A question surely to be asked by many organisations
sometime in the future. With techniques, especially in information
technology changing so quickly, keeping track of project documentation
and records is likely to become a significant challenge.
A good example is the construction industry. What
happens in say 20 years time when a complex project is to be upgraded or
repairs are required. Knowing the original details can make the
difference between a practical and economic undertaking and one
requiring either extensive investigations or a conservative solution.
To ensure a safe and clean water supply for the
residents of Yorke Peninsula, the South Australian Water Corporation
recently constructed two new membrane lined and covered reservoirs at
Upper Paskeville. In addition to aspects such as buried pipework the
project required significant intricate construction procedures which
were deemed important to record in detail to aid the tracking of any
problems which could possibly arise.
The traditional method for recording these details
were ‘as constructed drawings’, docketing the many written records and
since the late 1800’s surprisingly good photographs. Many of the old
drawings, especially from the 1800’s were works of art, often drawn in
colour. But as time went by the vaults grew larger, the tracking
process became more difficult and the dust deeper. Microfiche came to
the rescue but the quality of the records were lost. With the drive for
greater efficiency, organisations could no longer afford to keep and
maintain these valuable records.
But the need for these records was becoming ever
more essential as the amount of infrastructure and other projects grew.
Also, it was becoming more evident that good as they were, many of the
old records often didn’t have the information required.
To address this the consulting engineers for the
Upper Paskeville Reservoir project, Arup Water, looked to the use of
electronic records and computers. One major problem was the continuing
development of computers and computer programs and the uncertainty this
provided for reviewing the records in the future. A slim possibility
seemed to be one of the computer aided drafting (CAD) packages used by
As it turned out, the CAD package QikDraw had long
been used by Blackwood High School. With the challenge of a SASE
moderation of a student project the idea of providing a link from
drawing to drawing to enable the moderator to easily navigate around the
work was born. Using this ‘Hot Link’ facility, the QikDraw package was
used to record the construction of a new concrete framed building at the
University of Adelaide by linking construction drawings with digital
photographs and written descriptions. The intended purpose of this was
to assist in the training of civil engineering students and it was very
successful in demonstrating details that in the past could only be seen
in time consuming site visits.
The company QikDraw Systems who had been (and still
is) a prominent supporter of education then developed a system to run
the ‘construction record’ directly from a CD without reliance on any
package installed on the computer. All of the extensive project records
were recorded on this CD-ROM which was now computer independent.
As a result, Arup Water decided to trial the
QikDraw CAD system for the Upper Paskeville Reservoir project. The idea
was supported by the contractor, Pacific Lining Co Australia and the
principal, SA Water Corporation. To distinguish its developmental
nature at the time the package was renamed as ‘QikLink’.
Recording all the information as the project
developed was found not to be onerous and in fact greatly helped in
keeping track of everything. Minutes, project sketches, surveys,
weather reports, drawings, photographs, company information including
web pages for all the parties involved, Gantt charts and progress
records … etc were entered into the system as they were recorded. All
this was linked so the information could be easily and quickly
retrieved. An example would be the underground pipework where it just
requires an ‘Inquire’ onto any point to determine its exact location or
a ‘click’ to see a photograph and details at a particular point and
stage of construction.
The Upper Paskeville Reservoir project received the
AWA SA Branch Award and the IEAust Engineering Excellence Commendation.
Thus, the whole project that included much innovation, not the least
being the innovative method of documenting the project, was highly
successful and a credit to all involved.
This method of documentation has now been
implemented for a number of other projects and is clearly becoming a
leading technique for the future. Adelaide High School provides an
example where, for a student project, this technique is being used to
document the school. Clearly it has opportunities for any field where a
clear and quickly accessible record is required. As demonstrated by
projects documented by university students this can be in any field as
wide as the law, sporting clubs, fun documentations, and hobbies – the
list is endless.
Building on the documentation facility it was
realised the package provided a highly flexible presentation medium.
Lectures have now been developed and presented at both the University of
South Australia and the University of Adelaide with significant
success. These lectures become ‘alive’ as the lecturer can manipulate
the presentation, move around the screen, readily zoom into points of
interest, write on or over what is on the screen, move back and forward
between screen pages in order to explain issues and so on.
Now when the question “Where is it?” is asked, we
now have an explicit and detailed record permanently stored in a very
compact manner. With the ‘driver’ program contained with the
documentation (or that lecture), the question “Where is that program
from 20 years ago?” have a ready-made answer.