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A Global Detailer’s IT-Enabled Multi Office Workflow

Posted on January 31, 2019 - Ewen Dobbie

How Dowco developed its IT-enabled work flow to minimize error recurrence

For most North American steel detailers, increasing costs to keep service deliverables within customer’s quality expectations has the potential to put them out of business.

Today’s detailer has to deal with incomplete design drawings, impossible schedules, material that is difficult to work with, and declining fees due to the increasing presence of offshore detailing operations. Constant improvement in processes, project controls, and work quality remains the battle cry for modern day detailers. The need to grow operations and infrastructure globally to balance cost structures is undeniable. There is no ‘other’ way for steel detailers to survive in an increasingly competitive and globalized marketplace. The challenge remains: how do detailers compete at such low rates while still providing high quality services that customers demand?

Instituting multi-site offices was no easy task

There are a host of challenges associated with growing operations globally. Managing different time zones, language and communication barriers, labor and business related laws, and of course overcoming IT obstacles. As Dowco grew, its network and software demands changed.

The follow-the-sun method of working where the active model is transferred from office to office around the globe is long gone. The commercial acceptance of the cloud and supporting technologies now allows all Dowco offices located around the world, concurrent and efficient, real-time access to the live model, project management applications and all supporting documentation. Shift overlaps in global offices is not a technical challenge, it is a collaborative solution.

Developing Dowco’s Multi-Office Workflow

While Dowco’s cloud solution vastly decreased time spent sharing files, the company still had to develop and implement a workflow that enabled the company to compete against low cost offshore only “outsource” detailing providers. Dowco found a way to effectively utilize the skills and sheer manpower of staff in its own Manila and Kolkata operations, whilst leveraging the incredible experience and know-how of its North American staff with decades of steel industry experience.

Project Management, Training and Quality Control

Dowco’s strategy was to have its North and South American offices act as Quality Controllers, Checkers, and dedicated Project Managers in an effort to allow customers to communicate and collaborate with experienced “experts” in the same time zone.

For any given project, Dowco has one North American Checker and one QC for every five detailers, in addition to the dedicated Project Manager. This means that the company can ensure high quality drawings are provided to customers, whilst the company continues to manage and train its ever-improving offshore detailing teams.

Every stage of Dowco’s Production Process is focused on creating high quality drawings the first time. We understand that minimizing rework is vital to the success of every project. Re-work within an operation impacts productivity and jeopardizes schedule for customers. Dowco’s employees understand the impact low quality can have on all project stakeholders. Those responsible for quality tag and categorize errors they find, and then develop focused training sessions to eliminate error recurrence. Dowco tracks the quantity of errors by type, office, and project to analyze where they are occurring, and whether its training on that topic has been effective. This allows Dowco to constantly improve.

The road ahead for Dowco’s global detailing operation

The challenge in today’s market is understanding the relationship between ‘Price for Services’ and ‘costs of delivering those services at a quality high enough for successful fabrication and project execution’.

At Dowco, we believe constant evolution is necessary in order for us to survive the decreasing price threshold for detailing services. Dowco constantly searches for ways to improve its service and increase collaboration between project stakeholders. With detailers using modern virtual construction technologies and processes, integrated model centric workflows, and increased software interoperability, Dowco hopes the willingness to cooperate towards a common project goal becomes the next industry trend. If this is the case, we are prepared.

Dowco’s global search for Great Customers

With 49 years of experience detailing some of the world’s most iconic structures Dowco’s experience is unmatched. As a company that has been a pioneer in the application of 3D modeling and automated steel detailing, Dowco can guarantee it will bring value to any steel project.

If you are looking for a preferred detailer supplier, we are looking for you.

Dowco Group - Ewen Dobbie

President, CEO of Dowco Group of Companies