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Productivity or Procrastination?

July 21st, 2009 1 comment

The future of CAD is MOBILE!

The future of CAD is MOBILE!

The future of CAD is MOBILE

Isn’t it amazing to think that just five years ago virtually all surveyors took pencil and pad, tape measure or possibly a laser measuring device out into the field and spent several hours measuring up sites, buildings and all related detail before returning to the office to redraw the detail into their CAD package. Or is it? How much has really changed?

History

Productivity levels and therefore profit margins are a concern to all, but in an industry where so much process is manual there only needs to be one error in measurement, or error in reading a measurement and the entire dimensions of a building will be inaccurate. The result? A return to site to re-measure and then back to the office to amend the CAD drawings. This is a huge resource cost and ultimately vastly decreases profit margins, affects customer service and increases costs for both the supplier and the client.

Anybody connected with design, construction, engineering, facilities management, manufacturing, mapping, real estate and related industries will know what we’re talking about. Local authorities, hospitals, schools, surveyors, facilities management companies – any sector involved in the management of multiple and large buildings that require compliance with Health and Safety regulations, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and those requiring Asset Registry services began looking at how to shorten the “field-to-finish” time and associated cost.

So, how far has the adoption of mobile CAD technology come, and how easy has it been to bring the construction industry into the 21st century? Has mobile CAD continued with what Blackberry started – and truly taken the technology out of the office and into the field?

“In order to tempt the surveyor away from the traditional pen/paper/laser approach, any solution offered has to be quick, efficient and truly mobile. To persuade the money men it also has to offer a swift ROI – laser scanning options were seeing an increase in adoption a few years back but were still costly, and did not create the “as-built” drawings and floor plans in the field that would significantly cut design and planning time and cost.

The answer lies in incorporating handheld devices, software, Bluetooth and wireless technology – to produce a CAD drawing in front of your eyes. The measurements taken by laser meter and sent via Bluetooth into the software installed on the handheld device, produce a pictorial representation almost instantly. Human error is completely eliminated – the surveyor can see immediately if he has taken the measurement incorrectly. The solution also needs to offer the basics for internal building design, down to such detail as furniture if required, thereby producing a finished drawing in the field that can be emailed back to the office.”

But doesn’t all this technology send the average surveyor running for the safety of his pencil and pad?

“Admittedly the biggest challenge faced will be persuading all involved to undergo a complete culture change! From our experience this has been less of an issue in the USA, Australia an the Far East but across Europe those we see as potential adopters just don’t believewhat can be achieved by implementing Mobile CAD Solutions until they actually see it in action, so uptake has been slower simply because it is harder to get through the door in the first place.

And surely the age old excuse of months of training staff on CAD related technology and the affect this has on productivity gives the procrastinating client an immediate get out clause?

“It certainly raises its head. They are most surprised when we can demonstrate that users can be up to speed with our system in 2 days, and producing plans of the same standard as using traditional methods within one week. This is a huge cost saving when we look at how quickly the drawing is produced – using
the “pointshootdrawn” principle within a week the surveyor can be measuring 400-500 square metres per day, make that 750-1000 square metres in 3-4 weeks and as much as 1500 square metres per day for super users!”

“The UK gives us a good example of this. To comply with government directives, many local authorities are facing a race against time to ensure they have accurate up to date drawings for premises like schools and nursing homes as well as offices – a race they can never win using traditional surveying methods.”

“So much information needs to be collected by a variety of people – fire inspectors and asbestos surveyors for example need large amounts of data; asbestos and water hygiene issues in older public buildings cannot be determined unless accurate measured surveys exist and are kept up to date. The fact that many local authorities do not have accurate, (or in some cases ANY), plans for many of their public buildings, is under the spotlight.”

Fire regulations and new laws to improve access to buildings for people with disabilities have also raised the profile of property asset management in many parts of the world.

Samsung Q1 ULTRA

Samsung Q1 ULTRA

“If we say the output is 100% accurate in half the time and at half the cost we’re pretty close. Productivity in simple terms is increased by 100% – the work is delivered in one day – therefore the profit is increased by 100%. Mobile technology has actually been proven to increase productivity by up to 1000% when compared to traditional design methods. And that’s not mentioning the less tangible increase in service level to the customer. A return on investment can be seen in some cases on day 1, but we say on average within 14-15 working days, including the cost of the hardware, software and training.”

“To illustrate; a subsidiary of T-COM measured and drew more than 1 million square metres – 13,778 rooms in 1,230 buildings across Germany. The target objective of the contract was not just measuring the exact area of the rooms with a tolerance of just 3% but also measuring mixed areas in just one “go”. The project was completed using a team of 25 in just 15 weeks.”

And the future?

“It is now possible to upload the finished drawing to a portal, and make it accessible from anywhere in the world, again increasing productivity by giving the client 24×7 global design capability at minimal cost.”

“Sector wise initial uptake by internal surveyors such as fire prevention, asbestos, asset management functions and disability access surveyors has been followed by planners and quantity surveyors needing accurate “lay of the land” drawings and external building representations in CAD. We see the internal surveying market continuing to increase, this is already evident in the USA, and the construction industry as being key in the future. Public services, as mentioned, and also utility companies and hospitals are all growth areas, plus banks in the USA as a result of ADA compliance. Geographically that change in culture is starting to happen across North America and Europe, and from Germany is spreading via the existing client base into Eastern Europe.”

Mobile CAD Surveying Ltd are the UK’s main and Graeberts preferred dealers of the Graebert suite of software in the UK. For more information on the Sitemaster Building software or Software and Hardware Bundles, please call us on 0844 567 2609 or email us at sales@mobilecadsurveying.co.uk

You can also download a FREE trial of the software here and also Book a FREE Demonstration

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ROI for Sitemaster Building

May 19th, 2009 2 comments

ROI example for SiteMaster

Responsible facility managers and businesses alike are always looking for ways to minimize their expenses and to hold onto their available resources. They are constantly reviewing and rethinking their operational strategies in order to remain competitive in today’s business environment. In an attempt to accomplish this task many organizations are looking for solutions to increase productivity and reduce costs. SiteMaster Building provides a low cost means to meet that need.

In a recent article for Business Advantage’s CAD Spaghetti, Rob Jones of Graebert UK talks about the benefits of using the SiteMaster system and how businesses can achieve a solid return on their investment.
He states:
“Once users realize how beneficial the system is to their work flow in achieving 90% of the drawing in the field, it certainly opens the mind to this investment and how quickly they can achieve a return on investment.  Most surveyors use a laser measure, a total station, a laptop or some form of computing device; we are the platform that ties them all together to make their investments work a bit harder and certainly a lot smarter. Whatever the size of organization, the investment made in SiteMaster is a very sound business decision” (Jones, 2008).

In order to demonstrate the return on investment potential that can be realized utilizing the SiteMaster product line over the Tape measure and Paper methodology the following examples are provided. Cost estimates for both surveyors and draftsmen are based on arbitrary dollar amounts and are to be utilized for demonstration purposes only as wage rates will vary from organization to organization.   Graebert’s projections for increased productivity are utilized to demonstrate the gains that can be realized by utilizing this system and methodology.

As with any new system there will be a ramp up period for the training of personnel. Initially, a typical survey team will consist of two personnel. Once users become more familiar with the system however they can go to a single person team.  Cost savings can be realized through this reduction in staffing requirement.

Survey Technician Example:

Wage rate per day = Number of personnel *Wage rate per Hr

Traditional Method:                 2 x $21.40 per hr = $42.80 per hr *8 = $342.40 per day

SiteMaster Method:                1 x $21.40 per hr = $21.40 per hr *8 = $171.20 per day

Sq Ft per day

Demonstrable gains in productivity can be realized in the amount of square footage covered in the typical workday by utilizing SiteMaster as well.  Even if the team using the tape measure and paper method switches to using laser distance meters there still remains a disparity in the time required between the two methods because of the additional steps required by the traditional method.    Naturally, productivity increases will rise and fall based on the skill level of the surveyor and the size and complexity of the asset being measured however, productivity gains will be realized in the majority of instances when utilising SiteMaster Building.

What makes this system more attractive is that due to this increase in productivity organizations can recoup their initial cost expenditure of purchasing the requisite software, hardware and training which again serves to only strengthen the argument for utilising the system.

AutoCAD cleanup / Proprietary Symbols / Photos

Field teams utilizing the traditional methodology are collecting data and hand drawing floor plans only to return to the office to calculate the square footage. Once this task is completed, draftsmen must then decipher the drawings and redraw them using computer aided design software such as AutoCAD or Microstation. This is a time consuming redundant exercise that can result in imprecise drawings.  If for any reason the accuracy of the drawing is questioned, surveyors must return to the site to re-verify the measurements costing the organization time and money. For SiteMaster users the drawing of the facilities, the backend cleanup of the drawings and calculation errors can be minimized because they are already drawn and calculated in the software as they are going through the facility. Additionally, every shot taken with the laser distance meter is recorded on a layer of the drawing.  By turning this layer on in the layer manager, distances can be readily seen along with the location and direction from which the shot was taken.  This is an invaluable attribute of the system as it serves to address any questions that may arise about the validity of the survey as well as address the concerns of the client about the accuracy of the final deliverable product.

These are the big time and money saving factors:

Drawing in the field with pencil and paper then in redrawing the plans in AutoCAD takes about 6-8 hours. Draftsmen must create, figure out, draw, calculate square footages, insert title blocks, and add any additional details as might be outlined in the SOW. Then a spreadsheet has to be created that contains square footages, area use codes, room numbers, and cubic volumes if the data is available.

Utilizing SiteMaster the backend clean up in CAD is roughly 30 – 40 minutes per file and it includes the spreadsheet.

In order to demonstrate the costs savings that can be realized as a result of the reduced cleanup time required the following example is provided based on an 8 hr field drawing time utilizing both methods and a file load of 300.

Draftsman Example:

Cleanup costs = (Number of files*estimated time per drawing) * wage rate per hour

Traditional Method
(300*16)*$21.40 = $102,720.00

As stated previously utilizing SiteMaster we estimate that it takes roughly 30 minutes per file to do the cleanup.

SiteMaster Method
(300*8.50)*$21.40 = $54,570.00

The resulting delta  would be a 2,250 hr reduction in the man hours required and a realized profit of $48,150.00 as a result of the reduced effort.

Reports

As mentioned before, another great feature of SiteMaster is that the room and area data can be exported into a program like Excel for further analysis.  This can be very beneficial to facility managers when doing space utilization studies to determine how to optimize existing space, calculate costs for leases, cleaning contracts and for maintenance and repair budget development.

If reducing your costs and increasing your productivity sounds good to you and you want to learn more about how SiteMaster can work for your organization, visit our SiteMaster page and click on the Product Information and Trials link for free downloads of trial versions of all of the SiteMaster line of products.  If you have any questions please feel free to call us at

+44 (0) 871 789 2609.

We look forward to working with you to help you meet your goals.

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