Navy Simplifies Storage Techniques

Eastman Kodak has helped the Navy save millions of dollars with a combination of document imaging and CD-ROM technologies

P> When Mike Cocchiola, director of the Defense Printing Service, addressed a federal imaging symposium recently, he reiterated the Pentagon's rationale for going from a paper-based document management system to the plastic-centered CD-ROM. It costs the Navy, Cocchiola said, $29 to produce each ship manual. A foot and a half of hull space must be dedicated to serve as a manual library aboard each vessel.

But manuals stored on CD-ROM are much more cost-effective. Under the Pentagon's Automated Document Management and Publishing System, each disk costs only $9 to make. Each CD-ROM contains up to 138 manuals. That's a savings of $4,002. "Not only is there a significant return on investment with ADMAPS in manual authoring and production, but the storage of these manuals no longer requires a vast amount of space, as compared to the storage of CD-ROMs," said Cocchiola.

In the past, two seamen were assigned full time aboard the ship to handle administration of the document system. "This is no longer necessary under the ADMAPS solution," said Cocchiola.

CD-ROM technology has, therefore, proven its value to the Pentagon, and answered the question as to whether paper or plastic is a better medium for document storage and delivery. The ADMAPS contract was awarded to the Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y., in October 1991, as part of the Pentagon's Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support, or CALS, initiative. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract expires this fall, and the Defense Department is expected to put the project out for bid again for up to $1 billion.

What can other federal agencies and contractors learn about the virtues of CD-ROM as a document storage technology from the Kodak model? Plenty.

Tom Brennan, Kodak's ADMAPS program manager, recalled the Defense Printing Service was formed to consolidate the printing operations of the Navy, Air Force and Army. "The ultimate goal here is cost-efficiency," said Brennan. "The idea is to get away from [printing manuals in bulk and storing them] somewhere. The new search capabilities optimize the whole process."

The contract covered electronic publishing components, both software and hardware, from input and conversion of documents to output. Technologies sold under the contract have included Adobe's Acrobat, Sun Microsystems SparcStations, Kodak and Fujitsu scanners, WordPerfect software and products from Interleaf. Kodak installed the products, provided training and converted to electronic document handling.

"The technology is needed whether it is text or engineering drawings," said Brennan. He explained how CD-ROM services have grown in two areas: information archiving and dissemination. Hard-copy manuals may be scanned and output on demand. Others may be scanned, modified and disseminated on CD-ROM.

Adobe software had a strong appeal to military users. "It is kind of a neat approach," he said.

Documents are converted to PDF, or portable document format, and put on the CD-ROM, which may also contain a no-cost viewing tool that Adobe provides. This way, the end customer has all the information and tools needed to view what's on the CD.

PDF documents enable the Pentagon to create hyperlinks. A table of contents, for instance, can be linked to each specific chapter. Notes or annotations can also be included. Users may search documents and pinpoint marked spots.

Brennan said the open format of CD-ROMs is appealing to the Navy because "it is so flexible. The standards are such that you can exchange print-ready files or exchange a variety of data types. In some cases, some sites are using the CDs to store engineering drawings and retrieve them at a later time. What's more, due to standards, a CD can be created on a Sun Workstation, but read on a PC. The openness lends it to today's technologies."

ADMAPS was created by the Pentagon to optimize pre-existing data without beginning the documentation process from scratch. The system handles multiple input formats, integrates the data within those formats and furnishes output in an array of media, from paper to magnetic, as well as optical, such as CD-ROM. The project requires digital data capture, digital publishing, on-line manipulation, storage and distribution, in addition to raw technology. The contract employs commercial, off-the-shelf printing, imaging and document management products.

Standard-generalized markup language, or SGML, is common to all digital documents in the program. This enables all documents, from letters and maps to technical schematics, to be input easily and output from Kodak and Fujitsu scanners. The system is also equipped to read and write to CD-ROM, which enables users to create new documents on the fly.

These virtual documents -- combining text, graphics, maps and schematics -- can be produced in various formats. Advanced data distribution, meanwhile, allows users to transfer data to any destination. It need not be printed, Brennan said.

The CD-ROM system integrated by Kodak is based on a client/server architecture, where Windows-based PCs, outfitted with intuitive graphical user interfaces, access Sun SparcStation servers. Software from Audre enables drawings in raster and vector formats, including maps, technical publications and electronic schematics, to be converted to CALS-compliant formats, such as SGML.

The Pentagon recognizes the cost benefits these technologies provide. But CD-ROM storage technology offers other advantages. First, ADMAPS CD-ROMs shorten the time for document production and improve document quality. Access to data resources is improved. Previously, electronic documents were not compatible with formats. With ADMAPS, however, the Army, Navy and Air Force can access what often has been described as the world's largest data repositories of Pentagon documentation.

The quality of documentation produced with CD-ROMs surpasses conventional document creation. What's more, the Pentagon has found that CD-ROMs boost employee productivity because they remove the need for personnel to replicate data that exists in other formats. CD-ROM also prevents the circulation of outdated documentation by removing the need for large print runs. Legacy data formats can also be handled through ADMAPS. "There's a migration mechanism for converting those legacy formats into CALS-compliant data packages," said Brennan.

The system will also remain relevant. Based on scalable architecture, it can grow as the Pentagon's needs evolve. Many agencies in the federal government still store data on magnetic tape. ADMAPS can interact with those formats and help agencies transition to CD-ROM.

Other agencies have already emulated the ADMAPS approach. The Social Security Administration and NASA employ CD-ROM technologies to solve their data management problems. The U.S. and federal tax codes are also on CD-ROM.

Networking access to data on disks -- the kind Kodak offers through ADMAPS -- has been pushed by other companies with federal clients, though none of the contracts appear to be as wide-ranging as ADMAPS.

SMS Data Products Group, a McLean, Va., systems integrator, provides federal clients with its NETower, a shared network resource that gives multiple users CD-ROM access.

"When information is power, the ability to manage and access information is control," said Brennan of Kodak. "Cognizant of this, the Pentagon is optimizing pre-existing resources, as well as using diverse data formats, rather than [requiring] rigid limitations. Other agencies can learn from the experience."

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above.

WT Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.