The Ranger Mine, operated by Australian company, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd, will this month implement major enhancements to its drawing management software to give site personnel, throughout its operations, immediate 24/7 access to essential engineering documentation.

Located in the Northern Territory, the mine has some 23,000 technical records that will now be managed by the system. These include electrical and structural engineering drawings and associated documentation such as equipment data sheets and specifications. Many of these will be subject to modification and update each day.

The changes occur as a result of new projects and ongoing developments. At the same time, the engineering data is of pivotal importance to maintenance work. The mine operates continuously and any equipment failures must be immediately fixed irrespective of the time of day. Using an incorrect version of a drawing during this maintenance work, could result in damage to vital equipment and systems.

It was against this background that, in late 2003, ERA undertook a detailed ‘critical risk assessment’ of the mine’s drawing management controls and procedures. This determined that the largely manual systems, then in place, posed an unacceptably high risk.

To resolve this issue, two principal decisions were made. First, to scan all relevant material into digital format to eliminate the chance of loss. Second, to implement advanced drawing management software. The key roles set for this proposed new IT application were to provide highly efficient document retrieval and meticulous document control. Included in those controls was the absolute importance of maintaining exacting version control. A major reason for this is to ensure there will never be any doubt if an accessed drawing is the latest version.

Also required were stringent automatic QA checks to ensure that company stipulated quality procedures are followed when creating a design or when making a change to an existing drawing. Underscoring all of this, was the need for the system to correctly store and back up all new and modified documents.

To achieve these scanning and document management objectives, ERA selected the Dv TDM software solution developed in Australia by Practical Programs . An initial implementation of this took place immediately after the critical risk assessment had taken place. Most engineering drawings and some related documentation were scanned into the system and this was then made available to a limited number of key staff using standalone IT servers.

In February of this year, ERA elected to substantially upgrade its use of Dv TDM software. This will now be deployed using web technology and, as such, will be directly available to all relevant staff throughout the mine, whenever and wherever needed. Further documentation will also be scanned in and automatically linked to information already held, thus providing a total database of all engineering data.