25+ Years of reliable document management

First Gas

"A very robust engineering document management system"


The Company

Firstgas is NZ’s largest natural gas network, connecting over 60,000 homes, businesses and essential services in the North Island, through 2,500km of high-pressure transmission pipeline and 4,800km of gas distribution networks across the North Island from Whangarei to Gisborne, Napier to Kapiti and beyond. Their mission is to safely and reliably deliver energy that’s affordable and accessible to Kiwi families and businesses and in doing so “Proudly lead the delivery of New Zealand’s energy needs in a changing world.”

Amanda Walton is Technical Support Lead for the team that manages the upkeep and maintenance of engineering documents ensuring the quality, confidence in accuracy and accessibility of the documents for FGL staff and consultants to access.  Her team also comprises the GIS specialists. 


The Challenge

Over twenty years ago, the company (then known as NGC) was cutting a CD (an actual compact disc) every 6 months to give to technicians, enabling them to view engineering documents from their own PCs.  Not only was this expensive, time-consuming and inefficient, this method meant that technicians were continually viewing out-of-date documents. Day-to-day efficiency suffered increasingly due to the large number of inconsistent plans, wasting operational time and increasing mitigation costs.

The company needed, firstly, to better support their growing drawing and document needs and, secondly, for technicians to gain access to accurate, up-to-date engineering data. 


The Solution

“A very robust engineering document management system”

Discovering the EDMS Meridian (then known as AutoManager), Firstgas was one of the first companies in New Zealand to adopt it, and have now been successfully using it for over 25 years. 

There are now over 144,959 engineering documents and drawings in the three vaults. They are desktop-accessible through additional function Client View to the over 350 viewers on their own devices, without the need for CAD software installed on their computers. “We have the Client View [Meridian Explorer], so all of our engineering documents can be accessed through the web. External consultants can view, in-house staff, engineering departments, project managers, technicians - across the board,” says Walton.

As for making changes, document managers take an “as-built” document out, put it into a project area, work on it, and, when it’s been satisfied by Quality as to the correctness, the document back is put back into the master vault where it is viewable to all. Electronic approval of documents is handled by a workflow where the manager receives an automated email notification. 

First Gas utilises the ability to link from their GIS system and Maximo into Meridian to also bring up station drawings, something that has saved operational time and decreased mitigation costs. Not only that, they modified the search functionality to make it easier. These features, combined with Client View, make for a user-friendly system. 

Walton wasn’t part of the team when Meridian was adopted but started using it on her arrival at Firstgas. She finds it “a very robust engineering document management system” and has been impressed by both its longevity and its ability to evolve. She finds Meridian has become easier and easier to use as time goes on because it has listened to customer needs over the years and adapted accordingly.


The Result

“With remote access, the contractors are less reliant on FGL supplying additional information.”

Staff and contractors are now able to identify the number and location of document relating to a project, retrieve a relevant drawing all but instantaneously and have confidence it’s the right version. Firstgas has experienced less than 5 missing files incidents in the past 19 years and does not encounter accidental duplicate engineering drawings. With a complete overview of document status and history, both access and audit are quick and easy. “Being able to go back in time with drawings is fantastic.”

Walton finds that users self-manage better now: “Once we’ve given the staff training in how to find drawings, they’re on their own and they utilise it really well”. Internal staff are no longer bothered by contractors disrupting their workday by asking for help. And, for the contractors, being able to access drawings independently makes for a more efficient workday. 

Since adopting Meridian, Firstgas has increased the accuracy of engineering information, maintained a complete audit trail and ensured the integrity of asset and engineering information. With a streamlined, simplified EDMS process preventing data inconsistencies, there has been a resulting increase in efficiency and time savings through improved search capabilities. With improved workflows, better process and clarity in audit trail, productivity is high. 

The Firstgas team know they can contact their Matrix agent any time. Old hands with Meridian, they nevertheless acknowledge the benefits of ongoing training and book on-site training every few years. They had a few hiccups in the recent transition to using Meridian for drawing approval, which is another additional functionality that they utilise. With support from Matrix, that was smoothed over and is now hassle-free. “We are very reliant on Matrix for support. I find the support we get from Matrix to be excellent,” says Walton.