Toyo Engineering Corporation (Toyo) was established in 1961 after the company separated from the engineering and maintenance section of Toyo Koatsu (now known as Mitsui Chemicals). Since then, Toyo has worked on thousands of plant engineering projects in more than 50 countries, and it is a globally recognized leader in its field.
Toyo rebuilt its project document management system to improve collaboration and communication between globally dispersed subsidiaries, external companies, and project teams. As a result, it anticipates it will save US$2.4 million (200 million yen) per year on printing, copying, and delivery expenses and expects to significantly reduce e-mail volume.
Toyo offers a wide range of technical services for the energy, oil refinement, chemical, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Its services include facility and equipment management, plant construction, system construction, master planning, and maintenance.
Toyo needed to improve collaboration between global subsidiaries, external companies, and staff in remote locations. It also wanted to enhance communication between project management teams, and engineering, procurement, construction, and other business process units, so each department had timely access to the latest design, engineering, and project information.
In 2010, Toyo rebuilt its project document management system, using cloud services provided by Oracle Partner NS Solutions, based on Oracle WebCenter Content.
“Electronic document management is an indispensable way to improve project information flow between our global engineering subsidiaries, construction sites, and external companies in remote locations,” said Toshio Hayashi, deputy general manager—IT management and control unit, Toyo Engineering Corporation. “Oracle WebCenter Content enabled us to establish a dynamic business information management system that can quickly deliver the latest design information to relevant execution offices and show a project’s progress, based on the status of various documents.”
The foundation of Toyo’s business operations is Global Toyo, a global network organization that covers 17 countries. Global Toyo includes subsidiaries in China, India, Korea, and Malaysia that cooperate in engineering, procurement, and construction processes for Toyo’s projects. Branch offices in Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East also work with local engineering companies to coordinate the needs of clients.
In 2009, Toyo began improving its document management system as part of a management plan to further enhance the company’s ability to execute projects globally. The plan was motivated by complications due to an increase in the scale of Toyo’s projects and the number of project participants from global subsidiaries and external companies. Toyo was winning bids for bigger projects that required a larger number of documents, such as process and instrument diagrams, engineering drawings, and calculation sheets. The projects also required more communication documents, all of which were stored as paper copies.
It is crucial to Toyo’s project management team to deliver project information quickly and accurately. As the company grew, it became harder for project management teams to manage official correspondence containing information about design and construction materials, for example. Project structures and communications among the many subsidiaries within Global Toyo also became increasingly complicated. This led to an increase in the number of e-mails sent by project staff.
“We faced increasingly complex communications and greater volumes of documents caused by more intricate project structures,” said Hayashi. “E-mail is an effective way of delivering information between individual users, but the increase in communications led to project staff receiving an unmanageable flood of mail.”
Toyo initially developed a Letter Management System (LMS) using IBM Lotus Notes to improve the company’s information flow and reduce the number of e-mails sent between staff. The LMS worked like a bulletin board system containing official project correspondence, such as engineering instructions and financial transactions. The correspondence was prepared in the LMS and shared between members of the project.
However, the LMS wasn’t available to clients and project personnel outside of Toyo, so Toyo’s staff had to resort to further e-mails. Project managers received up to 400 e-mails per day, which disrupted their project management work.
“E-mail is a person-to-person communication, whereas we needed to manage our engineering projects organization to organization,” added Michio Nagasawa, business process IT team leader, IT management and control unit, Toyo Engineering Corporation. “Our official project document management system had to be a shared model to prevent documents from being duplicated and scattered in different locations. We needed to store information in a single, well-managed repository.”
In addition, Toyo was transferring its global project management from its Japanese headquarters to its local subsidiaries. It was therefore important to share knowledge about productive techniques and ideas from Japan with global subsidiaries and affiliated companies to advance their independence.
The company also wanted to move to a new policy that required staff to regard an electronic document as equally valid as a hard copy signed by hand.
In February 2011, Toyo launched a new project document management system called SHOKA, which means ‘bookshelf’ in Japanese.
Based on Oracle WebCenter Content with a workflow function in a cloud environment, Toyo established a flexible, scalable, and highly durable document management system that allows global project personnel to use it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“The strength of SHOKA is that it can be accessed from anywhere through a secure internet connection, whether you are working in Japan or overseas,” said Shuntaro Saito, project IT group, IT management and control unit, Toyo Engineering Corporation. “This enables remote users to continue their project work exactly as if they were at head office.”
SHOKA has also increased clients’ satisfaction by providing increased data security. According to Saito, some clients expressly ask to use SHOKA to manage their documents as they appreciate the higher security of the cloud environment during a project involving a variety of staff.
Toyo’s ultimate goal is to automate all its project information and store it in SHOKA’s cloud-based document repository.
At present, SHOKA covers about 50% of all project information, including official project deliverables, some work-in-progress documents, and files transferred to and from vendors. Once the system includes the new Oracle–based LMS, it will contain 100% of Toyo’s project information.
SHOKA will also support a more flexible communication style, reduce e-mails significantly, and ensure managers can focus on making more timely decisions about engineering and construction projects.
SHOKA makes it easier for project personnel to search for documents from each department, subsidiary, and external company involved in a project. Users can now instantly access the latest design information and see the current status of construction schedules and project progress. This will improve project execution efficiency.
“Based on Oracle WebCenter Content with revision management and search functions, we have established a work culture with a positive attitude towards digital documents,” said Nagasawa. “We developed new document management procedures to standardize document folder structures, electronic file naming rules, and document authorization methods. If these procedures differ between each project, it is hard for project members to find the relevant documents, so the standard procedures help us share relevant information more efficiently.
“We will also soon see even greater achievements from sharing information from a consolidated central database,” he added.
In addition to quick and accurate document delivery, Toyo anticipates it will save at least US$2.4 million (200 million yen) per year on printing, copying, and delivery expenses.
To ensure these savings, Hayashi said he will work to reduce in-house storage capacity and e-mails during project execution.
“Oracle WebCenter middleware is highly valued,” he said. “It is the engine of our new project document management system. Our goal now is to achieve full-scale system operation, including innovating our business processes and continually investing in IT.”
Based on a recommendation from NS Solutions Corporation, Toyo opted for the highly durable, enterprise-class Oracle WebCenter Content instead of a general purpose document management package.
“We wanted to build a flexible, scalable, and durable system that is available globally, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Nagasawa. “We realized that a generic package operated on our own servers would not satisfy these requirements.”
Toyo and NS Solutions began working together on the project document management system in October 2009. The companies investigated whether to adopt a new system or continue using Toyo’s legacy, third-party document management systems.
In April 2010, Toyo and NS Solutions built the system’s foundation and developed basic functions. Between October 2010 and January 2011, they tested the new system and worked on operational stability.
The new project document management system went live globally in February 2011.
Advice from Toyo Engineering Corporation
• It’s not enough when developing a new project document management system to simply extend a file server system where files are only stored and transferred, not managed and controlled. The key to success is to establish a flexible and scalable system, with serious consideration about how various stakeholders can manage documents globally.
• A document management system is a valuable repository of information that is a source of competitiveness, so extensive efforts should be made to establish the best one.
NS Solutions is well acquainted with document management systems for the engineering industry. The Oracle Partner helped Toyo Engineering investigate and compare different ways of continuing with the company’s legacy systems and how to introduce document management packages.
NS Solutions recommended the Oracle content management and portal solution with the workflow function as a base, which Toyo could operate it with absonne ( NS Solutions’ cloud platform).