What is a Drawing Management System?


In my role at Honeycomb Soft, I’ve consulted for countless businesses on the implementation of Drawing Management and Engineering Content Management Systems (ECMS). A frequent inquiry is: “What precisely is a Drawing Management System, and why is it necessary?”

Computers have long been equipped with tools to manage files – think Windows Explorer or Finder on macOS. The cloud era has also ushered in alternatives like Sharepoint and Dropbox. Yet, what distinguishes engineering content, warranting specialized AutoCAD Drawing Management Software?

Three primary reasons differentiate engineering files:

  • Complexity of CAD and BIM File Formats:

Engineering files, whether they’re 2D/3D models, lidar images, or TIFF scans, are inherently more intricate than regular documents. For instance, DWG files can encompass meta-data attributes and reference external files. Conventional file managers can’t fully accommodate these advanced features, and they usually lack the means to display these files without specific software.

  • Document Control:

Accurate and approved engineering alterations are pivotal. Standard file-sharing environments, such as Windows, falter when it comes to controlling high-volume document modifications. While systems like Sharepoint offer workflow capabilities, they often demand considerable resources to align with specific engineering processes.

  • Collaboration and Transmittals:

Standard management systems usually lack the framework for stakeholders to review, modify, and quality check drawings and related documents. Consequently, these processes often occur outside the system, resorting to email, paper, or being mentally tracked.

Read this case study to understand how Drawing Management Systems tackle these engineering-focused issues, offering advanced functionalities compared to standard file or document management systems.

Prominent Features of Drawing Management Systems:

  • Central Repository: Offers a unified access point for all engineering documents for both internal and external stakeholders.
  • Security: Implements a detailed permission framework, ensuring user-specific access to required documents.
  • Document Retrieval: Simplifies the document search process.
  • Application Integrations: These systems commonly support integrations with specialized CAD formats, e.g., DWG, DGN, or RVT, facilitating various tasks like title block management and PDF generation.
  • Controlled Workflow: Documents undergo a systematic approval flow, retaining a comprehensive revision and audit history. This ensures traceability and transparency.
  • Secure Sharing: Facilitates controlled document sharing with stakeholders.
  • Native File Viewing: Modern systems generally allow document previewing and marking without needing proprietary software, making content more universally accessible.
  • Document Archive: Post the document’s lifecycle, there’s often a need to archive related drawings, ensuring they are available only to permitted users.
  • Tag Management: Beyond mere file storage, these systems manage meta-data or tags, enhancing document retrievability.

Given the increasing shift towards remote work, now is the ideal time to consider a modern Drawing Management System for managing your asset and engineering content.



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