Any large public works project is bound to create mountains’ worth of documentation. Each design document and engineering file has a role to play and has to be stored to serve as a vital reference as the infrastructure ages and requires maintenance.
This can be a very complex task, and it is a compelling reason to use a design document management system like Autodesk Vault, which helps organizations efficiently manage and track CAD files as they go through the design process from first draft to finished product.
So, you can only imagine the documentation needed by the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a canal system that delivers 1.5 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to central and southern Arizona every year through 336 miles of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants and pipelines. With a greater need for data updates caused by increased changes to systems and equipment repairs, CAP needed to find a way to maintain their historical record drawings in a more efficient way.
Fortunately, the Central Arizona Project was able to surmount these challenges by implementing Autodesk Vault Professional and changing their approach on how CADD work is traditionally performed within the utility operations and maintenance sector. By dovetailing both items together, CAP more than doubled its workload capacity.
To discuss the process in more detail, Holly Forden, CAP’s Drawing Services Supervisor gave an interview in which she discussed the challenges confronting CAP, how she and her team challenged the status quo within the utility operations and maintenance industry, and ultimately, the benefits that it yielded for them.
Here is what she had to say:
Interviewer: What are the greatest challenges CAP has come across?
Holly Forden: Central Arizona Project (CAP) was facing the typical challenges that most established operations and maintenance industries are confronted with today: aging infrastructure and employee attrition by retirement that is complicated with the potential loss of historical data created by both of these conditions. When the demands of an aging infrastructure increases, so does the amount of workload placed upon personnel to keep critical historical record drawings up to date in an expeditious manner. Typically, and industry wide, staffing is not being increased to match these escalating conditions. Finding innovative solutions to augment, automate and accelerate workload efficiencies, while maintaining quality and document integrity is becoming a constant requirement to remain successful in the utility operations and maintenance sector.
Interviewer: How has CAP dealt with these challenges?
Holly Forden: We started by applying substantial productivity gains by implementing innovative CADD (computer aided design and drafting) techniques and simplifying previous CADD standards to match industry standards. We then implemented Autodesk Vault Professional in our daily engineering business practices and integrated it with our existing enterprise document management system. Talk about creating a disruption to CAP’s status quo! CAP was already using an enterprise document management system and the idea of using a secondary system that connected with the enterprise system was really thinking outside of the box. This challenged everyone that was making the business decisions and took some convincing to sell the idea. The impact it would have on reducing backlogs and workloads would be so eventful that it was in CAP’s (and the taxpayers’) best interest to do so.
Interviewer: Was a goal set in place at this point?
Holly Forden: Yes, the goal was to augment, automate and accelerate as much as possible, we left no stone unturned and micro-analyzed every aspect of how we performed our daily work to make substantial and quantitative improvements. If we could automate manual repetitive tasks, we did. Implementing Vault Professional was a result of setting extremely high goals and expectations and then meeting and exceeding them.
Interviewer: How did you approach the Autodesk Vault Professional implementation?
Holly Forden: Having personal experience implementing Vault Professional in a previous position with another company, I was able to prepare my team and bring them up to speed on the unlimited opportunities and challenges we would encounter. Everyone knew at inception that we were designing a very sophisticated and complex Vault environment that focused on creating efficiency gains, transparent workloads and ease of use. Our end goal was to make every user’s job easier. For that reason, the team that was providing the solution had to be very open to new ideas and solutions. We even disrupted ourselves in how we individually thought about workflows and systems. Each member of the team had the freedom to challenge each other’s status quo and that created a very successful outcome and pushed our solution to a higher level of performance.
Interviewer: Can you walk us through the biggest contributors to the successful implementation?
Holly Forden: Yes, it has been the culmination of re-imagining how work is typically completed. By dovetailing those innovations into a very successful Vault Professional implementation and integration project, the results have propelled our success to unprecedented levels. That meant breaking away from industry norms and changing the approach on software training and use.
Of course, in the end the people factor plays an enormous part in the success equation and none of this would have been possible without the teams within CAP, including IT, Drawing Services, Engineering Resources and Maintenance Reliability, that supported and participated in discovery, testing, training and eventually the adoption of the use of CAP’s Vault. We also relied heavily on our external team of partners during the implementation; Autodesk Consulting for system design, deployment and training and KETIV for custom user manuals.
Interviewer: Can you share how these changes have contributed to your business growth?
Holly Forden: After applying substantial productivity gains with innovation and reimagined CADD Standards that dovetailed into our Vault implementation and integration design, we have doubled our capacity to process workloads with the same staffing levels. We now have the ability to manage and work on concurrent designs, as-builts and record drawing lifecycles while maintaining a high quality and integrity level on each document. With our ingenuity, it has allowed the ability to resource workloads at a greater level and detail than that of industry standard approaches. All of this allows the Drawing Services Department to excel in customer service and explore opportunities to engage deeper into design projects, lead our external consultants during project activities and develop deeper engineer-designer relationships.
To read the full interview with the Central Arizona Project, click HERE.