Building fast, flawless jets requires innovative manufacturing systems. So when Dassault Aviation (St. Cloud, France) needed to improve how it distributed work instructions, it chose Fortis document management software from Westbrook Technologies (Branford, CT).

Dassault's engineering division uses Fortis to provide critical information and visual references to clients at their aircraft service centers. The software retrieves blueprints, collecting specific sections that identify a component or illustrate assembly. "When clients call us with questions that involve blueprints, we quickly locate them and easily provide a great deal of precise information, including installation instructions and which materials to use," says Richard Hahn, senior technical help desk representative at Dassault. Hahn notes that Dassault's engineering division houses over 185,000 blueprints.

With retrieval time greatly reduced, customer service has been enhanced. Hahn says if the file for a particular drawing isn't too large, it can usually be pulled up on the screen while the customer is on the phone. This quick visual allows the staff to immediately address customer needs instead of calling them back later.

"Because this division is a frontline troubleshooting and technical hot line for customers, time is of the essence," explains Hahn. "Because of strict completion deadlines for aircraft assembly, customers depend on us to answer questions as soon as possible. They don't have time to waste waiting for answers, and we certainly don't want to delay production."

Thanks to Fortis, the company is 99 percent on target with meeting the division's goal of getting back to clients within 24 hours. "In the past, we were frequently unsure if we even had a certain blueprint, particularly if it was one of the older ones," says Hahn. "When that happened, we had to contact our headquarters in France and wait for them to locate the original and forward a copy to us.

"This could take up to a week, leading to serious delays for our clients. Now, we are consistently hitting the mark. We can either send blueprint copies to the customer as an e-mail attachment or as a Fortis file if they have this same software."

Prior to Fortis, the staff had to pull the drawing, place it on a copier and, with several attempts, accurately copy the desired section for faxing. "Fortis allows us to enter the tiniest fraction of the necessary information and retrieve a group of documents with similar file numbers. From there, we can narrow our search. This has decreased our search time tenfold," says Hahn.

Previously, it took up to a half day to manually page through these alphanumeric files. With Fortis, querying takes less than 1 hour.

Hahn points out that having the ability to scan these large blueprints has been a significant improvement in preserving them.

Dassault's warehousing division also uses Fortis to expeditiously manage material safety data sheets, customer repair orders, packing lists and purchase orders. With over 45,000 documents stored in its Fortis system, warehousing has stepped up customer service with an 80 percent increase in document retrieval. Staff has also increased the daily number of transactions they complete by more than 10 percent.

For more information on document management software, call 800-WHY-FILE or visit