By DE Editors
Headquartered in Switzerland, Fläkt Woods is one of the leading manufacturers of air-handling units and air terminal devices for non-residential buildings. It ranks second in fan production for cement plants, tunnels and subways. With more than 3,500 employees serving customers in 75 countries, Fläkt Woods generates more than $881 million in revenue annually.
In 2009, Fläkt Woods realized it required a solution for managing product designs and all other support documentation, which included CAD drawings, Microsoft Word files, Excel documents and PDFs. The company selected M-Files’ document management solution.
“Fläkt Woods initially utilized M-Files for the same reason as many other companies,” recalls Jouni Akras, IM manager at Fläkt Woods. “We were employing a standard, ad-hoc, folder-based system for storing and managing documentation, which was inefficient and error-prone. For example, important design documents were sometimes accidentally placed into the wrong folder location, or the same file was saved in multiple places—one version on a server, and one on a workstation.”
Management Through Metadata
The M-Files interface replaces the file-path trees—what you find in Windows Explorer or in the application dialogue boxes when saving or opening, for example —with a set of metadata fields. Instead of clicking through folder structures to indicate a location, users enter keywords that define the document, such as the product or customer associated with a project, or general categories, such as which phase a document in a particular workflow is in, or its status (“waiting for approval,” for example).
Along with date and author information, the metadata becomes the identification for the file, which is stored in one repository, or “vault.” M-Files removes the need to know the document location.
Fläkt Woods also connected the M-Files document vault to its main customer and supplier databases. The M-Files vault tracking system ensures that files are uniquely identified without multiple versions. “Check-in” and “check-out” features treat a collaborative document like a library book: Only one user at a time can modify the file, which prevents one user from overwriting another user’s edits, whether it is a 3D model or an Excel spreadsheet.
Fläkt Woods has a direct presence in 30 different countries throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The company generates a huge number of documents related to manufacturing and production, including design drawings, quality control documents, product reports, customer invoices and other business information.
“After the successful M-Files implementation in our design department, we decided to widen our M-Files deployment to other parts of the organization,” says Paul Ellison, business IM manager with Fläkt Woods.
In 2010, Fläkt Woods expanded its use of M-Files to its Global Infrastructure & Industry (GII) Växjö site, to provide a foundation for enforcing consistent quality management processes and to ensure all personnel are managing documentation according to standard operating procedures.
Reducing Design Errors
At its GII Växjö site, Fläkt Woods uses M-Files to implement process control mechanisms to ensure proper project management and document handling for ISO documentation, supplier invoice approval process automation, project reporting, and supplier agreement management.
Since implementing M-Files, the GII group has seen a significant reduction in design errors due to outdated versions of documents, which has resulted in fewer claims from quality issues.
With M-Files, Fläkt Woods can instantly see the current stage of a particular document workflow, have a clear understanding of changes that have taken place, and can follow all interactions that have taken place with customers and suppliers. Staff members can type in a certain project number and determine where it stands in the development process.
“The M-Files implementation in Fläkt Woods’ GII unit has enabled our project managers to efficiently handle the vast amount of technical, commercial and quality-related documentation associated with large commercial projects,” says Fredrik Albertson, general manager at Fläkt Woods GII Växjö. “By using M-Files to automate processes and implement strict workflow procedures on critical documents, we’ve radically reduced the number of manually introduced errors, resulting in higher quality products and improved profitability.”
This article was adapted from a case study originally published by M-Files. For more Fast Apps, visit deskeng.com/fastapp.