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Electronic archives of the engineering documentation: introduction
By the present moment many systems of document circulation (TDM, Workflow, PDM, PLM, CALS, PIM are created, electronic archives, control systems of product structure, etc.), but the question of electronic archive engineering (technical, design, design, etc.) documentation and systems of electronic document circulation remains to one of the most confused.

The quantity of abbreviations and reductions for a designation of this concept in English (TDM, Workflow, PDM, PLM, CALS, PIM) and Russian languages (electronic archive, document circulation, a control system of product structure, information support products, integrated logistics support, etc.) comes nearer to critical for understanding of an essence of the matter. The problem consists that all experts concerning the mentioned theme, in each of the listed abbreviations and reductions put the sense, frequently not so understanding, as they are connected with each other.

Given article is devoted this problem.

It is conditionally possible to name two groups of industries in which are initially used different terminology, principles of designing and registration of the design documentation:
- mechanical engineering, instrument making, shipbuilding, aircraft construction, motor industry, etc.;
- the block of the branches named industrial and civil building.

Even the designing subject in these two groups is called differently: in the first case – “a product” in the second – “object”. However such division is rather conditional: so, the installation standing on the earth, is an object which is under construction on an operation place, and the oil-extracting platform is the product made at factory. Though their design can be identical.

Almost in all cases we deal with difficult technical products and objects which consist of a large quantity of components (the ship, the nuclear reactor, nuclear or the thermal power station, oil refining installation, arms, etc.), therefore will be a question basically of them.

It is noticed that “for years of work cost of archive of the organisation can exceed cost of all its other actives” [Nuzhnenko S., Oreshkin А., Bogdanova I. How much document circulation now//CADmaster, #3, 2007. – P.42]. With this statement, undoubtedly, it is possible to agree: historically from activity of any organisation which is engaged in working out, manufacture and operation of similar products and objects, first of all, there are archives of the design and design documentation. The people who were at the beginnings of designing for a long time have left, can disappear and the companies which were engaged in it, and the ships and power stations even continue to work decades regularly, houses stand centuries, and in them there live people. Therefore the problem of creation of modern electronic archives of the engineering documentation and providing of access to them is extremely actual.

However all objects and products, as a rule, consist of set of the components connected among themselves in the diversified ways. And first of all we require the information on characteristics of these components, on ways of their communication with each other. For example, for repair or replacement of the pump it is necessary for us to know its overall dimensions, power consumption, productivity, fastening system, etc.

But the modern design and design documentation is arranged in such a manner that the person can understand it, only visually looking through. Search of the corresponding information also in most cases is carried out visually. And it imposes certain requirements to the archive organisation. It is possible to assert that on a global scale we should aspire to creation not electronic archives of the engineering documentation, and systems of storage of the engineering data in which the electronic design or design document – necessary, but it is far not a unique element of storage of the information.

Let's result a small example – creation of electronic archive.

In industrial and civil building classification of design documents by marks of the basic complete sets of working drawings [GOST 21.101-97 is standard. System of design documents for construction. The basic requirements to the design and working documentation]. In such kind the design documentation surrenders to the customer.

It would seem, repetition of this classification in electronic form at construction of structure of archive – a natural step. And yes, also is not present: on the one hand, the customer demands preservation in electronic archive of this structure of marks, volumes and albums. But with another – asks to generate other structure of projected object with access to the same design documentation which is in the structure constructed by a traditional principle.

As a result of the detailed analysis it is found out that it is required to realise four structures:
- structure of object of designing;
- structure of the documentation on the project;
- structure of stages of the project;
- structure of the documentation on contracts (one project can be carried out under several contracts).

Thus, we will formulate the basic requirement of the modern customer: “I should have possibility quickly to find in electronic archive everything that it is necessary for me, as in “paper” it is not possible to me!”. Attempts to solve the given problem, using traditional approaches, at least, are inefficient, and even are senseless.

Let's consider information support of life cycle of products/objects.

Today in the most different circles problems of a supply with information of life cycle of difficult products and objects are discussed. However, in many cases these discussions are reduced to questions of a supply with information of logistical support of functioning of products/objects and maintenance service and repair planning. And if is easier – to a problem of timely delivery of spare parts and accessories on maintained object. The reasons of this simplification are clear: such approach is most claimed, especially foreign customers.

From our point of view, it is necessary to approach to questions of creation of electronic archives of the design (design) documentation from positions of a supply with information of life cycle. After all product or object designing also is the major stage of real life cycle! Hence, than there is more than information at this stage it will be entered into electronic archive (or system of storage of the engineering data), its further use will be especially effective.

Thus, formation of electronic archive of the design organisation should be considered as the first stage of creation of system of a supply with information of life cycle of products and objects. Thus we abstract from problems of plurality of the organisations participating in the project, problems of privacy and the safety, often arising at designing and creation of similar products and objects, from problems raggedness of the purposes of the participating organisations, etc. Modern information and administrative technologies presume to solve all similar problems.

Let's consider aspects of introduction of archives of the engineering documentation.

Let's try to analyse, what functionality is requested by customers, trying to formulate the requirements to systems of electronic archive.

Let's consider archive of long-term storage and operative archive of the engineering documentation.

Steps of introduction of technologies of information support products In article “Steps of introduction of technologies of information support products” [Ryndin А., Rjabenky L., Tuchkov А., etc. Steps of introduction of technologies of information support products//CADmaster, #1, 2006. – P. 24] authors have tried to analyse sequence of introduction of technologies of information support products from electronic archive of the engineering documentation (TDM) to uniform system of information support of life cycle (PLM)

As we see, one of steps is “the uniform environment of designing of products and objects” providing formation of a uniform information field for work of all participants of technological process. In this information field all information under the project in the course of its working out should collect.

Today among designers there was a term “operative archive of the engineering documentation” in which the same sense, though, as a matter of fact, is put “the uniform environment of designing of products and objects” possibly, reflects an essence of the matter is better.

In practice importance of this step is underestimated. Actually all customers, saying words “electronic archive” mean not only archive of long-term storage, but also operative archive. And a demand of the last frequently above, than archive of long-term storage though to formulate to it requirements 10 times it is more difficult.

Let's consider structures of products and objects.

In both groups of branches at traditional designing structures of products displayed on a paper and objects are applied. In mechanical engineering and branches close to it the basic documents are the specifications which set reflects structure of products, as is legalised in Common system for design documentation.

In industrially-civil building the situation is different. According to System of design documents for construction, specifications and sheets here – the secondary documents accompanying drawings.

Actually for display of those or other products or objects depending on the purposes put by us the set of structures is used. Most a vivid example – shipbuilding. From the point of view of the builder the ship consists of the sections made separately, and gathers from them. The command considers it as set of decks and premises, and at all is not interested, as they have been constructed. From the point of view of functionality the ship consists of set of life-support systems, arms, etc. which the builder should create, and a command – to be able to maintain.

Thus, in ideal system possibility of formation of set of structures on the basis of the same data and documents should be provided.

The similar example from area industrial and civil building is resulted above.

Let's consider The attributive data of components.

At discussion of problems of creation of systems of electronic archive speak about various kinds of graphic documents (scanned, created in various CAD, etc.) much and only for a moment recollect the office: text and tabular (that is in Word and Excel). And thus absolutely forget about an essence of these “simple” office documents. And in them there can be a set of specifications on characteristics of a product and-or its components. Such information is absolutely necessary for the further stages of life cycles: for the order of components at building, for the analysis of possibilities of replacement, for that notorious problem of maintenance of information logistical support: at the traditional approach in created archive there are not structured documents containing this data, distinguish which person can only visually.

Let's consider planning systems.

For today the diversified systems of planning are really introduced. Are most extended among them MS Project and Primavera.

As soon as speech comes about creation of electronic archive, any customer at whom the planning system is already introduced, begins conversation on the interface between them. Psychologically it is absolutely clear. First, the structure of works is closely connected with object or product structure and if it already in any kind exists, nobody will want to repeat the done work once again.

Secondly, – and it, perhaps, the most important thing – the percent of execution of this or that work is brought in planning system manually on the basis of the subjective information from the executor of work. Even such simple thing as transfer from system of electronic archive in system of planning of the simple information on quantity of the documents which are in a certain condition (for example, on the coordination or the statement), delights the customer – it has objective data about a work course! And imagine, what will be reaction if the information by a componental part, for example about percent of components of the technological scheme already placed in 3D-model is deduced!

The planning system is connected not only with project structure, but also with introduced system of technical document circulation, namely – with a subsystem of delivery and an exchange of tasks between chief engineers of the project and departments, and also between departments of what it will be a question more low.

Let's notice that such questions arise at introduction of similar systems already today.

Let's consider systems of automation of designing.

If are not known, what systems of the automated designing will be used, it is impossible to recommend system of electronic archive. That is, of course, to create a warehouse of abstract documents in abstract structure it is possible (by and large, it and the file structure of OS is able), but to sense from it will not be any.

Experts, naturally, will object: “And procedures?. And safety?. And versions?. And changes?.” all is correct, however the essence will be emasculated: the electronic variant of traditional archive with a window at doors – at the best will turn out “the document has handed over”, “the document has accepted”.

The quantity specialised CAD (basically, constructed on the basis of standard) exceeds any reasonable limits: both building CAD, and architectural, and on internal engineering, and on external, and lightning protection, etc. Also we will notice that all of them were created with one clear purpose: as much as possible to automate designing process in this or that area. And they sometimes solve this purpose very successfully, sometimes not so.

But the majority used today specialised CAD are absolutely not ready to hand over the information in uniform system of storage of the engineering data, that is represent “closed” the systems focused not on data transmission in other subsystems, and on release of concrete engineering documents. Though what to transfer, in general, it is clear: structure of projected objects and products, their technical characteristics, componental structure, technical characteristics a component, probably, interrelations. And how to transfer, like too it is clear: there is an already actually standard technology of XML-files.

For last decade there was variety CAD which use idea of systems of databases for storage of the engineering information and consider documents as displays of these bases in a graphic or tabular kind. Unfortunately, while nobody has thought up, as these CAD should co-operate with others. For example, some known systems of designing of technological installations badly co-operate with architecturally-building. Though it is necessary to recognise that level “opennesses” these CAD 10 times more the traditional.

The conclusion is very simple – if we wish to build certain uniform through (complex) systems of designing should, at last, start to think not only of an essence of the problems solved in these or those CAD, but also about that, as well as whence to take the necessary initial data both where and how to hand over the received information, that is to provide “an openness” these CAD.

Let's consider 3D-models both 2D-drawings and schemes.

The large quantity of discussions is conducted about 3D-modelling of difficult objects. Mountains of copies break round thinking change designer, automatic generation of drawings and their interrelation with 3D-models, automatic reception of programs for machine tools with CNC, etc. The set of opinions expresses about automatic reception from 3D-models of structure of a product (or, in a simple way, specifications).

However discussed problems actually are reduced to quite traditional questions:
- unequivocal conformity of the components used in 3D-models, to qualifiers of standard details and components;
- conformity of standard sizes of these components to allowing lists;
- transfer of all specifications from 3D-model in system PDM and systems of storage of the engineering data;
- and, of course, release of specifications according to standard documents and qualifiers.

But we for some reason forget that except 3D-models there is still a weight of graphic documents from which also it is necessary to take structures of products, objects and their componental structure. These are technological schemes, electric drawings, drawings of measuring instrument and, at last, simply picture on which in a graphic kind structures of products and objects are presented.

By the way, creating 3D-models, in most cases linker can use only those components which are already included in the corresponding technological or electric scheme. And it means that at designing the system of storage of the engineering data is used not only for information gathering, but also for its delivery for the purpose of the further designing.

Let's consider qualifiers of standard products, accessories and materials.

The problem of application of qualifiers of standard products, accessories and materials is very closely connected with a question used CAD. Actually in all modern systems there are qualifiers of standard products and materials. However in the organisations there are corporate qualifiers and allowing lists for concrete projects which theoretically should be reflected in CAD. On the basis of these qualifiers specifications and various sheets (standard products, purchasing, etc.) are formed. If it is primary at designing standard products not delivered or not satisfying to technical requirements and especially the equipment are used, the serious redesign of a product or object can be demanded.

At later stages of life cycle of products/objects these sheets form a basis at drawing up of sheets of details and tools for difficult technique service. Both reliability, and competitiveness of products appear in the big dependence on availability of accessories for carrying out process equipment and repair.

At an operation phase a question on standard codification the parts and accessories leaves on the foreground. But from the point of view of creation and adjustment of systems it is an administrative problem: the uniform consistent approach to codification at least at branch level is necessary. And in offered systems such approach can be realised.

Today inconsistency of corporate qualifiers and allowing lists and the qualifiers applied in CAD and other applied programs (in particular, in settlement) is evident. The situation can be corrected only acceptance of the administrative decision on conducting corporate (or branch) qualifiers and creation of modules of their display in the formats used concrete CAD and other applied programs.

To be these corporate qualifiers owe all in the same corporate system of storage of the engineering data where the attributive data on concrete standard products should enter first of all, and in the second – variants of their representation in various CAD.

Let's consider technical (engineering) document circulation.

Technical (engineering) document circulation usually is meant as three moments:
- an exchange of tasks between chief engineers of the project and design departments and it is direct between departments (that is especially extended in sector of industrial and civil building);
- the coordination of technical documentation (drawings, schemes, specifications, sheets, etc.) and 3D-models;
- the statement of technical documentation (that is closely connected with a question of a digital signature and legal aspects of the statement of the engineering documentation).

Let's notice that the regulations of delivery of tasks usually are not registered, and if are registered in documents on certification of a control system by quality on ISO 9002 it is not carried out. Introduction of technical document circulation also provides to the full performance of regulations on ISO 9000.

If the customer means the decision of a question of the electronic coordination “by default” here the question of the electronic statement owing to legal aspects usually nonpluses it.

Let's consider administrative document circulation.

When we begin conversation on technical document circulation, speech and about document circulation of administrative documents sooner or later comes. Here it is necessary to mean two essential moments:
- Attempts to use system of administrative document circulation for engineering in most cases remain unsuccessful or unsatisfactory because of great volumes of the engineering documentation and specificity of the problems stated above;
- It is necessary to divide the administrative document circulation concerning to engineering (specification, coordination, etc.) from actually administrative document circulation (personnel, salary, etc.). It is clear that the first part is necessary for integrating into engineering document circulation, and the second can be included, and it is possible and to realise separately – it has no that historical value about which we spoke above. Though it is necessary to notice that the storage question too is actual: personnel, tax, pension and other information is stored by decades.

Let's consider a digital signature and legitimacy.

One of the basic questions still have a question on legitimacy of documents and the data. In the end of 2006 at last have been accepted “GOST 2.051-2006. Common system for design documentation. Electronic documents. General provisions” about electronic documents and “GOST R 34.10-2001. Information technology, cryptographic protection of the information. Processes of formation and check of the elektronno-digital signature”. But last really is not used yet. To deduce a digital signature on interaction level between the enterprises, their networks should be connected to the certification centers that interfered sometimes by security services of the enterprises.

While it is a question of a digital signature on electronic documents in this or that kind, all is more or less clear. But GOST 2.051-2006 (items 4.4) stipulates use of a digital signature and for legitimization of 3D-models (as aggregated electronic document). For today it is used by nobody also 3D-models are treated as the help information, however it is clear that in the near future the question of their legitimacy will rise very sharply. Presumably it will occur, as soon as will arise and exchange possibility by 3D-models between the enterprises will be claimed.

One more most serious question – legitimacy of systems of storage of the engineering data. There is number CAD (and not only CAD) in which documents are a reflexion of a condition of the saved up databases. That is the designer, the engineer or the designer in the course of designing by that or a different way enters the engineering data in DBMS. Upon termination of designing release of the traditional design and design documentation is carried out. It means that simultaneously to the documentation statement should occur and “the statement” (or “signing”) databases on which basis this documentation is created. Such systems already much, are most known TechnologiCS, PLANT-4D and a number of others.

TechnologiCS is a modern uniform electronic environment for teamwork of experts and divisions of the enterprise which provide the main task decision: output. The system allows to organise at qualitatively new level the co-ordinated work of designers, technologists, norm setters, economical and an industrial-dispatching office of service, logistics, shop dispatchers, technologists, up to masters. Being a kernel providing a continuity of information support of processes from working out of a design of a product to the control of its manufacturing, TechnologiCS it can organically be supplemented with the built in modules for automation of the decision of concrete engineering problems and foreign customised applications (CAD/CAM/CAE-sytems, settlement modules and programs, etc.).

TechnologiCS: the Initial given and solved problems Schematically the list of problems at which decision it can directly or indirectly be used IS TechnologiCS, and the initial data used for this purpose are presented in drawing.

All problems are grouped on the scheme on areas (are shown at the left and on the right) but as many of them are essentially crossed even such integrated grouping is rather conditional and it is resulted for descriptive reasons.

And who is responsible for a correctness of the data on which documents are based? Today standard documents of the answer to this question do not give.

Let's consider versions and changes.

Possibility of storage of versions of documents is considered one of basic in systems of electronic archive and electronic document circulation of the engineering documentation.

When it is a question of one document, all is more or less clear: But after all it exists not in itself, and enters into a certain complete set or an album. Also what, we have a new version of an album? And so on, up to the uppermost level – at us the new version of a product?

And procedures of carrying out of changes, in the general, no trivial (see GOST standards). It is obvious that such procedures have no relation to existing realities of the automated designing: And excuses about simple replacement of a file of the document and preservation of the previous version too no more than excuses.

Let's consider tool system.

The question about tool, that is about such standard delivered information system on which base the concrete system of electronic archive for the concrete enterprise will be under construction, is perceived by customers very painfully. The basic error is a firm confidence that in tool system already there is everything that is necessary for the customer. Really cost of works on introduction of similar systems, by our estimations, fluctuates from 30% to 500% from cost of tool system, depending on demanded functionality.

Tool systems differ features, attachment to this or that CAD (from which they usually have the general manufacturer), prevalence in this or that branch and the price. From our point of view, at today's level of integration with CAD basic arguments in favour of a choice of this or that tool system are prevalence in branch, the price and, the most important thing, absorptive experience of the prospective executor of works.

So, from the aforesaid follows that the quantity of nuances transforms a problem of creation of system of electronic archive and document circulation in poorly formalized. Usually the customer begins conversation with “analogue” paper archive, however already soon understands that all is much more difficult. And such situation, unfortunately, repeats actually at each enterprise.

Therefore we will try to formulate The concept of system engineering of electronic archive:
- The electronic archive of the engineering documentation is the first step to creation of system of storage of the engineering data. That, in turn, is the first step to creation of full-scale system of information support of life cycle of objects and-or products;
- In this connection special value is got by modules of reception of the engineering information from various CAD, settlement subsystems and other applied systems;
- As consequence, modules of generation of various reports, first of all – specifications, sheets, explications, etc. according to used systems of standardization are necessary;
- The system of carrying out of changes (audits) of documents, models and the data, strategy of distribution of these changes on structures of objects and products, and also management of unequivocal conformity between models, documents and the data have basic value;
- The administrative document circulation engineering and connected with it together with the module of communication with planning system is provided with transparent management and the control of process of designing;
- Strategy of use of a digital signature in relation to documents, models and the data has huge value.
In following drawings one of possible structures of similar system is presented.

The simplified structure of modern system of storage of the engineering data The simplified structure of modern system of storage of the engineering data
The simplified structure of modern system of storage of the engineering data The simplified structure of modern system of storage of the engineering data
The simplified structure of modern system of storage of the engineering data The simplified structure of modern system of storage of the engineering data

Undoubtedly, strategic decision-making on the specified questions, confirmed at the higher administrative level of the customer, will provide minimisation of problems at introduction.

As a result detailed functional specifications (that is the technical project) can be received only after careful inspection of the enterprise of the customer by the business analysts specialising in this area.

1. Tuchkov A. The introduction of electronic archives of the engineering documentation. Generalisation attempt//CADmaster, #3 (43), 2008 []
2. TechnologiCS 5 []

The author: Челябэнергопроект
Date: 07/22/2009

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