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The comprehensive guide to engineering drawing management

Introduction

Strong and effective engineering drawing management is essential in many industries such as power, water, and mining, due to the vital role these drawings play in the design, construction, and maintenance of critical infrastructure and their impact in ensuring that these industries operate efficiently, safely, and reliably. 

In this article, we will explore engineering drawing management in these sectors, breaking down the best practices, challenges, and specific considerations for the power, water, and mining industries.

What's engineering drawing management?

Engineering drawing management involves the systematic organization, storage, retrieval, and control of engineering drawings throughout their lifecycle. In the power, water, and mining sectors, engineering drawings are critical to the design, construction, and maintenance of various infrastructure components. These drawings include equipment schematics, electrical and instrumentation diagrams, process flow diagrams, site plans, and piping and instrumentation diagrams.

Effective engineering drawing management is critical to ensuring that these industries operate efficiently, safely, and reliably, as poor engineering drawing management can result in errors, delays, increased costs, and safety incidents. Therefore, it is essential to follow best practices and address the specific challenges in these sectors.

Types of engineering drawings

Engineering drawings can come in various file types, each with its own benefit and limitation. Understanding each type's strengths and weaknesses will help your organization choose the type that best suit its needs.

Here are some common file types you will come across:

  1. AutoCAD (DWG): AutoCAD is one of the most widely used software for creating 2D and 3D engineering drawings. The DWG file format is native to AutoCAD and can be easily edited and shared among stakeholders.  DWGs can be large, making them difficult to store and share.

  2. Portable Document Format (PDF): PDF is a format that can be viewed on most devices and platforms, making sharing and distributing engineering drawings easy. PDF files are also smaller than DWG files, making them ideal for storage and archiving.  PDFs cannot be easily edited, and any changes require the original AutoCAD file.

  3. Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG): JPEG files are widely used for images and photos but can also be used for engineering drawings. JPEGs are not recommended for detailed engineering drawings as they can lose resolution and quality when compressed.

  4. Standard for the Exchange of Product Data (STEP): STEP is a file format used for 3D engineering drawings. The STEP format is widely supported by CAD software and is ideal for sharing complex 3D models among stakeholders. STEP files can be large, and not all software may be compatible with this format.

  5. Tagged Image File Format (TIF): TIF files are widely used for high-quality images and graphics, making them ideal for detailed engineering drawings. TIF files support multiple layers, high resolution, and lossless compression, ensuring that the quality of the original drawing is maintained. TIFs can be large, and not all software may support this format.

Factors such as compatibility, size, and editing capabilities will play a large role in determining if a file type meets the needs of your organization. Selecting a robust Drawing Management solution can provide file type flexibility by increasing your ability to store, share and mark up a broad range of file types. 

Engineering drawing management best practices

Effective engineering drawing management ensures that all stakeholders have access to accurate, complete, and up-to-date information, but in order to achieve this, an organisation must have the right drawing management processes in place. 

Below we outline our top 5 best practice tips for engineering drawing management:

  1. Use a Document Management System (DMS): A DMS, like RedEye, can help your organization manage engineering drawings by providing a centralized repository for storing, revising, and managing drawings. With a DMS, you can ensure that all stakeholders have access to the latest version of a drawing and can collaborate effectively.

  2. Implement Version Control: Strong version control can help ensure that all stakeholders, internal and external, are using the right and latest version of a drawing - this is not only vital for efficiency but also for safety. Version control can also help track changes to a drawing and ensure that changes are made in a controlled manner.

  3. Standardise Drawing Formats: Standardising drawing formats can help ensure that all drawings are consistent and can be easily understood by all stakeholders. This can help prevent errors and reduce the time required to review and approve drawings.

  4. Train Personnel: Training your team on what your organization considers to be best practice, ensures that all stakeholders are working in a consistent manner and understand the importance of accurate, complete, and up-to-date information. Training can also help ensure that personnel are using the DMS effectively and that they are following standard drawing formats and version control procedures.

  5. Monitor Compliance: Maintaining compliance with engineering drawing management is vital and good monitoring will ensure that all stakeholders are staying on track and following established procedures. This can help identify issues before they become problems and ensure that all stakeholders are using accurate, complete, and up-to-date information.

Westside's digital transformation

“We chose RedEye because of its clean-up ability, as we had such a disarray of information. That was the key reason for us because it gave us those tools to help go back and clean up our documents.”

Rob Trout, Digital Transformation Leader, WestSide

Read case study

 

Challenges in engineering drawing management

Achieving strong and effective engineering drawing management can present a few challenges to your organisation such as:

  1. Large Volume of Drawings: Sectors that involve large numbers of assets and infrastructure, typically possess large drawing libraries. Managing the large volume of drawings can be very difficult without a cloud-based central repository.

  2. Multiple Stakeholders: Engineering drawings may be required by multiple stakeholders, including contractors, subcontractors, consultants, and regulators. Managing the flow of information between these stakeholders can be challenging, especially if they are using different systems and standards.

  3. Technology Limitations: your organization might be using an outdated drawing management solution, which may not be compatible with current drawing management practices. Choosing the wrong solution can be expensive and time-consuming, and may require significant training and retooling.

  4. Information Security: Engineering drawings may contain sensitive and confidential information, such as intellectual property, trade secrets, and proprietary technology. Ensuring the security and confidentiality of this information is paramount, especially if drawings are shared with multiple stakeholders, so it is vital to ensure your chosen solution has a strong security policy. 

Conclusion

Effective engineering drawing management is critical for asset and infrastructure-owning sectors, such as power, water, and mining, as it can help ensure the safe and efficient operation of infrastructure and facilities. 

Through establishing strong policies and choosing a solution that follows best practices, your organisation can manage engineering drawings effectively, ensuring that all stakeholders have access to accurate and up-to-date information, whilst reducing the risk of errors and delays.  

Although your organization may face challenges in managing engineering drawings, by partnering with a trusted solution that works hand-in-hand with your industry, these challenges can be overcome by improving your engineering drawing management and transforming how you work in order to drive efficiency and safety.  

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If you're looking to improve your engineering drawing management, book a no-pressure personalised demo and see why RedEye is the trusted solution for over $450b worth of assets worldwide. 

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