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Electronic Survey Software

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I'm looking for insight/experience/opinions on the electronic survey documentation programs that are out there. I'm kinda the "Map Guy" here at Columbia Generating station. We use Microsoft Visio for generating maps and surveys and a Curator database for data storage and retrieval. It's clunky, but it works. My management has hinted that they may be willing to spring for new software, and it's probably going to be up to me to suggest which one. I've been off the road for a few years and I don't have any experience with what the options are. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks...

Visual Survey Data System, (VSDS), seems to be at the top of my list.  The manufacturer seems to be in tune with the various types of documentation necessary for the industry.  Anything from a one liner to a full blown multi-page, multi-map document.  I've used about five similar systems and this one seems to stand out.   

Here's are some of the Pros:

You can have multiple technicians working on one survey, each with an electronic signature.
Your MAP data base can be your existing facility maps and/or actual photographs.
You can archive your old survey's into the VSDS system.
You can scan any document into the system and attach it to a retrievable number.
The program has about forty search functions to retrieve data, (See Con's)!
The system is completely menu driven, drag and drop, (tribal knowledge not required).
You can allow anybody to view the surveys with read only privileges.
The system can be designed to auto-populate if you like, including instrumentation.
Built in Quality Checks for accuracy.

Here's some Con's:

The system will need some tweaking to your facility needs.
Some up front thinking will have to go into search titles criteria, (you've been warned)!
All Technicians will require a formal familiarization with the system, a couple of hours at the keyboard!

Hope this helps, RG

NOTE: This is kind of cutting edge technology so don't be surprised by the opposition! 

Believe me, I've got vast experience with a lack of up front thinking in deciding on search fields for data retrieval. I designed the data fields for the database that we use here. I learned two things right away. The first was that I underestimated the sheer volume of the stuff that an RP department generates, but the biggest was that 28 technicians will have 28 distinctly different ways of recording data. Whowudda thunk RHR-V-1A could be RHR-1A, or RHR Valve 1A, or something as hard to spot as RHR-V-1 A (note the space...). And that it could be in the North Valve Room or N. Valve Room or N. Valve Rm. or N. Valve Gallery... And, everybody knows it's in the Reactor Building or the RX Bld. or the RX Bldg. or the RB... Whew...hearding cats...

Can you tell me what power plants have programs that you particularly like and who might be a good contact? We're pretty low tech here in the northwest, so I'm mostly interested in survey documentation, an electronic routing and approval process, and data storage. I don't see us running around with PDAs and tablets anytime soon.

My apologies, I over looked that little detail "Power Plant"!  This type of program would obviously not be cost effective, or should I say, Beyond Budget!  The facility managers will obviously ask you if you already have a program and if it works?  If it does, then live with it!  Strangely enough, they'll probably spend more money evaluating the program then it's original cost!   

I haven't been to Hatch recently, but I received some feedback that they have a decent electronic survey program. 

PS:  You are not alone on the low tech venue, some facilities are still fitching their hard copies!    :-X

Hope this helps, RG!   ;D


Actually, the management here is behind this, right now. I'm hoping to gather lots of info and present something before the attention drifts. I'm going to contact VSDS this week, but I'd like to talk to anybody that has practical experience with this stuff.


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