User Story

British Telecommunications (BT) : GTX

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is one of the UK's largest companies, with an annual revenue in excess of £18.7 Billion ($27.5 Billion) in 2000. However, in recent years it has been subject to significantly increased competition. This is as a direct result of British Government policies that have encouraged alternative providers to challenge BT's previous monopoly position in the UK.

In order to expand in this fiercely competitive market, BT has had to look at all aspects of its business in order to see where economies might be achieved and efficiencies made. Considerable attention has been given to the way in which BT looks after its vast property portfolio, including the drawings and technical records that describe these buildings.

Of the 8500 buildings that BT owns, approximately 5000 are telephone exchanges, with the rest being comprised of offices, workshops and laboratories.

One of the biggest challenges faced at the outset of the project was the wide variety of CAD systems and products being used by BT, throughout the UK and Northern Ireland. Drawing files had been created by a wide variety of systems, including different versions of AutoCAD, CADAM, Intergraph and Microstation. This made the transfer and re-use of drawing data very inefficient and difficult.

Over the past 2 years, the Building Services Division of BT has implemented a comprehensive drawing management archive and updating system that has solved many of these problems.

With approximately 85,000 drawing files already online, the system offers users at 50 different locations throughout the UK a 5-second access time to the drawing they require.

This outstanding performance and retrieval time was the result of a detailed specification co-ordinated by Paul Bagnall, BT's Building Construction and Maintenance CAD Systems Manager and the Integration Development and Consultancy (IDC) Division of Excitech Computers Ltd, one of the UK's leading and largest CAD Solution providers.

The system is based around a central file server located at BT Tinsley Park in Sheffield, running an Altris/Wintrack Drawing Management System. Communication to the users' PC's at the 50 locations throughout the UK is over BT's MPRN (multi protocol routed network). An OCÉ Inkjet plotter is provided at each location and a number of OCÉ large format combined scanners and laser plotters are available at a site in BT Coventry, where most of the scanning continues to be undertaken.

All drawing files can be viewed, red-lined, edited and plotted at any of the locations, provided the user has the correct access permission.

The BT system includes 30 GTXRaster CAD and 30 GTXRaster CAD PLUS licences, all running inside AutoCAD and all controlled via a floating network licence manager operating on their central file server.

The GTXRaster CAD units are used for raster and hybrid (raster and vector) editing work, whereas the GTXRaster CAD PLUS units are available for those users who require to convert their scanned drawing files from the scanned (raster) format into the AutoCAD DWG format.

Paul Bagnall commented that "Apart from giving us enormous flexibility in how we work with our scanned drawing files, the GTX products have been essential to the success of the system in a number of ways. The technology behind the 5 second retrieval time relies on the ability of the GTX products to generate a raster (TIF) file, from which a 5 Kbytes `thumbnail` sketch file is transferred over the network".

This raster file, which is generated immediately any new AutoCAD drawing file is generated or updated, is the file that is used to view, red-line and print the final drawing. Only when the user wishes to edit or change the file does the system actually transfer the AutoCAD drawing file over the network. Using the raster files in this way minimises the network traffic and has been central to the success and speed of the BT system.

The GTXRaster CAD and PLUS products have been used on a number of projects and have, for instance, helped BT achieve their ISO14001 (Environmental Management Systems) compliance. Part of this International Standard requires the accurate recording of environmental wastage and discharge routes to be made on appropriate site plans. This task was accomplished by BT using GTXRaster CAD PLUS to add the necessary drainage gullies and run-outs to the scanned site plans.

BT's Paul Bagnall went on to add, "We are very pleased with the system supplied by Excitech in general and the GTX software in particular. The system has met all the important criteria that we specified, particularly the speed of retrieval, and the GTX software has been central in helping us to achieve this.

We are continuing to load data onto the system including scanned drawings at the rate of 2000 to 3000 scans per week.

Future plans may include making all this drawing information available via the web to BT employees who need to access them, perhaps remotely while out in the field.

So, BT has responded to the competitive challenges in a vigorous way and is using the GTX products to help it stay ahead and be even more efficient in the future.

If you would like further information on any the companies involved in this Case Study visit: , , .

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Page last modified on May 17, 2002
Copyright 2002 by John Stark