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Soft copy

Soft copy: Do you fancy reducing the paper usage of your site office compound by at least 50%; with an associated 30% increase in staff productivity by not having to wander down the corridor to deliver messages or pass over contract documents? Then the occupants of stand 855 may be able to help you.

The Autolink Consortium - designers and builders of Scotland's largest design, build, finance and operate road scheme involving 100km of the M6 - are so chuffed with their self-designed workflow system created to achieve just such savings, that they are willing to share its secrets. As a major chunk of the stand holder, the M6 Partnership, Autolink is a grouping of contractors Amey, Sir Robert McAlpine, Taylor Woodrow and Barr.

A small team of its senior engineers decided that the only way to sensibly manage the £100M project, involving 28km of new build and maintenance of over 90km of existing motorway, was to create an information retrieval and document control software system that could electronically absorb everything from site memos and working drawings to major contract documents (NCE 28 February).

The £200,000 computer network offers its users a suite of over 30 databases accessed not only in the project's seven site offices but, via modem or networked links, to contractors' head offices, key subcontractors and even client the Scottish Office. The system allows over 200 key personnel real time access to virtually every document or drawing.

Total time savings over the 28 month contract are measured in weeks, use of the site's photocopier has plummeted and creation of hard copy is frowned on.

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