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From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 16 No 09 - SETEMBER/OCTOBER 2003
Cyco's AutoManager TeamWork has been described as Meridian Lite! David Chadwick looks at Cyco's document management solutions for 2003, and explains the difference between both.
What is a good document management system? The most obvious answer is that anyone in the company should find it easy to save, locate and print any document, wherever it may be stored, pertaining to their function. The second is that documents should be secure, inaccessible to those without authorised access, with a clearly defined history and hierarchy.
Most important, though, is not what the software does - but how it does it. It should reflect the way people normally work - how they have always worked - and not force users to change their working practices to accommodate a new regime. Most successful companies have spent years refining their working practices, and are generally comfortable with them, and although a new EDM system should encourage some modification to the way in which people do things, any attempt at wholesale interference will raise the hackles of the its users, and discourage its adoption. An EDM system that offers seamless integration with current office practice guarantees wholehearted support from the workforce.
This is the fundamental premise that Cyco have worked on. Cyco software is one of the more widely respected suppliers of document management systems. It is well known in manufacturing industries, where its AutoManager Meridian provides a background for integrated product development and reduces time-to-market for fast moving consumer goods. It is less well known in the AEC market.
It does, however, provide a very useful tool for Facilities Management, reducing FM costs, increasing service levels, and, quite importantly, enforces regulatory standards. It can also assist in Asset Management, reducing process downtime for plant owners and asset maintenance costs. Utilities can also use it for keeping maintenance offices and field engineers in contact, helping to keep all infrastructure data up to data, and instantly available. In short, it can be used throughout the civil engineering industry, providing a means of archiving data, an efficient reporting structure enabling System Managers to produce detailed and comprehensive management reports, printing - and full web support.
AutoManager Meridian and Teamwork
Prior to the release of AutoManager Meridian and TeamWork, Cyco had an earlier version called AutoManager WorkFlow, aimed principally at smaller engineering companies - up to about 50 employees. Meridian and TeamWork have replaced WorkFlow, with the latter capable of being described as Meridian Lite. Whilst Meridian is designed as a company wide solution serving 100 users plus, with full customisation capabilities, TeamWork is aimed at departments with up to 30 users, and, although it contains similar functionality to the core Meridian product, can only be configured to match users requirements.
New Features for 2003
As well as providing full support for AutoCAD 2004, and its supporting packages, AutoManager Meridian and Teamwork have brought in a range of other useful features, improving CAD Links, web access, the way in which the viewers operate, its programming and customisation functions, and its usability. Other new features like reporting, offline archiving and hybrid document support also simplify the migration for AM-WorkFlow users to AM-Meridian or AM-TeamWork.
Both of the new products enable users to get more info from their systems whether it is as reports, through an archive or over the Internet. The 2003 versions also introduce support for Microstation V8, making AutoManager a suitable solution for environments where multiple CAD applications are used.
AutoManager Merdidan and TeamWork are compatible with the latest versions of Autodesk's products, the 2004 series. It also enables AutoCAD users to use VoloView or VoloView Express to view AutoCAD drawings (and others, as well). It requires ObjectDBX, however to viewnative AutoCAD 2004 drawings, automatically enabled when they are viewed. ObjectDBX libraries are also installed within AutoManager to view pre-2004 drawings as well.
A major function of a document management system is efficient archiving of historical documents, important for audit purposes, as well as for converting space hungry filing systems into digital records. It also allows users to remove and store documents that are no longer required, freeing up space on their servers. AutoManager 2003 now allows archiving of data to remote locations, increasing the security of the documents. You can back up the archive by your normal backup media, DAT, CD Jukebox etc
The process is very simple, and is handled using the AutoManager Administrator, which invokes a wizard, where you can choose the vault and which folder to archive. The location is defined, wherever it may be, and what format the metadata should be stored in, and the documents are exported to the folder. Users can choose which versions to archive, either current revisions only, all revision of documents, or all revisions older than a set number of days.
Archiving can only be executed from the AutoManager Administrator utility, which resides on the EDM server giving added security. General users are normally kept well away from the vault, and cannot, either, access archived documents.
Cyco has added watermarking to the draft printing capability. options set dynamically from VB script. This means that you can enforce all prints taken in AutoManager to contain a consistent message, such as "Uncontrolled Document" or "Valid until (date)", etc. System administrators do the configuration of the watermarking format using the Configurator utility.
Previews of print jobs are available from the "Document" menu, from where users can choose and configure the printer and select a number of print options. Selecting "OK", brings up the print preview with the watermark configured if it has been activated. Documents can be viewed in detail by using the zoom button..
Reports can be set up using the AutoManager Configurator utility. Reporting is based upon the results of a collection of files, or upon the contents of an individual folder. They can only be created through a PowerUser client, using the "Reports" command from the VAULT menu, which gives a list of the sample report configurations held in the AM-Configurator. The properties button allows users to view the selection of report styles available. Use the select button to create a new report.
A dialogue box lists the 'scope' of the report - i.e., the available collections, folders, or saved searches, and the "Format" - a list of all MS Office templates or alternative report formats such as Microsoft Access.
Selecting, say, a Microsoft Excel Workbook, and clicking on the 'Generate' button "Generate" button, the tab name is configured with the name of the "Report Format" page in the report definition. The order of columns, from left to right, is determined from the "Report Data" page in the report definition. The worksheet is not saved until you save it with the Excel save command, so that generating the report may be regarded as a preview, if you do not save the file. The "Text File" option for report format creates a simple text file of comma-delimited fields. If a report is created using one of the named MS Word templates, then the report can be much more detailed:
For some years, now, it has been possible to scan older paper documents into a digital format. Digital formats can be one of many file types: TIF, JPG, CAL, MIL, CG4, RLC etc. Scanned image are imported into AutoManager and managed as document's in their own right, even digital photographs from projects.
Raster and vector formats can be scanned and saved as individual document types, but now they can be combined into one document, merging the scanned image with, say, a CAD drawing, using the AutoManager Configurator, and configuring them as a Hybrid Document.
The raster image file is imported into the system, and the configurator prompts for the document type. A new Hybrid drawing document is created in AutoManager either using the PowerUser client, or by saving to the vault from with the Hybrid CAD application (such as CadOverlay). The file is opened in the Hybrid CAD application,and the image file from the vault is scaled, positioned and inserted. On saving, the file is attached as a hybrid part of the main CAD file and is moved to the correct sub-document location in the vault.
Read Only Access
It is now possible to allow read-only web access to the AutoManager Meridian/TeamWork vault, by giving a direct URL to open the vault with a known search result. Using the results of a dynamic collection as part of the criteria for the user to open the vault, administrators can give the user access to the documents that they want them to see. Alternatively, if users have a "copy outside vault" privilege, they will be allowed to download documents, using the appropriate icon on the toolbar.
AutoManager supports multiple CAD formats - AutoCAD, Micrfostation as well as Inventor and SolidWorks for mechanical engineers, a range of document formats including Microsoft office and Adobe, and back-end databases such as Microsoft SQL and Oracle and some industry specific solution such as Archibus, Autodesk Streamline and MRO Maximo. It is based on client/server architecture, and is scaleable from a departmental level up to division level.
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