Drawing Management on Construction Projects (Part 3)

This is part 3 of a 7-part series of articles on Drawing Management on Construction Projects. (Back to Part 2 – Drawing Identification, to the Table of Contents)

Classification Systems

A Classification System is a generalised method of organising and finding construction documents, including drawings. Typically it is based on the drawing code components. The classification is often extended by adding additional classification fields, which are not part of the drawing code, but are useful for filing and finding documents. Examples of additional classification fields include elevation, supplier company, contract, etc.

Classification systems are superior to text and tag based searching and filing systems. Construction industry practitioners find them easy to learn because they are based on drawing codes, which they are already familiar with. A further advantage is the ability to specify classification values by ‘picking an item from a list’ or ‘filling in a number’, which eliminates mis-filing due to spelling mistakes or inappropriate terminology (a common problem on project with team members from multiple countries).

The classification fields are implemented by adding additional columns to the master drawing list and filling them in appropriately for each drawing.

Example classification fields:

  • Date of issue
  • Organisation supplying or creating the document
  • Organisation receiving the document
  • Contract number
  • WBS (Work Breakdown Structure), could contain engineering package
  • Project phase
  • Document type, e.g. drawing, report, calculation, etc.
  • Procurement package
  • Engineering discipline, e.g. civil, mechanical, electrical, etc.
  • Work type, e.g. excavation, concrete, metalwork
  • Location, picked from a list
  • Elevation, could be meters over sea level and/or level or floor number
  • Alignment and ‘from/to’ chainage, e.g. for tunnels and roads
  • Sub-system
  • Unit number, e.g. for hydromachinery
  • Supplier’s document code, e.g. alternate document code

Some classification fields should be required. Meaning that all drawings in the master drawing list must have a value for the classification field. Other classification fields are optional and only have values if necessary. For example alignment and chainage classification values are only filled in for drawings relating to tunnels and roads.

A more sophisticated classification system would allow assignment of multiple values for certain classification fields. For example interface drawings might be assigned multiple engineering disciplines or contract numbers.

More generally, classification systems should be defined and applied to all project documents, taking into account that different types of document can have different coding systems and different classification fields. See the references at the end of Part 7 for a paper that explains more about classification systems.

Continue to Part 4 – Workflow Information