How Adept Streamlines the Composites Business at Toray

Toray Composites is a world leader in a strong growth area, the manufacture of carbon fiber composites for industrial applications. The company has used Synergis Adept for years, helping it to streamline workflow and coordinate teams on three continents.

Toray has been producing carbon fiber composite materials in the USA for more than 20 years. It has become a leading producer of advanced materials for the aerospace industry and other industries including energy and sports equipment. Boeing is a leading client; carbon fiber composite makes up 50% of a Boeing 787 by weight.

Toray Composite’s Journey to Selecting Adept

After years as a CAD and engineering manager for other companies, Phil Fitzgerald was hired by Toray as both document administrator and CAD manager. In 2006, Fitzgerald won approval to find a new document management system for engineering. After examining alternatives, Fitzgerald narrowed their focus to two products, Autodesk Vault and Synergis Adept. Fitzgerald shared his Adept journey at the Adept Experience user conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. You can watch a video of the presentation on the Synergis Software YouTube channel.

To dive deep into the product, Fitzgerald asked Synergis to arrange a site visit with an existing Adept user—and he specifically asked for no Synergis personnel to attend his site visit. The company obliged, and Fitzgerald was able to spend two days asking questions and observing how Philips Day-Brite in Tupelo, Mississippi uses Adept. After “being impressed” by how the engineering team used Adept, his host asked if he wanted to see how other departments used Adept. “I only asked to see one bit,” Fitzgerald said, but after seeing how document control, shipping & receiving, and human resources all used Adept, he was sold. “Seeing how widely it could be used in the organization was a big factor in selecting Adept.”

The Fast Track to Implementation

With strong support from senior management, Toray Composites decided to “get up and running fast,” Fitzgerald said. “Each hour of down time means we are losing profitability. Whether there is a mechanical or electrical problem in the plant, the most important thing is to quickly find the correct drawings so we can isolate the problem, establish the cause, and repair the damage. Ensuring the correct parts are ordered in the least amount of time is one of our most important objectives.” Toray chose to work with Adept on administrator training at Synergis headquarters followed by a fast-start in-house pilot program. “We were using the software in the office in two weeks,” Fitzgerald said. The actual installation of the Adept software was done in a day.

The initial goal was to get thousands of legacy drafting documents into the Adept database. Many were from Toray’s Japan headquarters and had to be manually scanned and then annotated. This process continued for two years, even as Adept was being used as the day-to-day Engineering Information Management (EIM) system.

The first two groups to use Adept were Carbonization Maintenance and Spinning Maintenance. All P&ID documents, and all other Equipment Information & Specification documents were created from within Adept or imported as necessary. The first Adept Data Card Fitzgerald created had more than 100 document types covering six plant locations. It didn’t take Fitzgerald long to create Data Card 2.0, with more refined search settings that reduced the time it took for a team member to find the specific drawing or document required. “Instead of document types, we organized the card by groups. It made document search more efficient. Streamlining the data card made people want to use it more—they didn’t need to know a drawing number to find the data,” Fitzgerald said.

Extending Adept to Other Workgroups

Over time Fitzgerald and his team extended Adept into other workgroups, starting with technical engineering, maintenance, and process engineering. These groups were more interested in looking up specifications, and Fitzgerald wrote new Data Cards specific to their needs.

The manager of Quality Assurance saw how other departments were taking advantage of Adept and wanted it in her department. Fitzgerald brought in a Synergis field engineer for a week to create custom templates for their Quality Assurance. Because Toray is a supplier to aerospace companies, “we get audited three times a year for quality documentation,” Fitzgerald says. Before Adept, an audit could take a week or more, and there were issues with revision documents being scattered through the plant or at a separate location. “It took a year to get it all together,” Fitzgerald says, “but now audits are short and complete,” sometimes lasting as short as one day.

Toray is now in the process of bringing WiFi to 100% plant coverage, so that anyone can access Adept on a tablet anywhere in the company. “This is an exciting update for us,” Fitzgerald notes.

While Fitzgerald raves about the software and the process improvements, he reserves his highest praise for the Synergis team members who have been so helpful over the years. “Adept staff has been like family to us,” Fitzgerald says. “Synergis has the best technical support I have ever been associated with.

Interested in seeing how Adept can help you find your documents faster, secure your information, automate workflows, and more for your organization? Visit our demo center to see Adept in action.


Randall S. Newton  is Managing Director of Consilia Vektor, a research and content development consultancy specializing in engineering and distributed ledger technology (DLT) industries. He has been a guest contributor to the Synergis Adept blog since 2014.

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