Data Management

Adept EDM Tool Keeps AEC Firm on Track

15 Jul, 2004 By: Cadalyst Staff

Burkavage Design Associates straightens out its file management mess.


Architectural design firms that oversee the construction of hospital and university campuses must manage documents for a large number of building sites, all under construction simultaneously. Because multiple teams collaborate on the project, each with its own set of drawings and deadlines, keeping track of revisions and workflow can lead to expensive errors.

Burkavage Design Associates, an architectural and civil design firm that specializes in healthcare and educational construction projects, overcame these challenges by implementing Synergis Adept EDM (engineering document management) software. Based in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, Burkavage Design Associates has been in business since 1948 and has completed more than one billion dollars in construction projects, including hospitals, K-12 schools, universities, and industrial/corporate buildings. When the company lacked a document management system, "everyone did their own thing and had their own way of filing jobs. We experienced big problems with information getting misplaced, which led to wasted time looking for information," says Alan Harris, network administrator at Burkavage Design Associates.

Moving to an EDM System
Burkavage Design Associates learned about Synergis Technologies in 1997 when looking for a company to implement a full network system in its engineering department. Synergis set up the network and introduced Burkavage Design Associates to Adept.

"When we first installed Adept, I worked with Synergis to provide an hour-long introduction to the users, and they were ready to go. There were a few questions here and there, but the users picked it up very quickly, Harris notes. "We taught them the basic concepts by using an analogy to a public library: Find books in the card catalog, sign them out, work with them, and sign them back in."

The EDM system offers tremendous ease of use for users and administration, he says: "Implementation was invisible to the user. When it was complete, we went to each workstation, did a quick install, and we were done."

Burkavage Design Associates has kept its 20 licenses of Adept up to date over the years and is now using the current version. For design software, Burkavage uses AutoCAD, Architectural Desktop, Land Development Desktop, and AccuRender-all of which are managed by Adept.

Adept at Work
Burkavage Design Associates has completed thousands of projects throughout the course of using Adept. One noteworthy project was the design and construction of Brennan Hall for the University of Scranton in 2001.

"With drawings, correspondence, and photos, there were 3,000 files that had been generated from scratch and then managed by Adept.," says Harris.

Last year, Burkavage Design Associates completed an Emergency Department addition and renovations for Community Medical Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania (figure 1 and 2). The one-year project, which resulted in a single-story, 10,000-square-foot addition and renovations on an additional seven stories, required numerous design changes. Using Adept, Burkavage successfully tracked 1,000 files, including all versions of the design (figure 3).

figure
Figure 1. 3D rendering shows Scranton Community Medical Center project.

figure
Figure 2. A photograph of the Scranton Community Medical Center.

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Figure 3. A plan view of the Scranton Community Medical Center displayed in Adept's built-in viewer.

Project Structure
So how did Burkavage set up project structure in Adept? Harris explains:
"We have a naming convention that we use for libraries and everyone knows what that is going to be -- no one comes and asks where things are. If someone is out, another person can take over the project without having to spend an hour or so looking for all the relevant files. As administrator, I'm the only one with rights to set up folders, set user rights, and keep Adept up to date. We establish an Architecture, Civil, and Office Correspondence folder per job. We also have a Photo folder for images and aerial photos."

Harris sets up Adept so that all architects are given rights to sign documents into the Architecture folder. Likewise, civil engineers have rights to sign into the Civil folder. For all office correspondence, Harris sets up a Work-in-Progress folder as a "Checked Library," which requires a designated checker to approve a drawing before it can be signed back into its folder. With a Checked Library, the office manager also has greater control over what gets approved.

All architects, drafters, and engineers may sign out documents from the Work-in-Progress folder, however, when they sign them back in, an administrator is notified to review the documents. After the administrator approves documents, Adept automatically moves them into the Correspondence Library.

Autodesk Integration
Adept software helps ensure that the latest version of a construction drawing gets out to the field. "Without Adept, we'd have real problems finding and archiving files, Harris says. "We would also be overwriting files and losing work. Adept has really solved those issues."

Adept integrates with Autodesk software, so users at Burkavage Design Associates can access Adept right from an AutoCAD pull-down menu to sign files in and out and attach/detach xrefs. "There is zero time spent looking for a file. For instance, if you have an xref in a drawing that is not found by AutoCAD, Adept tracks that xref and tells you where it is," says Harris.

Burkavage Design Associates' staff is now using the Adept viewer to check and redline drawings, instead of printing out documents and marking them up. The viewer is also a valuable collaboration tool for sharing drawing information with those who don't know AutoCAD.

Future Plans
Currently, Burkavage Design Associates uses Adept strictly as an internal EDM system. In the future, the company plans to expand the system to give access to contractors who consult on different projects. Harris believes that Adept's ability to work on a WAN (wide area network) and across the Internet will make it easy to share files with remote consultants.

Overall, Adept has helped Burkavage Design Associates become organized across its different departments-architecture, civil, and administration. "Going to Adept made it possible to integrate all departments together so that everyone could see and share files. Adept moved in and took over. Adept is the boss and we couldn't live without it," Harris says.


About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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