American Brewing Company
When you think Anheuser-Busch Companies, you may think about raising your glass and making a toast. You might not realize that while it is the world's largest brewing company, Anheuser-Busch is also the second-largest U.S. manufacturer of aluminum beverage containers, and one of the largest theme-park operators in the United States. In 2010 its brewing subsidiary, Anheuser-Busch Inc., which makes Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch beer to name just a few brands, accounted for more than 45 percent of the total brewing market share in the U.S.
With nearly 1,000 people, the Anheuser-Busch Corporate Engineering group provides engineering support for a variety of projects, including expansions and modernizations for all of its domestic breweries, as well as its Metal Container Corporation can-making plants. The Corporate Engineering group also provides support such as electrical control work for the shark tanks at the Company's Sea World theme parks in Ohio, Florida and California.
The St. Louis-based beer magnate, which has 12 breweries domestically scattered between California and Virginia, selected tsaADVET's Falcon Electronic Document Management System as its document management solution of choice. For now, Anheuser-Busch has about 60 Falcon users on its network. That's soon to change as shortly, Falcon will enable remote users such as Anheuser-Busch's consulting firms and other support staff in various offices to access drawings located in the St. Louis headquarters.
Falcon DMS: Solution of Choice
Anheuser-Busch Corporate Engineering group's decision to go with Falcon came about as a cross-section of employees teamed up to determine what the department's document management system as a whole needed to be. Debbie Wilson, an Anheuser-Busch systems engineer who specializes in CADD systems, how this team pulled together to determine the best document management system to suit all of their needs.
"Our team consisted of many different disciplines. There were engineers, application programmers, administrative employees, project support employees, and myself, from a system support side. Each person came from a different area of expertise," explains Wilson.
End users, such as engineers, wanted an easy interface so that they could quickly query the system to find the files they wanted to view or plot. Administration employees wanted to get data entered as easily as possible and were looking to be comfortable with a new "electronic vault" system.
"For me, I wanted the system to be secure and also to act seamlessly with MicroStation," Wilson added. MicroStation is the standard for CADD software within Anheuser-Busch.
With everyone's needs in mind, a list of functional requirements and technical specifications were defined and agreed upon. They provided the document management features needed while maintaining compliance with Anheuser-Busch's existing network configuration. Falcon is network operating system independent, and is compatible with DOS and UNIX-based systems that utilize logical drive connections or NFS mounts between the client workstation and the server, such as Windows NT, Novell, LAN Manager, Banyan, Pathworks, NFS, as well as selected TCP/IP environments.
Once their needs were defined, Wilson and other members of the Anheuser-Busch team attended several trade shows and conferences and "did some shopping around." A long list of possibilities were drawn up, recalls Wilson. From there, the list was whittled down to about ten companies that were invited to bid based on their perceived ability to meet the desired specifications. "Of those ten companies, tsaADVET and its Falcon product clearly rose to the top as the only choice for us based on cost, performance, seamless integration with MicroStation, and tsaADVET's agreement to port the database to Sybase," notes Wilson. "The cost was right. And the functionality, ease of installation and setup, ease of use, and maintenance of Falcon are all superior."
Getting started with Falcon is indeed simple. An easy-to-follow Setup Wizard takes you through the set-up configuration process one step at a time. Once up and running, Falcon's Document Manager interface puts you in total control of all the files on the network. Move them, retrieve them, copy or rename them, add new files, find out file location, and search your database quickly and easily with the Document Manager.
Internal MicroStation Interface
One of the major functional requirements for document management within Anheuser- Busch that Falcon met was its ability to access and manage files from within MicroStation. "A lot of other document management software that we reviewed wouldn't let you launch the application from within it," Wilson points out. "They also couldn't handle reference and raster files the way Falcon can."
When a CADD file is accessed for modification, Falcon automatically identifies and downloads from the server all MicroStation reference files that are associated with the active MicroStation design file. At the System Administrator's option, downloading of reference files may be turned off, or the user may tag selected reference files for downloading.
Also, as Wilson mentioned, Falcon allows you to check out any type of document while automatically launching the associated application. In addition to the internal MicroStation MDL interface, Falcon provides the same internal functionality from within AutoCAD. For non-CADD documents, such as Excel, WordPerfect, PowerPoint, or any other Windows-based application, Falcon automatically launches the appropriate application when a file is selected. And Falcon allows you to group files so that at your option you can download an entire folder containing, for example, the CADD file, a supporting specification from a word processing application, and a spreadsheet. "Right now, we're using Falcon mainly to check in and check out CADD drawings," explains Wilson. It's not unusual for a hundred drawings at a time to be checked out for use by one of Anheuser-Busch's engineering consultant partners. "By controlling these drawings, this ensures that only one person has an original at one time. It makes juggling control of files a lot easier," notes Wilson. And control is what Falcon is all about. One of the features that Wilson especially likes about Falcon is its security capabilities that enable either group or individual access privileges to be set up. Falcon provides complete security via its Access Control by Group and Access Control by User functions that allow the system manager to give or limit menu functions and editing privileges. This can be done by an individual user or by groups of users. Wilson, for example, can control the number of files that users may check out; and, at her discretion, individual users or groups may utilize all menu items while others are limited to specific commands such as Copy, Move, or Delete.
Prior to installing tsaADVET's document management software, Anheuser-Busch's method of tracking documents involved a text list that was supposed to be checked off as files moved from one location to the next. "It was really prone to error," recalls Wilson. "A nightmare! And we were always having problems with duplicate originals. It was basically a full-time job keeping track of who had what file," she says, adding that a simple typographical error might create a big problem. Says Wilson: "Falcon has freed up our systems support employees to do the job they're meant to do, instead of tracking drawings."
Another advantage to Falcon is that it allows the system manager to determine if files are to be worked on over the network or downloaded to an individual's workstation. At Anheuser-Busch, all of the work gets done on the user's local workstation. "It's much more efficient [than our old VAX system] because now that all of the work is done locally, the network traffic has been substantially reduced." says Wilson. The network is loaded only as the CADD group downloads or uploads its files, typically at the beginning and end of the workday. "There's much less load on our network now during the bulk of the business day."
Any company that satisfies almost 50% of the market as Anheuser-Busch does with its brewed products needs to continually work to make sure its manufacturing processes stay current and competitive. Falcon provides Anheuser-Busch with a tool that allows its CADD operation to keep pace with the constant modernizations and process changes and additions that the Company needs to maintain its competitive edge.