ATEACase Study: Atea Builds Superior System Design and Operational Efficiencies with D-Tools System Integrator


Business Challenges:
• Streamlining system design process
• Creating and integrating line diagrams, schematic and rack layouts
• Designing time savings and efficiencies

Atea, a leading Nordic and Baltic supplier of IT infrastructure with approximately 6,100 employees, was looking for a way to better document the company’s installations, as well as streamline its system design process. The company provides system integration across 83 cities in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, delivering IT products from leading vendors and assisting customers with IT infrastructure services through its team of 3,700 consultants and supporting 7,500 technology certifications.

At InfoComm 2002, FotoPhono (acquired by Atea in 2011) discovered D-Tools and immediately signed on as one of its first international customers.  “D-Tools System Integrator (SI) was the perfect software to suit our needs,” said Christian Broendbo, AV System Designer for Atea. “We’ve been using D-Tools for 12 years, and it’s become an important part of every AV project we do.”

System design is crucial to Atea’s business process, so the company counts on the superior design elements and capabilities of System Integrator. Since the beginning, D-Tools has interfaced with the industry-standard design software Visio and AutoCAD. System Integrator allows users to create detailed designs by leveraging these industry standards. Because everything in System Integrator is data-driven, users can quickly and easily generate detailed Line, Plan, Elevation, and Schematic drawings by simply dragging and dropping products from their catalog or project file to the drawing surface to create the desired drawings. This further enabled Atea to have the best of both worlds: the WYSIWYG approach of creating line diagrams, as well as schematics and rack layouts with RealPics in Microsoft Visio. “SI’s design offerings, combined with the Architectural and MEP features available for Plan, Section and Elevation in AutoCAD makes D-Tools crucial to our business as a one-stop shop,” adds Broendbo.

Atea recently designed and installed a new conference hotel in Norway containing a conference hall, eleven meeting rooms, and a sky bar using Building Information Modeling (BIM). Atea took advantage of the ability to insert drawings and replace products features, and exported all data into Autodesk Revit to produce 3D drawings in addition to D-Tools schematics. BIM focuses on the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of design-build projects.

This was the first project Atea set out to accomplish using complete 2D design work in SI, so the company had to do parallel design with 3D modeling in Revit and export files that were later used for plan and elevation design with AutoCAD in SI. Broendbo said Atea was involved early in the planning stages of the project, which at the time focused on 3D rendering to engineer the best specifications and representations of equipment and machinery.  “There are some interesting and exciting features and benefits to the D-Tools systems when using BIM that can really help you stand out as both an expert in the field and a differentiated service provider.”

ATEA - Rom-207The company then went to Visio for the system design and found it a lot easier to get the whole picture when doing a visual design of the system, such as with line diagram within SI. When that was done, Atea turned to rack designs to make sure everything fit. “The project electrician needed to know how much space we would need in their panels, so they completed the design based on the electrical engineer’s panel drawings. After the customer approved this solution, I was easily able to complete the schematics within the SI software. That said, keep in mind 3D renderings are only a small part of the total consideration. If you want to become a BIM specialist, product related data that comes with the renderings become critical components you need to provide, and that’s exactly what D-Tools does.”

Because Atea had a similar project in 2013, the company was able to save time using “insert drawing,” pages within SI for the hotel’s conference hall. “I think I saved at least 20 hours of design time on that hall alone. The total design time for the original project was about 40 hours and I spent about 15 hours adapting and detailing this one. Rack panel drawings are extremely time consuming. All wire checklists and equipment usage reports were run by location and added to an “OneNote” file.  The technicians could access this file with their smartphones or tablets to check off the items as they were installed, adding serial numbers to the list. When that was done, I pulled the tables from OneNote into Excel, ensuring that the component ID, serial number and installed columns had the right label, saved it as a .csv file and imported it into the project for full documentation to the customer.  For the next project of this size we will probably use the scheduling component in System Integrator SIX as it provides an even higher level of detailed control.”

Complete integration and control

Atea uses drawings and reports to communicate with the customer, with other designers, project managers and technicians on any looming obstacles or physical building challenges.  “With D-Tools we can easily create line diagrams, rack layouts and schematics that generate checklists, proposals, change orders and more or less anything else you need. A change in product is automatically populated across the project and with revision management users have full control. D-Tools SI is an excellent tool for data management within a project, since as every integrator knows, documentation is all about communication. SI’s data-driven process allows for efficient communication with our customers and engineers, and we can now easily tie in all necessary data within products for our designs.”

There’s a lot to gain from standardizing and the true benefit is that it provides clear communication across all parts and parcels of a system integration process.  SI includes pertinent tools to make it easy for Atea’s salesforce to create proposals easily, with all critical details accounted for.  Along with this, the utilities within project editor allow for an extremely easy way for the company to create custom packages. “Personally, as a design freak, I love that inserting drawing pages from the Visio D-Tools ribbon will give me both all products and a visual presentation of the system with line diagrams, elevation and plan drawings. Users can even have the schematics inserted, saving hours of design time (while still getting paid for the full design).”

As a data-driven system, D-Tools has been key in reducing errors and redundancy issues through the database/catalog. “One good example for us is the hearing aid loop amplifier which we, in 95% of the cases, install in racks. Unfortunately, the rack ears must be ordered separately. If we do the design early in the process, we don’t have to do an extra order for those ears and we get paid for them instead of having to give them away. This of course demands that we have done our job properly when creating the products, so all relevant accessories are included in the specification and if not, we are prompted for this information.”

Through D-Tools, Atea has the ability to enter a preferred vendor for a product, making life easier for back office administration whose expertise is ordering and logistics, not AV products or finding the best deal. “System Integrator’s streamlined process allows us to save time and money, creating efficiencies and increased revenue. We are able to measure this by the project design time. For example, if we are on a short time frame and the salesperson has to send the order to the back office before the design is done, we usually have three-times the number of change orders compared to when the design is done before ordering.”


While Atea primarily uses D-Tools for system design, the success they have had with the software will allow them in the future to use SI’s project management and sales tools, and deploy the platform from proposals to installations. “D-Tools has proven time and time again that all critical design elements such as geometry, materials, shared coordinates and much more can be communicated to all parties with the highest accuracy, greatly reducing costly errors.”

Benefits from Implementing D-Tools:

  • Foster team collaboration and project integration
  • Reduce errors and redundancy issues
  • Project standardization
  • Import critical BIM and other components for streamlined project management
  • Project efficiencies and time and cost savings in equipment ordering while reducing the number of change orders