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Arbortext Helps US Airways' Mechanics Find Information Faster

By Linda Rosencrance
September 23, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Arbortext Inc.
Category: Enterprise systems
URL: www.arbortext.com
Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
Founded: 1982
Technology: Epic, XML software for publishing content dynamically
Key customers: American Express Co., Ford Motor Co., The Boeing Co.
How it Works: Based on XML and related standards, Arbortext's Epic Editor is used to create information in a media-independent format that can be stored on a file system or in a content management system. Epic creates a single XML-based source of information and automates the publishing to all types of media, including the Web, print, CD-ROM and wireless devices. The software constrains the author so the structure and content of the information conform to the XML data model the system designer specifies. Because of these constraints, the information is consistent across all platforms. Out of the box, Epic Editor works with file systems and Documentum Inc.'s Documentum 4i. An optional adapter integrates Epic Editor with Oracle Corp.'s 8iFS repository. Also available are integrations with repositories from Empolis GmbH and Xyvision Enterprise Solutions Inc. Epic Editor is compatible with Windows 95, 98, 2000 and NT 4.0, and Solaris 7 and 8.
Tip: "The ultimate success of your implementation depends on your data model, so that's the one area where you must not skimp," says P.G. Bartlett, a spokesman for Arbortext. "Whatever investment you make in outside experience will be returned many times in lower implementation costs and greater rewards."
Flight delays can be extremely infuriating, for business travelers in particular.
Many of these delays can be traced to aircraft maintenance - the time-consuming task of ensuring that each plane is inspected and repaired before every flight. And it's crucial for mechanics to be able to quickly locate the information they need to make repairs, because the faster they can do their jobs, the faster the planes get back in the air.
US Airways Group Inc., for example, must create, publish and maintain more than 13 different publications that support the maintenance of its entire fleet of 300 aircraft, which handle more than 1,400 flights every day.
Finding the right information used to take US Airways' mechanics as long as 15 minutes using a combination of microfilm and paper documents, says Stanley Davis, manager of electronic publications at the Arlington, Va.-based airline.
To shorten those delays, the airline turned to publishing software from Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Arbortext Inc. to overhaul its documentation production process and convert its manuals from print to an electronic format, says Davis.
Using Epic Editor, Arbortext's XML-based authoring and editing software, US Airways created a central data store of content components that can easily be searched, managed, tracked andimproved, Davis explains. Changes that occur in one manual are now easily reflected in other manuals.
"The new documentation process allows users to share information across several different organizations and computer platforms in the most efficient manner," Davis says. "It now takes a mechanic about two or three minutes to find the information he needs."
What's in store
"It's increasingly important for organizations to cut the cost and time of creating, reusing and sharing information while delivering more dynamic content on more types of media," says Michael Maziarka, an analyst at CAP Ventures Inc. in Norwell, Mass. "Arbortext's focus on simplifying the development and usage of such applications represents the next logical step in the evolution of technology in this category."

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