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AEC: Harza Northeast [MWH Global]

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In 2001, Harza Northeast's parent company, Harza Engineering Company, of Chicago, Illinois, merged with Montgomery Watson and is now known as MWH Global.

Harza Northeast is an architecture, engineering, construction management, and surveying firm located in Utica, NY. The firm has a wide client base, including Fortune 500 companies, municipal, state, and federal agencies, utilities, and colleges and universities. Its parent company, Harza Engineering, is located in Chicago, Illinois, with operating offices throughout the United States and in 20 other locations worldwide.

Among its varied client base is the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), which has utilized Harza Northeast's talents on a variety of projects. Harza Northeast designed the reconstruction of Route 7, a primary transportation route between Schenectady and Troy, NY, adding a center lane to improve safety along a 6.4-mile corridor that is traveled by over 21,000 vehicles each day. Harza Northeast was also selected by NYSDOT to design a replacement for the Fenimore Bridge over the Hudson River. The Fenimore Bridge had provided an important commercial transportation link and convenient access between scenic Washington and Saratoga Counties in New York State for over 80 years, but the structure had deteriorated to the point that it had to be temporarily closed to traffic in 1989. The challenge was to design the new bridge in such a way that would not disturb the original, which was built in 1906 and is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Another award-winning design by Harza Northeast is the 63,000-sq.-ft Quality Control Laboratory Building for Schering-Plough Corporation. Located in Union, New Jersey, this laboratory facility received R&D Magazine's Special Mention Award in their 1996 Laboratory of the Year awards program. Harza Northeast's diverse clientele also includes the Remington Arms Company. Remington, the nation's leading manufacturer of sporting firearms, looked to Harza Northeast for the renovation and conversion of part of a 100-year-old manufacturing space into a custom gun shop and museum.

All these projects require a lot of drawings! Ask Frank Dousharm, the man responsible for all of the computer and CADD systems at Harza Northeast, why he began searching for a document control system and he'll say: "We knew playing the game of 'Original-Original-Who-Has -The-Original' would be costly for us and our clients." Harza Northeast works with a massive amount of CADD drawings and realized early on that a file management structure would have to be put in place.

When NYSDOT awarded the architectural and engineering firm the contract for a new highway system in 1992, it was time to implement a file management system. "There were hundreds of drawings that were involved in that one project," recalls Dousharm, "And we wanted to be able to manage and keep track of our files efficiently." After investigating and testing four different document management solutions, the Falcon/DMS Electronic Document Management System from tsaADVET came out the winner.

Multi-platform and Multi-CADD Functionality

One of the main reasons Harza Northeast chose Falcon/DMS was the product's multiple platform functionality. "That was our main criteria," recalls Dousharm. "We run both UNIX Clippers and PC's, and the fact that Falcon/DMS supported both platforms was very important to us." Also important to Dousharm—and the 45 users at Harza Northeast—was a user-friendly interface. "And I'd say that the Falcon/DMS interface was much more straightforward than the others we'd looked at," he says.

Another feature extremely critical to Harza Northeast's operations was the ability of the document management system to support multiple CADD application packages. "We are an engineering and architectural firm," explains Dousharm. "Many of our clients use MicroStation and many use AutoCAD. We must be able to run both." Falcon/DMS has native internal interfaces within both, and all document management tasks can be performed from within MicroStation or AutoCAD graphics. CADD users at Harza Northeast can easily move from AutoCAD to MicroStation at any time on the nine workstations that are configured to run both programs with little change in Falcon/DMS functionality.

Since Harza Northeast installed Falcon/DMS in 1992, it has helped manage nearly 250 projects for the firm, involving thousands of drawings. "We brought in the engineering side first," recalls Dousharm. "Then we integrated it into other areas, such as civil/structural, environmental work, and municipality studies. We soon realized the advantage Falcon/DMS could provide for our architectural/interiors areas, too."

"The floor plan is the foundation of the architectural project," explains Dousharm. "And Falcon/DMS helps us keep track of the different floor plans for any of the different disciplines—whether it is architecture, mechanical, electrical, structural or interiors. Falcon/DMS allows us to maintain that floor plan in a protected mode, while making it available to all the other disciplines that may need it for background."

Another of the main benefits that Falcon/DMS affords Harza Northeast is considerable time savings as the firm realizes improved efficiencies by eliminating the need to regenerate lost data. "This results in significant savings," notes Dousharm. "It can amount to considerable time over the life of our projects." Falcon/DMS prevents multi-copying or unauthorized editing of design files. Unlike librarian systems that have only basic file locking capabilities, Falcon/DMS provides complete security via Access Control Files, File Status Access, and System-wide Toggles. System administrators can control the number of files that users may check out, or assign access to each Falcon/DMS menu command. Also, individual users or groups of users may utilize all menu functions while others may be limited to specific commands such as Copy, Move, or Delete.

Dousharm also likes the two levels of protection that Falcon/DMS provides for its 45 users. "If individual users made a mistake they can't easily recover from, they can get themselves out of trouble by retrieving the backup copy that's available locally or by starting over with the original file that is still on the server," he explains. These two options are available to the user before he or she has to request computer services support. Not having to go to the backup tape each time to retrieve a file has drastically reduced the support effort. Says Dousharm: "Users can support themselves. Without Falcon/DMS, the support function would have been a nightmare!"

The Falcon/DMS Digital Vault

The Falcon/DMS database acts as the digital vault for storage of all electronic documents. Its front-end scanner interface adds documents to the database as they are scanned. Its Windows-based document manager and its internal MicroStation and AutoCAD interfaces allow document creation, editing, moving, and copying quickly and easily. And its interface to a variety of printing and plotting engines allows the user to select a file, determine printing parameters such as number of copies and distribution, and output the file in one easy step.

Since all database records are stored in one digital vault, file access is fast and easy. This allows Harza Northeast users to utilize Falcon/DMS' file refresh capabilities. Users may update files in three different ways: By refreshing the server version with the file on which they are working locally; by refreshing their local file with the copy on the server; or by refreshing their local reference files with the latest copies on the server. In addition to retrieving files easily, Falcon/DMS also eliminates the need for duplicate corrections. In Harza Northeast's Civil/Structural Section, for example, the original site plan was stored in multiple locations. "Now by using Falcon/DMS, which stores files in a central location, the correction needs to be made only once," says Dousharm.

Not all of the users at Harza Northeast were Falcon/DMS advocates at first, however. "I had one user who told me that when she first heard we were going to implement a file management system, she thought it was going to be a hindrance. She believed it would slow her down, but she found out that it worked just the opposite," recalls Dousharm. "Today, she tells me, 'if you take it away, I will break your fingers!'"

Why the change of heart? "The ease of use of going from one project to another with the help of Falcon/DMS," says Dousharm. "Really, users like this ability that lets them easily work on multiple projects." Falcon/DMS allows the system manager to organize documents in directories up to six levels deep. Harza Northeast's document organization is identified by a project number. By simply selecting the project number directory, a user can quickly move from one project to another, and all documents available for that project and any sub-project directories can be quickly selected and downloaded. When the file is downloaded, its associated application is automatically launched.

Harza Northeast wasn't alone in realizing the many advantages that Falcon/DMS afforded. "Two years ago, Harza Engineering Company, our corporate headquarters in Chicago, recognized that they, too, needed to keep better track of their original documents. They did an independent study and also selected Falcon/DMS for document management control," notes Dousharm. To date, Falcon/DMS has helped manage more than 200 projects for the Chicago office.

Expansion for the Future

It won't be long before all Harza subsidiaries are using Falcon/DMS. "We are trying out a WAN application of Falcon/DMS between our New York office and the Chicago, California, and Washington offices," explains Dousharm. "Our ultimate goal is that any document will be accessible by any of Harza's 700+ employees. Where that original file is stored will be transparent to the end user."

Just as Falcon/DMS has been a tremendous benefit for Harza Northeast and Harza Engineering in Chicago, implementing Falcon/DMS over a WAN will be a tremendous benefit for the entire organization. "With the diversification of all the projects that we have going on here at Harza Northeast, I don't know what we'd do without Falcon/DMS," says Dousharm.

For all of the users at Harza Northeast—the designers, the engineers, and the architects—the game of 'Original-Original-Who-Has-The-Original' is forever over and everyone is a winner, thanks to Falcon/DMS.