Installation preparation

System installation is an activity for which the CAD/CAM/CAE Manager is responsible. Many people, such as users, support staff, and vendor staff, should be involved in the planning and installation process. Users should be involved to make sure that the final installation meets their requirements. The vendor or reseller will be consulted to take advantage of experience gained with other installations and for information on system requirements for power, space, and so on. A certain amount of this activity needs to be carried out before the contract is signed, in particular for those tasks related to defining the costs of installation. The rest of the activity will be carried out after the contract is signed, when everyone is sure that the installation will go ahead.

Major tasks in this activity include selection of a suitable site and the detailed design of its layout. These will be very company-specific, depending on geographic layout, user location, system limitations, and other organizational factors. Apart from the layout of the basic system components (such as the computer, workstations, storage devices, and input/output devices), the layout of furniture and storage space for supplies and information must also be considered. The system components will be stored under different conditions depending on their environmental and security requirements. Material that is used for long-term archiving of information should be stored in danger-proof storage in a controlled environment.

Some of the system equipment (such as the computer and storage devices) only needs to be accessed by the CAD/CAM/CAE support team. It should be installed in a controlled-access and controlled-environment room, which may already exist or may have to be specially built or adapted. Temperature and humidity should be continuously monitored and controlled in this room. A false floor will provide a convenient place for cabling and allow easy access to it. An air-filtration unit may be required. Special power sources or electrical equipment may be needed to protect equipment from sudden power supply changes.

In addition to the equipment, the room should also include basic furniture that may be required for system operation, maintenance, and storage of a limited number of disks, tapes, and manuals. Some free space should be allowed for so that equipment can be easily dismantled for maintenance. More free space may be needed so that future system expansion will not require demolition of the facility.

Workstations should be in a quiet area well away from noisy computer equipment, such as printers and cooling fans. At initial installation time, though, it may be difficult to balance the need to separate the different types of equipment with the desire to centralize resources. There are good reasons for centralizing resources initially, even though in the long run they will most probably be distributed at user desktops. Grouping resources is often cheaper, as it reduces duplication requirements and overhead costs, eases communication problems, and aids training, support, and management. Its major disadvantages - extra travel and separating users from their normal working environment - should not cause too many problems when the system is initially installed.

As well as balancing the needs of centralization and distribution of resources, it will also be necessary to balance the need for physical security of information with that for free access to information. In areas where designs and drawings of new products are produced additional security may be needed. Similarly, access to information storage media such as tapes and disks may need to be restricted.

Even if the workstations are not centralized, they should at least be grouped together in clusters in the users' local environment. This will remove the travel problem and allow users to maintain effective local communication while minimizing system maintenance and management requirements.

The workstation environment needs to be one in which users can work effectively and productively. They will not be able to do this if noise, heat, uncomfortable furniture, inappropriate working surfaces, lack of storage space, static, unsuitable lighting, and other distractions irritate them. The environment needs to be temperature- and humidity-controlled, and shielded from the noise of equipment and extraneous conversations. Screens need to be placed so that users do not suffer from strong reflections. It may be necessary to provide blinds for windows, as well as user-controllable lighting.

Users should be able to adjust their screens and chairs to the most comfortable positions. A working surface for drawings and models and some storage space for the individual user should be associated with each workstation. Common storage space will be needed for manuals, documentation, drawings, models, and so on; which leads back to the topic of data security, which will have to be examined in detail. It may be necessary to provide complete privacy at some individual workstations, or for particular clusters. Access to workstations will probably require knowledge of a personal or project-dependent password. Care will have to be taken in storing and archiving data. Access to the workstation area may be restricted to badge holders.

Home | Top of page | Front of MANAGING CAD/CAM/CAE section

Page last modified on February 11, 2000
Copyright 1999, 2000 by John Stark