Leading rail network engineering consultancy Holland Railconsult generates up to two million technical drawings and specifications every year. The company enhanced its file sharing and archiving processes with Acrobat Professional and PDF.
Holland Railconsult is an engineering consultancy providing capacity, safety and integration solutions to some of the world’s busiest rail networks. Up to two million technical drawings and specifications are generated across the company every year from hundreds of different CAD, engineering and office applications. These documents need to be shared with clients who often don’t have access to the applications they were created in. Archiving the documents effectively also presents a challenge as software upgrades can make re-reading archived files problematic. Holland Railconsult needed an application that would make file sharing easy and would provide backwards compatibility into the distant future.
Holland Railconsult’s largest client, ProRail, had introduced PDF as a common standard for the storage of graphical CAD and text documents. Holland Railconsult had been using PDF on a small scale but this new client requirement generated the impetus to standardise on the format across the organisation. It was essential that the accuracy of the PDF produced was as good as that of the original CAD drawing: “We wanted to use software that would guarantee the creation of problem-free PDFs – no problems with PDFs that were created and no problems with the software that created them. For that reason we chose Adobe Acrobat Professional,” explained Ren? Dorleijn, Team Leader, Engineering Applications, Business Department, Holland Railconsult.
Back to the future
It was essential that Holland Railconsult partnered with a company that would be able to support its document archiving requirements far into the future: “Business continuity is important for us. We needed to be able to read documents ten to 20 years into the future and we wanted a company with an ongoing programme of product development,” Dorleijn continued.
Acrobat 7.0 Professional is now installed company-wide at Holland Railconsult and is available to all users: “We consider Acrobat to be a fundamental extension of the operating system,” emphasised Peter Dubbelman, IT Consultant, IT Department, Holland Railconsult.
Holland Railconsult has achieved all of its objectives since the roll-out of Acrobat. Documents from many different applications can be delivered to the customer in a format that can be universally read using the free Acrobat Reader. Both text and graphical documents can be consolidated into a single Acrobat document, improving presentation of client reports and making them easier to access and distribute. Documents can be commented on using Acrobat Reader and returned via email, which has increased customer satisfaction and reduced feedback times, all of which have enabled better communication and understanding and speeded project completion timescales.
Acrobat documents are backwards-compatible, meaning that even a document created using an early version of Acrobat can be opened with the newest version of Acrobat Reader. This is important for Holland Railconsult as it ensures that statutory obligations concerning archiving documents are met. Technical drawings can still be referred to in ten or 20 years time, and the longevity of the document is ensured.
Across the enterprise
Not only is Acrobat standard in the IT and Engineering divisions of the company, it is a universally accepted medium for document interchange, adopted in Marketing, Customer Service, Operations, Legal and HR. The ability of Acrobat to integrate seamlessly with existing applications is a key benefit for Holland Railconsult. Applications ranging from word processors, spreadsheets and CAD tools through to bespoke in-house packages including the Peoplesoft HR and Baan Financials systems all produce PDFs providing consistency and standardisation across the entire organisation. All this has meant a significant streamlining of Holland Railconsult’s business processes and the use of Adobe Acrobat is a daily integral part of the company’s operations, meaning significant efficiency gains across the board and enhanced internal and external communications.
Having successfully and effectively integrated Acrobat into its business as a document distribution and archiving medium, Holland Railconsult is keen to use some of the more advanced functionality available in version 7.0. To further enhance the archiving functionality, Holland Railconsult is investigating scanning incoming paper-based documents to PDF for storage and archive, to complete the record set of archived PDF data. Add to this the ability to archive emails as PDFs – again a feature that is available in Acrobat 7.0 – and Holland Railconsult will have created an end-to-end document management process that captures all project knowledge and is built on the firm foundation of Adobe Acrobat.