet another important consideration.
"We asked tsaADVET to provide all of those requirements," recalls Dy. "And they came through the first time." In fact, tsaADVET came through with its flagship product, Falcon/DMS. Even though the Oracle database wasn't available in Falcon/DMS at that time, Dy had enough faith in the developers to know that tsaADVET would deliver.
Since The Gas Co. first implemented Falcon/DMS in August 1994, Dy has worked closely with tsaADVET developers, who further customized the software for added functionality much of which is available to everyone today through the latest version of Falcon/DMS. Version 5 incorporates not only the ability to utilize Oracle as the main database but it also can be integrated with Sybase or Microsoft SQL, giving further flexibility to the already strong functionality inherent in Falcon. In addition, V5 is compatible with selected TCP/IP enviroments. It includes revision control, multiple environments control so that different environments can be established based on departmental or functional needs, support for long file and directory names, additional administrator-assigned database fields, and improved reporting capabilities.
The Gas Co. has 100+ users that use Falcon/DMS to access and control about 100,000 MicroStation drawings and scanned raster images dating back to 1927. Several operating groups within the utility company, including its GIS, Mapping Services, Geographic Analysis and Survey Groups, rely on their custom workflow and its integration with Falcon/DMS and its file search capabilities. The challenge is that they're all not located in The Gas Co.'s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Instead, some of the groups are up to 50 miles away—in Anaheim, in Compton, and in Redlands, Calif.
The Gas Co. has a central database located on the 21st floor of The Gas Company Tower in downtown Los Angeles, and has four distributed file servers located at remote sites. When a file is checked out from the central database, the file is then transferred from either a local server or remote server depending on the original file location. "The way we all work together is by using an FDS, a file distribution system which tsaADVET developed for us," explains Dy. "We must distribute files to different regions, sometimes two or three different regions. So we must have workflow and file search capabilities." Workflow is very important to The Gas Co., because once files are distributed, users, in turn, must know where to send the file next.
Also worth noting is that sometimes users may not know the exact file name, but may know some aspect of the project. He or she can query the Oracle database by keyword description or by site or region through Falcon/DMS to locate the file. In addition, The Gas Co. users requested having the ability to see the history of the file. "This is very important to us," notes Dy. "And Falcon/DMS meets that need." Falcon/DMS' session accounting capability gives The Gas Co. the ability to report on specific files. For instance, users can check to determine how many times a file has been accessed and/or the length of time a user was in graphics.
The Session Accounting Module can be used for a variety of purposes, for example, internal and external billings, background history when preparing new bids, and for tracking who is working on which projects. The system administrator can set up the Session Accounting Module to track a variety of fields in the database, and can set up specific reports using the data captured by the accounting module.
Since the utility upgraded to Falcon/DMS in 1996, its users are even more pleased with the product. According to an internal survey of its users, the top choice of what they liked most about Falcon/DMS V5 was its ability to upload and download any number of files at the same time.
Number two on the list, Dy adds, is that this version is much faster and more reliable sending and receiving files over its WAN. "Another thing that we really like about Falcon/DMS is that is supports all of the different platforms," says Dy. The Gas Co. required that Falcon/DMS run on DOS, UNIX, Windows NT and Windows 95. The only platform the company didn't insist on was the Macintosh.
Dy particularly likes adding new files to the database for new projects. Why? It's easier and faster, he says. "I can do this on my PC and all of the files are locally accessible. What used to take me all night long now only takes me three or four hours!" exclaims Dy. About the administration side of things, with the Document Manager feature of Falcon/DMS, Dy says: "The supervisors are very impressed with the new capabilities built in to Falcon/DMS V5."
Among those capabilities are the speed at which their users can search for files. "It is a lot faster," affirms Dy. And the supervisors also liked Falcon/DMS' ability to check out multiple files, and its file search capabilities.
As for the learning curve, Dy reports that it was very easy for users to learn. "It is pretty simple," he says. "There's basically just one menu and all of the buttons are right there for them to select. It's very easy on the user end."
And ease of use is of paramount importance when you take into consideration the 100,000+ drawings that The Gas Co. must manage in the course of the average business day. With 17 million customers relying on the utility company for heating, cooking, and many other household uses, The Gas Co. must deliver.
The deregulation of the gas industry has brought many new challenges and opportunities to utilities like the Southern California Gas Company, including such things as new, flexible transportation alternatives; more options for buying, selling, and moving gas; greater efficiencies in cost and time; and tools and technologies to enhance its services. Falcon/DMS plays a significant role in helping The Gas Company maintain its competitive edge by providing a valuable management tool to aid in improving its efficiencies and reducing its costs.