Document Control. Who needs it
Many people have never worked in an environment where it was necessary to have a system for document control. Many older people and the millennials have never encountered document control or, if they did, found no reason for requiring it. Many people have operated document control when there was only “Hard Copy” and indeed the term “Hard Copy” (paper) only came about because, all of a sudden, we had a “Soft Copy” (Digital). Accordingly, for example, when speaking over the phone the caller may wish to have an express version in “Soft Copy” and then followed up with the Master “Hard Copy” version. Many people have never been involved with “Hard Copy “production having grown up and worked with electronic devices only.
Document Control. On the walls of caves to paper and now electronic
Many hundred thousand years ago early man started to draw out his view of the World and his ideas which can been seen in the markings of cave dwellers written in the blood of slaughtered animals. Their techniques slowly but surely developed to the writings on stone and then parchment and then on paper. Is it not surprising to realise that for it was only in the late 20th century that man devised a technique to develop words and drawing through the development of electronic tools. Then to show these words and drawing on electronic screens and to be able to print to “Hard Copy ” what was shown in “Soft Copy” on electronic screens. Prior to the advent of computers all the techniques for producing quality information, on plain paper or sepia paper, were in the hands of people skilled in the art of producing high quality information or interpreting base case information for other people to make comment on and then to incorporate the agreed changes into the original . A typical case were this took place would be in an engineering design house. The work of the design house is to interpret words and sketches into drawings from which, for example, the Fawley Refinery was constructed, together with Atomic Power Stations , ships and planes. What is this all to do with Documentation you may ask?
Document Control. A demonstration of why it is needed
Let us consider a scene in which their are a number of men and women, at a meeting, arguing about a specific detail shown on their copy of a, supposedly set of identical, drawing. This detail is inconsistently shown on each drawing held by the individual parties. The question is whose drawing is correct.?. Inspection of each drawing gives no clues as to a date, a drawing number, a title, a particular revision ( change), a person’s name who drew the drawing or the person who authorised the drawing to be distributed. In fact, their drawings are all confusing and therefore progress cannot be made at the meeting. Just as the whole meeting is getting very heated another person enters the room where the meeting is taking place. He has come direct from the floor of the Piping Department with the master drawing. He is accompanied by the lead piping engineer who is charged with the security of the master drawing which is held under lock and key. Changes to the MASTER drawing are made only through a document control procedure which is stringently policed. The new man places a large drawing on the conference room table. This drawing is stamped “MASTER”. Significantly, there is a box shown on the drawing which shows a drawing title, a drawing number, a revision,and a wet signature of an authorised engineer. Let us assume the drawing MASTER is shown as Revision 3. Therefore, there has been a Revision O ( original) Revision 1 and Revision 2 and these three revision are filed away with MASTER crossed through and the word “SUPERSEDED” shown on the drawing. The people at the meeting are termed Discipline Engineer (Process, Piping, Instrument, Civil, Structural) and they have progressed the order of materials and equipment based on the drawing in their possession. They will all have to rework to ensure they have the design shown on the MASTER.
Document Control. In industry
There could be thousands of documents and drawings that make up a design and all these items are controlled in a department named as “Document Control”. which has a group of persons named as “document controllers”. Any changes to documents or drawings must have a change control document signed by the authorising engineer and distributed to all the Discipline Engineers through the document controllers. Accordingly, for every change there is a paper trail that can be interrogated back along the trail to the change originator. Accordingly, the engineers are working to the same design across the engineering design house shop floor. They are all “singing” (designing) to the same script. This was the case prior to the introduction of electronic tools and the availability of photo copiers. This new way of designing with electronic tools allowed people of the project to circumvent Document Control to varying degrees as it is to easy to run a copy of a drawing from the electronic file and circulate the information across the project. It is believed that, due to the introduction of electronic tools and the availability of photo copiers, the quality of our engineering houses became compromised leading to the failure of some major companies.