How Excitech Docs can ensure procedures are followed

When I was in my teens, I used to shoot clay pigeons and to earn pocket money I operated a trap at the shooting ground. If you are unfamiliar with clay pigeon shooting some explanation is required.

How Excitech Docs can ensure procedures are followed

Clay pigeons are mini frisbees made of clay. They are around 11cm in diameter and are typically black or painted a day-glow orange. They are flung into the air by a machine known as a ‘trap’. Modern traps are fully automated but when I was a boy, they were predominantly manual.

The simplest traps were pedal operated, and these were by far my favourite ones as you were completely in control.

You were typically hidden behind a sheet of corrugated iron and had to listen out for the shooters shouting ‘pull’ or ‘mark’, one of which was your signal to release the clay. You would have previously inserted a clay onto the arm and under a spring clip that kept it in place, so all you had to do was keep your hands out of the way and push the pedal. There were risks but nothing like those when operating the semi-automatic machines. For example, if you had long legs like me, the arm came very close to your kneecap and you would not want to get anything close to that spring.

The greatest risk was the arm itself as it would swing round with frightening speed and force, but at least you were in control in a pedal operated trap.

On the day, a fellow trapper lost his front teeth and broke his jaw, he was operating a semi-automatic machine. These machines relied on the trap operator to provide the grunt work to both cock the mechanism and load the clays which were released remotely by someone standing close to the shooters who would press a button to release the clays. Whilst this meant the shooters didn’t have to shout loudly to release the clays, it also meant that the trap operator had no idea when the machine might buck into life, especially as the button operators would press it repeatedly if they didn’t get an immediate result.

We were taught to be very careful with these machines and in particular to ensure that you never leant across it. So, there was a strict rule that you stacked your clays within reaching distance but never in front of you as that would require you to bring your body within range of the swinging arm.

My fellow trapper didn’t follow procedures and was leaning to grab some clays when the trap was released. I don’t recall his name and he never returned to the club, so I don’t know what happened to him after that, but I do remember the whole incident vividly as he was only a few yards from me.

Some procedures protect you, whilst other simply ensure that a job is done well and quality is maintained, but if staff don’t know the procedures, forget them or bypass them the implications can be catastrophic.

The best procedures are those that can’t be bypassed, for example you cannot turn on your microwave oven without first closing the door; you don’t have to think about this or risk getting it wrong because it is built into the system. This built-in approach is far better as the user does not need to know the procedure.

All businesses have procedures for: order processing, invoice checking and payment, recruitment, design checking and approval, proposal submission, etc. With M-Files you can define your processes pictorially, set the rules and conditions and then set them in place to ensure that nobody can get it wrong and everything runs like clockwork…always.

“People can’t be expected to know the correct procedure for every task, so Excitech DOCS has been a joy for us at H. E. Simm because they don’t need to know. Not only does the system present the right options to them at each stage, but they can’t continue without taking the required steps, plus it automates much of what they previously had to do manually.

Drawings are an obvious area but the ability to define processes and automate the manual drudgery can be applied to many other parts of a business, such as project initiation, tendering, invoice handling, recruitment, training management, etc. We are just scratching the surface of what the product can do for us but have already seen a reduction in errors and significant savings in time.”

Mark Donkin, BIM Manager, H E Simm Group

M-Files is the document management engine upon which Excitech DOC is built. You can use it to not only remove the manual labour and mistakes from your AEC design processes but also your internal processes.

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