Posts Tagged ‘autocad mep’

DraftLogic Electrical and Untrained Users…A Cautionary Tale

Monday, May 13th, 2013

This cautionary tale applies to all software that provides any degree of automation, herein we will focus in on the DraftLogic Electrical building electrical design expert system.

The Power of Automation…and Power Tools

Comparing the productivity of DraftLogic Electrical versus raw AutoCAD, Revit, or the MEP versions thereof is like comparing a jackhammer to a 10 pound sledgehammer…the productivity difference on a job of any material size is immense!

The Danger of Automation…and Power Tools

Similar to the jackhammer versus sledgehammer comparison, however, the user of the tool must know how to properly use the tool. An untrained jackhammer user is likely to hurt themselves rather than do a quality job in an efficient manner without injury. DraftLogic Electrical adds lots of building electrical design functionality to AutoCAD. Much of this functionality is highly automated expert systems tools.  Typically, the more a particular tool does for you, the more important it is to provide good base data to that tool.

A designer untrained in the use of DraftLogic Electrical is highly likely to feed bad data into the expert system automation and thus make things harder for themselves. How can a designer create bad data? Well, AutoCAD is basically a completely open design environment…you can design what you want how you want. This is great for design flexibility, not so great when you are trying to help a user create a CEC or NEC compliant building electrical design and using expert systems automation to help the user get to a completed design a lot faster.

What are some of the things that untrained users can do that will make trouble for themselves?  A good example is failing to use the Circuit Manager to create relationships between distribution devices. Users manually filling in the parent ID and circuit attributes on distribution devices will often mistype in one or the other, or leave one of them completely blank. They will also use the same circuit number for multiple devices. Phase, pole, and voltage incompatibilities are often created. None of these things can happen when the Circuit Manager is used–that’s why the training videos tell users to use the Circuit Manager many times.

The Cautionary Tale

I recently assisted a client with a fair-sized project, likely 400 person hours of design work if done in raw AutoCAD or AutoCAD MEP…more if done in Revit or Revit MEP. The project was started by one user on DraftLogic Electrical but due to resource constraints in the design firm was handed to another user early on. Unfortunately, only the initial user had taken the time to carefully go through the training program.

The second user ended up manually populating their circuiting relationships, with errors in almost every one, rather than using the Circuit Manager & also manually populated feeders rather than let DraftLogic Electrical supply code-compliant feeders for everything and only after that override those select few feeders that are desired different from a basic code compliant calculation. These errors jammed up the reporting automation completely.

Much badness resulted: I had to perform a detailed review on the drawing, the user was frustrated because their project was halted, and after my review they had to rework basically all of their distribution circuiting. We got everything sorted out and put the project back on track, but at a cost–the project should have taken 120 hours or less in DraftLogic Electrical rather than 400 in AutoCAD but due to the errors I am pretty sure the hours ran up to over 250.

Let Their Painful Lesson Save You the Same

In summation, AutoCAD is the wild, wild west for the variety of data that a user can create. In DraftLogic Electrical we attempt to balance between placing restrictions to ensure that users create good data versus not restricting their design efforts. It’s a tough balancing act, and throwing an untrained user into the mix is highly likely to make problems for all concerned. So please ensure that anyone you desire to enjoy the DraftLogic Productivity boost is given ample time to learn how to use DraftLogic Electrical properly. Their ongoing productivity gains from efficiently using everything that DraftLogic Electrical has to offer will make the upfront few days training time investment completely insignificant.


Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Visit us on the Internet:



Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

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


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.


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.


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

Check it out and change the way you do things.

Gerry Stebnicki, P. Eng, Bsc. Electrical