Greg Huckett, Engineering and Design Manager for VLI Drilling, remembers the chaos of having files saved in a range of different locations. “With multiple people working on the same files, and stashing them all over the place – from the server to their own hard drives and FTP drives – it got very unwieldy.”
Today, through Autodesk Vault data management system, everything is organised, changes are trackable, and those who make the changes are accountable.
VLI designs specialised equipment for mining and materials handling industries, such as directional drill rigs. This involves storing and working with a huge amount of design files, which in the early days were all kept on a server.
“The number of drawings we were getting was horrendous. We had over fifteen thousand drawings and twenty thousand parts just for my own department,” Greg explains.
With multiple people working with each drawing, data would get deleted, people couldn’t find the latest version of files, or even know who had them and where they were.
Enter Vault. It provides VLI with a single repository for all its files and lifecycle and revision control, which prevents problems such as older versions being used, or changes accidentally being overwritten.
VLI has a diverse range of drilling products with a lot of commonality between parts and assemblies, so Vault’s ability to search where parts are used is very useful. This helps in deciding whether a new part is created, or existing parts are amended depending on their final use.
Vault also gets around time zone problems. Previously, staff had no idea who was working on a file, and couldn’t immediately check with colleagues overseas.
Now, once someone has checked out a file from Vault, it’s marked and flagged, so everyone knows who has it. Other users then have read-only access until the file is checked back in, so they can’t accidentally overwrite changes in progress.
Rapid, responsive support
VLI works closely with A2K Technologies on Vault upgrades and customisation. Greg says A2K’s ability to respond quickly, and even work around the clock, has been critical.
“A2K is a lot quicker than some of the other IT support we’ve had in the past. They can respond immediately and prioritise things, rather than taking a day or two, by which time it’s often too late.
When we recently upgraded Vault, A2K’s IT guy came up for the weekend. He worked day and night so that everything was done quickly and seamlessly by the next working week,” Greg says.
Another benefit of working with A2K has been remote IT support. VLI has branches in China, and when it needed to set up Vault overseas, A2K was able to help. The master Vault in Australia was replicated on other servers, which were shipped to the China office.
“We didn’t even need to fly over; A2K set up the servers here and loaded Vault onto them. After it arrived in China, they were able to set it up remotely, which saved a lot of time and the cost of sending a person out there,” Greg says.
New ideas for future projects
The next big project is to incorporate documents in two languages: Mandarin and English. Greg anticipates introducing Chinese drawings into the Australian mix at some point. The plan is to use Vault to capture the data regardless of language it is created in, and make it useful for everybody.
Currently, live data is projected into a document, so it’s dynamic rather than overwritten. The plan is to get both languages to work in the same way.
“We’ve already discussed a couple of ideas with A2K. They’ve always been able to come up with workarounds or suggestions for what we want to achieve; they’re great at problem solving. The team at A2K are very experienced and knowledgeable about the product.”
About Autodesk Vault
Autodesk Vault allows you to manage data associated with the digital model throughout the project lifecycle. Multiple users can work together without overwriting the other person’s data. Easily find, organise, copy and reuse the data to work more efficiently.
Part of the Autodesk Digital Prototyping solution, the Autodesk Vault family of data management software helps you keep track of all your digital design data and documentation.
It securely stores and manages data in a central location, helping teams quickly create, share, and reuse digital prototyping information. This approach dramatically improves engineering productivity and accelerates development cycles by synchronising the efforts of individual designers across the workgroup.
With Autodesk Vault Workgroup, Autodesk Vault Professional, and Autodesk Vault Office software, you’ll spend less time chasing down files and more time creating innovative designs.
VLI is a market leader in the supply of specialised equipment and allied services to coal mining and bulk materials handling industries.
VLI’s team of specialist personnel, employed throughout Australia, China and the US, work at the cutting edge of both technology and business systems. Their commitment to research and development enables VLI to deliver high quality, innovative solutions for all types of mining, transportation, bulk materials handling, loading and drilling activities.