Archive for the ‘Building Electrical Design’ Category

SIZE MEANS EVERYTHING

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Okay, now that we have your attention read on to find out why.

DESIGN SOFTWARE SELECTION

When choosing the right electrical design software to use for your project the right choice can yield enormous benefits in efficiency, such benefits multiplying the larger the building.  Here is an example where the power of automation in design can be leveraged to create significant productivity gains.  Time spent is not necessarily directly proportional to the project size.  This can be argued with any software application but some will produce far better results than others.  Those that offer only enhancements to what amounts to still completely manual design will limit production to human speed and the time for the job, meaning time for a larger job varies basically proportional to the size of the job.  On the other hand, software that offers automation can multiply the productivity results many fold and reap huge rewards for the designer and contractors.

AUTOMATION VASTLY MULTIPLIES DESIGN PRODUCTIVITY

As an example we recently tested the capability of our software on a 725,000 sq. ft. plant building.   In that job, we placed approximately 7,000 light fixtures including zonal cavity lighting calculations for over 450 rooms and placed receptacles in all rooms.  We completely circuited the project, populated 195 electrical panels and created a single line & panel schedules completely automatically with all load calculations done including selection of feeders, selection of protection, calculation of fault levels for each panel, indication of minimum IC handling for all protection, and accommodation throughout for voltage drop.  This entire process once the drawings were set up took only hours.  Estimating that there were approximately 4000 circuits to connect doing this manually would have taken around 200 hours ( a conservative estimate) just for the circuiting let alone filling in schedules, creating single line diagrams and doing load and fault level calculations.  Taking these tasks into account would likely would have doubled that time for the manual circuiting and single line process.

Looking at the project as a whole, thus including device placement, circuiting, and generation of all schedules and floor plans, using normal ACAD tools this would have easily taken over 40 to 50 man weeks.  We achieved this result in less than two man weeks including all drawing set up, layouts and calculations & creation of all client deliverables.  An astounding accomplishment when one considers what was done in this compressed time frame.  The work completed in the aforementioned time included everything already mentioned plus the drawing of multi-circuit home runs and device to device interconnections for branch circuit wiring & creation of a complete bill of materials that included branch circuit wiring, feeders, all devices, and panel+protection summaries with required IC levels noted.

BE A LEADER NOT A FOLLOWER

Seek out and find the right tools for the job, do your research and use your time effectively because your competitors are doing the same thing.

This strategy can get your foot in the door with new clients when they understand what you can do for them, and it will make your life easier with contractors by reducing the number of design errors on your project regardless of size.  Automation effectively applied can change your life, release a great deal of repetitive drudgery and at the same time improve quality.

DraftLogic Electrical offers patented automation tools that are not offered anywhere else.  Possible productivity gains are astounding and have been proven, time and time again and we have carefully measured and documented the results in a white paper available on our website at www.draftlogic.com.

Check it out and change the way you do things.

Gerry Stebnicki, P. Eng, Bsc. Electrical
President
DraftLogic

New Software Tools — Not Like Classic Cars!

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Do you know anyone that owns a classic car?  They probably don’t drive it much, usually only a few km a year to go exhibit at a local car show or maybe even just a few meters a year to load on and off a trailer to transport to car shows.  The classic car is thus not used day-to-day for regular transportation needs, it has only specialized use.

Why the classic car reference?  Well, some software tools that are intended to be used day-to-day end up being used only for specialized purposes.  We think this happens because people have spent years doing things they way they do and would like to stick to ‘old reliable’ processes except where it is blatantly obvious that the new tools is best suited for a particular job.  The possible return to the company of the affected software tools is drastically reduced by this behavior, since the benefits of the tools are only experienced on occasional jobs instead of all possible jobs the software tool can benefit the company by being used on.

Some folks see a demo of DraftLogic Electrical or are trained on it and then assume that DraftLogic Electrical is suitable only for specific purposes…kind of like that classic car.  Well, today I write to let you know that we designed DraftLogic Electrical to provide you advantages on almost every kind of project.

DraftLogic Electrical has six phases of amazing automation:  automated room creation, automated electrical device placement, automated circuiting, automated branch circuit wiring, automated floor plans/reports/schedules, and automated export of the entire project into ConEst IntelliBid.  What we occasionally fail to communicate is that each of these phases of automation is completely separate and that the data needed for any of the subsequent steps can be generated using other tools that we supply.  So, for example, a user can manually prep the architect drawing for use with DraftLogic Electrical, place the electrical systems devices using our tool palettes, and use the Circuit Manager to manually complete all the circuiting.  DraftLogic Electrical sees all this completely manually created data as the same as data created by all the automated phases.  Subsequent automation works just fine with the manually created data, allowing users to take advantage of the automated branch circuit wiring, automated floor plans/reports/schedules, and automated export of the entire project into ConEst IntelliBid–regardless of how the devices were placed in the drawing and circuited.

And by the way, our ‘manual’ tools are not very manual!  DraftLogic Electrical devices know whether they are wall, ceiling,  or floor mounted and automatically snap and rotate to reference locations like walls and tbar cells.  Tools like auto reload and high volume move and copy tools vastly reduce the number of mouse clicks and keystrokes necessary to get the electrical devices you need into the drawing.  DraftLogic Electrical does not do absolutely everything for you and there are some things that we have not attempted to automate, namely high voltage applications and large industrial design needs. The key thing to understand is that even with projects where you will need to use your current tools DraftLogic Electrical can still integrate nicely with that project and deal with all the areas we do well. Any electrical loads, lights, receptacles, motors, panels, special outlets and auxiliary systems we handle efficiently, accurately and effectively.

After training new users on how to take best advantage of our revolutionary building electrical systems design software, DraftLogic Electrical, we know that it is absolutely vital that they use it as much as possible in order for the the training to have been useful.  There is a direct and strong relationship between familiarity with a software tool and the benefit that one can gain from it.  So even in the very unlikely scenario where using DraftLogic Electrical has the same productivity as your current processes in doing a project, there is benefit in using it due to the experience that the designer gains, thus improving performance on subsequent projects.

Are there needs you have on a project and you are not sure how DraftLogic Electrical can meet them?  Call or email me and if I can’t show you how DraftLogic Electrical can meet that need now, our development team will quickly add the needed functionality!

Kindest Regards,

Dean Whitford
Chief Operating Officer
DraftLogic Electrical
dwhitford@draftlogic.com

Success Through Technology and Process

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Technology – Make it Your Advantage

Our world is changing more rapidly than many of us would like but the reality that technology is becoming more and more important in our daily lives is clearly evident in everything we do.

Computers have changed our lives forever and will continue to impact how we manage our time and activities. It has shaped the way our children see the world and what many of us older generations see as an inconvenient intrusion into our private lives the younger generations see as an undeniable advantage of access to communication and information.

Failing to recognize the importance of technology in our evolution will leave us at a disadvantage. Innovative and creative companies that embrace the new tools are the ones that will advance and grow as they are serving the new generations that have high expectations.

Work ethics are changing, long term commitment of staff is an elusive goal for many companies. Often the only consistent denominator in many organizations is the operating system that can accommodate change easily.

Removing Some of the Variables

The establishment of a dependable and easily manageable system for production that is efficient and productive can yield large rewards. A system that will accommodate staff changes easily and is consistently productive and meets the needs of consumers is critical for success. Look at McDonalds, which has endured for decades by doing things right. Make no mistake they have changed dramatically over the years to adapt not only to consumer demands but also to allow the system to work efficiently despite a high churn rate for staff.

Building the right system for your organization can mean the difference between success and failure.

Use the Right Tools Effectively

Having the right people is important but you also need to empower them with the tools, resources and knowledge to work effectively and efficiently. Today that means the most current technology in the vast majority of cases. If you don’t keep up with technology you will be left behind.

At DraftLogic, we understand the importance of making things easy to use and highly efficient. A system that automatically complies to standards, reduces the opportunity for errors, is productive quickly and fits well into the technological demands of today’s world is an important ingredient for success.


Do Your Research

When looking at new technology make sure you look carefully at what each product can do for you. There are many tools out there with many claims. It is important to understand what is reality and what is sales hype. Don’t be fooled by buzz words and claims that make unrealistic promises

At DraftLogic we have backed out claims with detailed benchmark testing.

Those that chase dreams will catch them.

Gerry Stebnicki, P. Eng, Bsc. Electrical
President
DraftLogic

BIM and Building Electrical Design Production Software Confusion

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The BIM Buzz

BIM (building information modeling) is the new buzzword for building document production. Creating a 3D model is an exciting new way to represent the building element electronically and allows the designers to fly around and through the 3D images to see how all major components fit together. The advantages over previous 2D technology is the ability to do coordination with all building systems and a compelling way to show clients the spatial relationships that they may not have clearly understood without the benefit of this tool. There is value to the BIM approach but it does not come without a cost. Time must be devoted to creating both the base data and the rendered images, thus there is a balance to be struck between how much time is spent and how far to carry the details.

The Tools

There are many software programs available to create 3D imagery such as Revit and Sketchup.  Most can be compiled into an integrated image with 3rd party software. Programs designed for this purpose are generally easy to use but create large files and have some practical challenges that will limit the level of detail that is created. Most 3D models will include the architectural base and major elements of structural, mechanical and electrical systems that are of sufficient size or location critical to have relevance to the final model. In most cases smaller system components are not shown because as the size of a component is diminished the number of it generally increases as systems branch to the end points. Smaller components are usually not important to the 3D coordination model as they usually can be easily routed on site to fit in spaces available.

How far do you go in 3D?

The answer is easy: only go as far as you need to! Communicate with your client to find out what they really need. In electrical drafting, do you need to show anything beyond the big stuff, distribution boards, cable tray, buss duct, 4” conduits,etc?  Not really.  Even for the components you are interested in, you only need to show those in congested areas so that can cut down your work considerably. In some cases you may want to show some detail like wall plugs, switches etc in typical rooms for coordination but that should be about it.

I hate to break the news but showing ¾” conduits is of little value in the vast majority of cases because it is unlikely installing this size of component will be a problem so nobody cares about modeling to that level in a building. Most firms stop at that point and create the working drawings in their building electrical design production software environment which is usually 2D and much more efficient than working in 3D.

Benefits of 2D

As speedily as possible producing easily managed information that is still perfectly accurate and sufficiently detailed is the primary goal of electrical design firms. In creating DraftLogic Electrical we had that goal clearly in our sights, increasing designer productivity by a minimum of 200% and up to 1300%.

We have included extra information in the 2D model to enable DraftLogic Electrical to create an accurate bill of materials.  Getting to your desired documentation destination in a fraction of the time that would be demanded by working in a 3D environment is extremely beneficial when it comes to creating construction documentation.

Chart your course for efficiency

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do everything with the wrong tools. Use good 3D software to do your modeling and use good building electrical production software to do the rest. A skilled carpenter does not use only one saw for all woodwork, he will have a variety of tools each best suited for a specific task–use software the same way. Yes, you can force results using the wrong tools but why bother to put yourself through that pain?

Gerry Stebnicki P. Eng Bsc. Electrical

President

DraftLogic

DraftLogic Electrical and Global Warming?

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

OK, so what does a building electrical systems design expert system have to do with global warming?  Well, it turns out that building electrical systems design, whether done with DraftLogic Electrical or in some other manner, has a LOT to do with global warming.  This is because efficient, right-sized, and accurate design reduces global warming.  Inversely: inefficient, over-sized, and inaccurate design contributes to global warming.

DIFFERENT MOTIVATIONS, SAME RESULT

Since some of you may not believe in the science behind the global warming threat, how about we talk about things that every building owner desires: safe design that minimizes construction and operating costs and yet meets any future expansion needs they identify.  The choices made by the building electrical systems designer are the same to meet these needs and to minimize the building’s contribution to global warming.

INITIAL EFFECTS

Efficient, right-sized, and accurate design will result in the minimum amount of devices required to provided the needed level of services.  With the right amount of devices, connected in the most efficient manner, the materials required to service the building will be minimized.  This reduces the cost of construction and at the same time reduces the amounts of these goods that have to be manufactured from raw materials and then transported to the building site, thus contributing less to global warming during the construction phase.

ONGOING EFFECTS

Once built, the right-sized design will consume less electricity than an overbuilt design.  This reduces operating costs and, of course, contributes less to global warming assuming at least some of the energy is coming from non-renewable resources.

Whether you believe in global warming or not, I think we can all agree that efficient, right-sized, and accurate design is better.

WHY NOT NOW?

How do we make efficient, right-sized, and accurate design happen?  Well, that means bringing back some of the detailed and repetitive calculations/analysis into building electrical systems design:  performing lighting calculations for each space (e.g. zonal cavity), supplying the needed lighting/receptacles for each type of space and no more, circuiting efficiently to maximize neutral sharing, drawing branch circuit wiring to also maximize neutral sharing while minimizing the amount of wire needed to interconnect everything, and finally sizing the feeders to be safe but not overly large.  Some designers at some companies have been forced to reduce the accuracy of their selections in these regards due to design time limitations and design fee budget limitations.

Performing the detailed calculations and analysis required for the above would add A LOT of time to how long it takes you to design a project, unless your CAD suddenly got A LOT smarter and did the extra work for you!

MAKING IT HAPPEN

Enter DraftLogic Electrical!  DraftLogic Electrical inherently does all those detailed calculations that you don’t have time to do and may have been forced to ‘rule of thumb’ and ‘educated guess’ around.  With DraftLogic Electrical, you take a lot less time to do a lot more accurate design work.  That’s good for you, good for your client, and good for the environment.

A LESSON FOR ALL OF US

Since I cannot resist the urge to preach, and this is MY blog, I am going to do it.

Above I detail how the decisions made by building electrical systems designers affect global warming.  Talking above that major and contentious issue, we can also say ‘the sustainability of the environment that our species lives within’.  Basically ANY job that ANY one of us is doing can also be shown to have similar effects–do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?

Kindest Regards,
Dean Whitford
Chief Operating Officer
DraftLogic