Organizing drawing files for engineering, IT departments

Having correct and accurate drawing sets are a common challenge for plant engineering and information technology (IT) departments, but there are ways to make it easier.

By Gary Walker June 27, 2019

Documentation organization is the kryptonite of many manufacturing plants. Having up-to-date, accurate, and organized drawing sets are a common source of frustration in plant engineering and information technology (IT) departments. When each drawing is a separate file, it’s common for engineers to find some sheets and not the others.

A good best practice is to keep all electrical drawings in one file and name the file with the system or machine number or something everyone involved will recognize.

Engineers that follow this recommendation will only have one file to track instead of 30 or more. This way, when engineers find the file they need, they’ll know they have all the sheets associated with the machine. Even if engineers are only modifying one item on one page of the drawing set, grouping the drawings this way is still easier to track and maintain. It is also easier for printing. The single page engineers have to open has each drawing they want to print or run in a batch plot utility. With everything in one drawing file, engineers can publish the whole set of drawings or just an individual drawing page from the file.

For the seasoned computer-aided-design (CAD) user, keep the drawings on the Model tab and make view ports to individual drawing sheets. Following this recommendation allows the user to modify and make changes more quickly by copying or moving information from one sheet to another without flipping from drawing to drawing. In some cases, they have to do a wright block and then insert it into another drawing.

If users need to make a large change like adding a prefix to your wire numbers, when all the drawings are in one file, you can do a search and replace and be done in a few minutes. If they were to use the traditional method of individual drawing files, each drawing would need to be opened, changed, then closed — and then they’d need to do the same with the next drawing. Changing things one at a time adds unnecessary extra time and effort to the task.

This article originally appeared on Avanceon’s website. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

Original content can be found at

Author Bio: Gary Walker, Avanceon