Clyde Engineering gets document management on track

Clyde Engineering gets document management on track

Designing and manufacturing new railway vehicles is a complex task requiring thousands of drawing plans that must be precise in terms of design accuracy and compliance with industry standards.

For Clyde Engineering, one of Australia's leading rail vehicle manufacturers and a subsidiary of Evans Deakin Industries, the management of rail vehicle production is further complicated by the need to quickly and efficiently transfer drawing plans between its Sydney headquarters and regional and interstate manufacturing operations.

Document management allows Clyde Engineering to move complex drawings from plant to plant.

To address its complex document management and transfer requirements, Clyde Engineering has implemented CompuTechnics' Objective Enterprise Document Management Solution.

According to Clyde Engineering, document management has already played a pivotal role in the management of Clyde Engineering's major contract to design and produce 30 locomotives for WestRail in Western Australia.

Clyde Engineering has discovered substantial benefits through its ability to electronically deliver vehicle drawing plans to plants in Melbourne, Perth and Bathurst almost immediately, rather than waiting around for days to receive hard copy drawings by mail.

"This has eliminated the queues for the reproduction and dispatch of the drawings, which often led to delays of up to a week," said Clyde Engineering's quality and information technology executive manager Bob Cantwell.

"Now the drawings can be forwarded quickly to our manufacturing plants enabling them to purchase the necessary supplies and start the job of manufacturing. A drawing is now available in Perth within a few hours of its release in Sydney compared to the four hours to five days it once took.

"We have replaced our old reproduction process which has cut costs and eliminated the health and safety hazard it presented due to its use of ammonia based technology."

Also eliminated is the need to maintain libraries of drawing prints in each plant.

Mr Cantwell said Objective was cost justified on the basis of a 1.8 year payback period.

"Our financial rules are such that investments should return funds within three years through recurring savings. Objective is well within the scale of cost justification," he said.

John Harriott, national sales and marketing manager with CompuTechnics, said Clyde Engineering was faced with the internal challenge of turning its documents and CAD drawings around to meet customer expectations.

"In the business of locomotive building, there are large quantities of documents and drawings, that are drawn upon or referred to, to complete construction to customers specifications," he said. "With specifications in different cities, the process of consultation and referral of drawings was time consuming and slow. The implementation of Objective allowed instantaneous access to the library of drawings and enabled required specialists to deliver on time," said Mr Harriott.

Rail vehicle designers at Clyde Engineering use PCs which are connected by a WAN to the plants, enabling electronic transfer. CompuTechnics enhanced this solution by writing an interface to the image display product, called Slick!

By having an interface between Objective and Slick!, Clyde Engineering have a solution to transfer and display images.

Objective retrieves drawings from the database and launches Slick!, which displays the drawing. Drawings on the database are compressed, taking up less space and reducing the transmission time to remote PCs.

The document management system allows draftsmen and production engineers to make notations on the design without changing the original drawing. These notations and the image can be transferred back and forth between the plant and engineers.

Mr Cantwell explained: "The plant can make a query by making an electronic notation on a plan, which is mailed back to the engineer or chief draftsman for a response.

"CompuTechnics customised Objective so that any notations are superimposed on the drawing. Previously to sort out a design query might have taken three or four days using fax or the overnight mailbag.

"Keeping in mind our future technology and electronic data distribution requirements, we felt very comfortable with CompuTechnics because it is a local company," said Mr Cantwell. "The other products we looked at were imported. This meant we would be talking to a distributor who would then have to talk to the principal and that can become very tedious."

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