Define your goals . . .

    "To successfully launch an AutoEDMS implementation, I recommend starting with a pilot project, and work with your AutoEDMS VAR to fully define your short and long term goals."

    Roberto Ramirez Granados
    CAD Manager
    Altos Hornos de Mexico, S.A.

AHMSA, the second largest steelworks firm in Latin America, is using AutoEDMS to manage and control over one million documents in a multi-departmental setting via their corporate WAN. Roberto Ramirez Granados, AHMSA's CAD Manager, explains how the company's five seat AutoEDMS for DOS system has grown into 120+ users of AutoEDMS for Windows. He begins by providing us with background information on AHMSA.


HMSA, which stands for Altos Hornos de Mexico, S.A., is part of Grupo Acerero del Norte (GAN). GAN's operations are divided into four divisions - Steel, Chemicals, Mining and Energy, and their industrial activities are highly integrated. GAN has positioned itself as a leader in Mexico in the majority of its industrial activities - steel and urea production, thermal and metallurgical coal as well as the extraction of iron ore. It is the sole producer of Nitrogenous Solutions in Latin America. Most of GAN's industrial operations take place in their corporate headquarters located in Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico. Providing more than 20,000 direct jobs, GAN has branch offices in San Antonio, Texas, Caracas, Venezuela and Santiago, Chile. The Steel Division consists of AHMSA, and its subsidiaries, who have an annual capacity of 3.85 million metric tons of liquid steel - making it the second largest steelworks in Latin America and one of the top ten in North America.

How It All Began

AutoEDMS Version 2.1 for DOS was first installed in AHMSA's Engineering and Technical Division in 1993. Back then, our technical division had five PC's running AutoCAD R10 connected via a Novell LAN - though the total head count of engineers and technicians working in the department exceeded 150. The system worked fine, but the use of AutoEDMS was limited to the CAD department.

It was not until 1998 that AHMSA decided to extend AutoEDMS to all the PC's installed in the Technical Division. By this time, our network had grown from five PC's connected on a Novell server to a LAN with more than three NT servers and 120 Pentium machines, all connected to the Corporate WAN through satellite and fiber optics. We expanded and upgraded our system with AutoEDMS for Windows. The system was installed, customized in Spanish and fully operational in less than four weeks.

We now use AutoEDMS to manage and control over one million engineering documents and diagrams kept in our vault. We installed AutoEDMS along with a KIP 3820 Digital printing system and a library of optical disk drives capable of storing over 620 Gigabytes of data on-line. The KIP 3820 system includes a scanner and a Printfold folding machine that delivers the documents folded in A-size.

Today, AHMSA's electronic vault has over 140,000 AutoEDMS records and images on-line. The system is meeting our expectations and AHMSA is planning to expand the use of the system to more departments. Currently the main users of the system are the engineers within the Technical Division. Now users from the maintenance department are starting to use the system and are realizing the benefits of being able to look-up their drawings on-line at any time.

Life Before AutoEDMS

Before AutoEDMS, we had to drive or walk to the document vault, located in the basement of the engineering offices, every time we needed to consult a drawing. Getting a document copied usually meant spending at least a couple of hours, when lucky, if the work load in the copying department was not too high. This task included searching for the document in our drawing database - which consisted of over 60 1-1/2" binders containing the master drawing list.

Once we located the document(s) in the listing, we looked for the corresponding microfilm to verify if the information we were looking for was in this drawing. A "copy order" then had to be placed for the copying department to locate the original drawing in the vault. As it turned out, the original was sometimes lost or misplaced or so damaged that this task was not an easy one.

Now, with the new engineering document database being built with AutoEDMS, the information is accessed on-line by our users in just a few seconds. If the information has not already been scanned or when we need equipment drawings on-line, we first check a couple of weeks in advance to see if the documents are on-line. If the documents are not online, we send e-mail to the engineering vault operators in the basement requesting these documents to be scanned. Within a few days, thousands of documents can easily be scanned enabling us to search and access them on-line.

The AutoEDMS system is growing and is being used by more and more people every week  We looked for this kind of automation for years. We have been using CAD for over 10 years, and about three or four years ago, all of our engineering suppliers delivered their engineering documents to us in AutoCAD format - first on diskette and now on CD. The AutoEDMS system allows us to make sure all our technical information is on-line and backed up - an important step to avoid losing or damaging our originals.

The project was approved on the basis of our Authorized AutoEDMS Reseller, ECCE.CAD, being able to offer us a secure, fast and reliable medium to store, distribute and locate our documents. AutoEDMS compliments our efforts to achieve ISO 9000 and QS9000 certification. ECCE.CAD was selected as the system integrator after AHMSA analyzed several proposals. The AutoEDMS solution they presented provided a better cost/benefit ratio, better support and superior technology.

Key Benefits

These are some of the key benefits of our AutoEDMS installation:

  • Ability to capture originals from the vault, and place them on-line via the WAN
  • Ability to avoid loss of information and reworks due to originals not being available or damaged
  • Improving the productivity of the engineering department by enabling them to search and locate documents by project, discipline, department, equipment number, drawing number, etc.
  • Diminishes the space used to keep originals documents and drawings
  • Allows users to obtain copies, with the quality of originals, at a low cost and in less than
    an hour

Future Plans

AHMSA plans to implement additional floating licenses of AutoEDMS  which will be used by both the Maintenance and Purchasing departments.

Words of Advice

To successfully launch an implementation, I recommend starting with a Pilot Project, and working with your AutoEDMS VAR to fully define your short and long term goals. As a result of AHMSA's successful AutoEDMS installation, Hoogovens, one of our engineering consultation service providers, has decided to purchase and implement AutoEDMS. But . . . this is part of another successful story, and proof that the system works fine. "



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