Posts Tagged ‘Building Electrical Design’

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.

 

Regards,
Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
DraftLogic
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Email dwhitford@draftlogic.com
Blog http://www.draftlogic.com/blog
Visit us on the Internet: www.draftlogic.com

 

Tips and Optional New Release: Block Clusters Tool Palette and Dead Stripe

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Greetings DraftLogicstitians (?),

 

Some tips, some news, and an optional update for you this week.  Headline items are the release of the block cluster tool palette and the death of the nefarious Stripe.

 

Block Cluster Tool Palette

 

The ‘add new blocks’ work that we started after the last major release is ongoing.  Today we have a palette of block clusters ready for you.  A block cluster is a bundled set of standard DraftLogic Electrical devices that you place with one click.  The devices can have any sort of values/status attached to them that you like:  specific wattage load, usage, emergency service status, etc.  For example, we have a hospital bed headwall that includes a couple quad receptacles (one emergency power serviced), a nurse call, a code blue, and data/telephone ports.  Normally, even with DraftLogic Electricals auto snap and rotate, you are looking at just over 10 mouse clicks and some keyboard strokes to get this all done.  With the block clusters, it is two clicks to place the first cluster and just one more click for each subsequent one.  Think of the time savings in a facility with hundreds of beds!

 

See this forums item for information.

[http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=136]

 

 

High Volume Move & Copy Tools – Stripe is Dead!

 

Remember Stripe, the evil leader of the Gremlins?  Well, I have been hunting him in the high volume move & copy tools for quite some time.  In training, I tell folks to escape out of those tools and restart them if Stripe shows his ugly mug.  Last week we discovered his hiding place and disposed of the nasty green fellow.  The high volume tools now initialize and function as desired all the time!

 

 

Easy Room Creation with BOUNDARY & Room Creation Method Summary

 

Long ago, we experimented with using the AutoCAD BOUNDARY tool as a semi-automated method for room creation in circumstances where Automated Room Creation was not suitable to use.  Since BOUNDARY relies on a good set-up of active layers/lines, we couldn’t reasonably automate its use.  Our newest user Chris reminded me last week of how BOUNDARY can be very handy to ease the making of manual room boundaries.  See this forums item to learn how BOUNDARY  can significantly reduce your time spent when you need to manually draw room boundaries.

[http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=133]

 

Using BOUNDARY gives us a fourth general method for creating rooms.  See this forums item for a summary of each method and when its use is best called for.

[http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=138]

 

 

Expanding on the Use of Room Gap Lines

 

Sometimes it will be of benefit for you to use room gap lines instead of windows.  A great example is where exterior wall offices have glass walls and doors facing into shared office space in a building’s core.  See this forums item for details.

[http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=137]

 

 

Luminaire Tags in Tiny Spaces

 

We recently discovered and partially resolved a sensitivity that the Automated Luminaire Tags code had for tiny spaces, like closet sized or if you use super slim spaces on exterior walls to capture plugs and receptacles mounted on the building exterior.  Before this optional build, Automated Luminaire Tags would halt when it encountered such spaces because it couldn’t find room in the space to place a luminaire tag.  In the optional build being released this week, we have enabled Automated Luminaire Tags to recognize such ‘impossible’ situations and not attempt the placement of a tag.  Sometime in this quarter we’ll take the final step of empowering Automated Luminaire Tags to place a tag near but outside the space so you get automated tags for exterior wall fixtures.  If you want automated tags to work for these exterior spaces, just ensure they are drawn large enough, say 3m minimum face width, to contain a luminaire tag.

 

 

Optional Update Available Later This Week

 

The optional update that includes any DraftLogic Electrical code & tool palettes updates mentioned above will be available later this week, let me know if you desire to take delivery of it.  Will take just a few minutes to run the updates, a bit extra for those that desire to retain additions and changes they have made to any of their four Libraries data.

 

Regards,

Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
DraftLogic
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Email dwhitford@draftlogic.com
Blog http://www.draftlogic.com/blog
Visit us on the Internet: www.draftlogic.com

 

DraftLogic Electrical News: Luminaire Category Changes, CEC/NEC Tables, and Improved Circuiting Service Areas

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Happy Friday-Before-The-Long-Weekend Everyone!

 

DraftLogic Electrical news this week: You Control Luminaire Categories, CEC/NEC Tables Details, and Improved Circuiting Service Area Validation

 

Luminaire Categories In Your Control

 

You have all seen the 41 categories that the luminaires are organized in when you open the Luminaire Library or select luminaires in the Room Library or Attribute Editor in AutoCAD.  Did you also know that the category names, the order of the categories, which category a luminaire is in, and the contents of the list of categories is all under your control?  That’s right, you can add categories, reorganize luminaires into new and different categories, reorder categories, rename categories, and delete categories.  See this forums entry for details on how to do so.

[http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=132]

 

CEC/NEC Tables Details

 

Interested in knowing the tables and columns that DraftLogic Electrical uses for its automatic protection and conductor selection calculations?  If you prefer data from a different table or column to be used at your site, you can update the relevant DraftLogic Electrical table to make it so.  Contact us for the options on making such changes.  See the NEC and CEC Tables webpage for details.

[http://www.draftlogic.com/cms_pages.php?id=157]

 

Improved Circuiting Service Area Validation

 

In a recent training session, one of our trainees discovered a ‘rabbit hole’ where they were allowed to set up an emergency service area to a panel that was then unable to take any emergency circuiting to it.  In some circumstances, the panel type and segregation were not set to allow emergency circuiting, but the circuiting service area setup process allowed the service area to be created.  In other circumstances, the circuiting service area setup process did not allow the service area to be created, which was correct behavior, but it didn’t tell the user why their desires were not being fulfilled.  Both situations were frustrating!  In our current release, which is an optional upgrade of some files (eta to perform 3 minutes),  we have increased the intelligence of the circuiting service area set up code to offer to automatically make destination panels compatible with the service area being set up & furthermore we added all the necessary messaging to let the user know what is going on with their service area creation.  Thanks go to Chris for finding these issues so that we could improve the situation.  Drop me an email or give me a call if you want the files for the optional upgrade.

 

 

Regards,

Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
DraftLogic
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Email dwhitford@draftlogic.com
Blog http://www.draftlogic.com/blog
Visit us on the Internet: www.draftlogic.com

 

DraftLogic Electrical News: Optional New Dialog, AutoCAD and its Eating Problem, Your Input on Symbols

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Good day, Building Electricalizens!

 

This week we have a goodie to offer you, some tips about keeping your workstation running at peak performance, and a request for your input.

 

The New Units Reconciliation Dialog

 

OK, quick survey: everyone who likes having to jump between the units mismatch warning dialog and the Project Library raise your hand! What, nobody???  Well, today you can get an optional upgrade to get the new Units Reconciliation dialog & be done with ‘the old way’.  See this blog (http://www.draftlogic.com/blog/2012/09/new-units-reconciliation-dialog/ ) and this forums entry (http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=129 ) for information.  Contact me if you want the files to do the upgrade—estimated time to perform is two minutes with no database complexities involved.

 

AutoCAD Eats Memory

 

Any long-time CAD user knows about AutoCAD’s tendency to munch memory and not give it back…due to the tens of thousands of automatic operations typically executed in a DraftLogic Electrical session, DraftLogic Electrical  both exacerbates the memory eating and suffers from it.  This forums entry lets you know what to keep an eye on and how to avoid being the victim of plummeting performance due to memory munching.

( http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=130 )

 

Need Your Symbolic Input

 

OK, let’s straighten that out…we don’t need your ‘symbolic’ input, we need your input on symbols aka blocks!  One of our upcoming releases is going to focus on adding blocks to the DraftLogic Electrical CAD Standard.  Let us know what you would like to see included.  We would love to see what you want, so please also send DWG samples of blocks you would like added to DraftLogic Electrical.  Marty & Julie…I know you would like to see a exit light with floods symbol to complement the entries we added to the luminaire library for them in the last release, let us know how you want it to look  :)

 

Regards,
Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
DraftLogic
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Email dwhitford@draftlogic.com
Blog http://www.draftlogic.com/blog
Visit us on the Internet: www.draftlogic.com

Annotation Organizer Dialog

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

You asked, we produced:  the DraftLogic Electrical Annotation Organizer now has a snazzy new dialog to run it with!

The dialog allows you to control all aspects of the Annotation Organizer tool & further allows you to create, save, edit, and delete templates of settings.

Our June 2012 release includes the dialog with a number of preloaded templates suitable for the most commonly needed metric and imperial plot scales.

Learn more about how to use the Annotation Organizer through its dialog at this forums entry:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=119&sid=e48ca9a13920c08ac804bf4a00b83066

Get a quick overview of what the Annotation Organizer does at this web page:

http://www.draftlogic.com/cms_pages.php?id=139

Please give the new user interface for the Annotation Organizer a try and let us know what you think.

Regards,

Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.

New and Improved Luminaire Tags…Part 2

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

The June 2012 release of DraftLogic Electrical includes further improved luminaire tag automated placement with three enhancements versus the earlier version: faster execution, specific handling for centering in tbar cells, and some further enhancements throughout.

See the forums entry for more detail on how to use the new luminaire tag automated placement:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=115&sid=19bdf5d530398a7ce7e7d6f43d4d5315

 

FUTURE ENHANCEMENTS

At some point in the future, we desire to release the luminaire tag automated placement with three enhancements versus today’s version: even faster execution, better logic for maximizing the number of best location placements versus secondary placements, and last but not least, some enhancements based on your feedback.

So, please try the new and improved luminaire tag tool out and let us know how you would like to see it enhanced!

Regards,
Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.

 

Fault Levels Calculation Workflow and Time Comparison

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

DraftLogic Electrical Versus Traditional Methods

Calculating fault currents for a transformer circuit

Situation description:

Project has 10 dry type transformers feeding panels. System voltage is 347/600 as service entry, transformers are feeding a variety of panel loads at 120/208 volts and one 277/480 volt panel. All panels and transformers are in a plant like building environment so sizes, locations and feeder sizes and lengths are varied.

Panels and transformers are located on the drawings and the designer has been requested to calculate fault levels at the panels downstream of each transformer to ensure that the appropriate breakers are selected for this project. Loads have been assigned to each panel but feeders and transformers have not been sized.

Using traditional methods where a designer is using an on line app to check voltage drop and some form of calculation spreadsheet to assist with the fault level calculations here is an analysis of the tasks and estimated time needed.

Typical workflow using traditional methods

1. Size transformers based on panel loads (loads are known). Estimated time 15 minutes

2. Size 20 feeders from code tables. Estimated time 45 minutes

3. Scale length of each feeder (20 ) on the drawings and check voltage drop based on expected load and selected conductor. Estimated time 40 minutes

4. Change conductor size if needed to satisfy voltage drop tolerance. Estimated time 15 minutes

5. Use fault level spread sheet to calculate fault levels for each component of each feeder, typically this will require calculation of three segments per feeder, the section from the transformer feeder breaker or fuse to the transformer, the transformer let though and finally the last segment from the transformer to the downstream panel. An estimated 70 combined mouse clicks and key strokes per transformer circuit. For 10 such circuits an estimated 700 keystrokes mouse clicks and keystrokes needed (each one an opportunity for error). Estimated time at only 10 seconds average per entry = 116 minutes

6. Collate results and prepare report for review. Estimated time 10 minutes.
Summary; Many steps needed, extensive human input for each step resulting in many opportunities for errors to creep into the process. Estimated total cycle time 241 minutes or 4 hours.

If a change is needed because of load variations the whole or part of the process must be repeated.

Same task using DraftLogic Electrical

Assumes panels were placed on the drawing using DraftLogic Electrical software which will automatically draw the single line and calculate all loads, conductor sizes based on voltage drop settings and will also calculate fault levels automatically at all critical points in the system from MDP to all downstream devices.

1. Select “single line” from report dialogue box and click ‘ok’. Estimated time 30 seconds.

2. Wait for automation to perform all calculations, size feeders and generate fault levels. Estimated time 2 minutes.
Summary; Only two steps needed, that take a couple of minutes to execute all required calculations and prepare a report for review in the form of a completed single line diagram. Estimated total cycle time 5 minutes. Using these tools all power tree objects are dealt with not just transformer circuits, the entire power tree from MDP to all downstream devices are sized, voltage drop is calculated and feeder sizes adjusted, all lengths automatically entered with adjustment factors vertical drops and connections within panels allowed for and fault levels calculated for all objects.

If changes occur, make the adjustments to whatever parameter is altered and re-run the process.

Conclusion

DraftLogic Electrical vastly decreases the time taken to do this task the first time around, taking only a few minutes versus four hours for the traditional method!

Not only does DraftLogic Electrical provide this incredible productivity gain, it also minimizes the opportunity for error. As you can guess from the number of manual actions and calculations being made in the traditional method, it is highly likely that errors will creep in to the manual process.

Lastly, these gains in productivity and accuracy only multiply as the work needs to be done over and over to accommodate for change requests and ‘what if’ design scenarios.

Gerry Stebnicki, President
DraftLogic Inc.
sales@draftlogic.com
780-906-2888
See our website at www.draftlogic.com

New and Improved Luminaire Tags…Part 1

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Question: which building electrical design software automatically places luminaire tags for you? DraftLogic Electrical, of course! Well, you likely all very well knew the answer to that one. DraftLogic Electrical has been automatically placing luminaire tags for you since day one, and further to that it has been automatically categorizing and sequentially numbering the tags to allow for the completely automatic generation of a luminaire schedule.

Although we have always provided you with industry-leading automation like that in the automated luminare tags and luminaire schedule, We at DraftLogic have always wanted to give you more control over the luminaire tagging and also to make even ‘smarter’ placements. With today’s release of DraftLogic Electrical, that is all coming to life.

With the new luminaire tags, you now have lots of control over the results of the automated placement. You choose one of several different density levels and a buffer, scale, and maximum service distance (i.e. distance that multiple luminaires will ‘share’ the same tag).

In about 8 weeks, we plan to release the luminaire tag automated placement part 2 with enhancements versus today’s version: faster execution, specific handling for centering in tbar cells, and last but not least, some enhancements based on your feedback.

See the forums entry for more detail on how to use the new luminaire tag automated placement:

http://www.draftlogic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=115&sid=19bdf5d530398a7ce7e7d6f43d4d5315

As always, please email, call, or chat us if you have any questions!

Regards,
Dean Whitford, CEO & Gerry Stebnicki, President
DraftLogic Inc.

Keys to Success for Learning to Use Software Built for Complex Tasks

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Learning New Software Blues

You know what?  I hate reading software manuals, attending software training courses, and watching training videos as much…or even more…than you do!  I can usually get away without doing any of that…with typical ‘consumer grade’ applications.  It is an indisputable truism, however, that not all software can be made simple and intuitive enough so that a reasonably intelligent person can sit down and effectively use it without having to do any of these horrible horrible things  :)

In Our Experience

We at DraftLogic Inc. have been working with new clients and with potential clients that are setting up pilot projects and trials of DraftLogic Electrical.  Since what happens in the initial learning phase of the software determines whether implementation moves forward or not, we have learned some key factors that determine success or failure across all sites.

These key factors apply to all software that has a tough job to do. What do I mean by that?  Well, typically speaking, the more complex and knowledge intensive the end product, the more complex the software to help users create a quality end product. For example, consider AutoCAD, Revit, and enterprise resource planning products.  Each of these products requires a minimum base level of product knowledge before a user can be truly productive with them.  Sure, someone with reasonable computer experience can sit down and draw some simple entities in AutoCAD, but you and I both know there is no way that someone without experience or training will be able to create professional quality output without some training!

So let’s dig into these keys to success that you can apply to almost any software built for complex tasks, using DraftLogic Electrical as our ‘case study’.

DraftLogic Electrical is going to make your design time both more enjoyable and more productive. It does this by automating boring, low skill, and error prone tasks; thus freeing up much more of your time to be able to concentrate on the important design decisions. You will finish your projects faster and even be able to deliver more value to the client in the shorter design time.

The Three Keys to Success

There are three key things that are all necessary to be successful with DraftLogic Electrical. If you can make these commitments, it is highly likely that you will be very successful with DraftLogic Electrical, i.e. your design productivity will, at a minimum, double and you will enjoy your design time more. The more of these commitments that are not met or are only partially met, the more likely it is that you will not be successful with DraftLogic Electrical and you will miss out on a great opportunity.

Firstly, your company must allocate you paid time during regular workdays to do the video training. The hours required in total are 20-24 if our tutorial school is used as the sample, up to approximately 30 hours if you select one of your projects to try things on.  The video training must be completed in a span of no more than two weeks–any longer and you’ll forget the basics before you learn the other features! In our experience, it is also not going to work if the company asks a designer to learn DraftLogic Electrical ‘as they go’, ‘during lunch times’, or ‘at home in the evening/weekends’.

Secondly, you must go carefully through the entire training video series, pausing the videos often and trying each function on the tutorial school data.

Thirdly, you must not ‘spin your wheels’. We want you to have a positive learning and use experience, not get frustrated trying to figure something tricky out. Call for support when: there is a concept in the training videos that does not seem to make sense, a function does not work when you try them it the tutorial data, or there simply seems to be some instruction or information missing.  Spend a few minutes reviewing the video, quickly check for information in the forums, and perhaps read the particular section for the function in question in the user manual…but other than that, pick up the phone and call 780-906-2888 for help.  Spending a few minutes on the phone with us will save you many more minutes of frustration.  We have noticed that some folks tend to email rather than call, please be aware that email might not get looked at for some number of minutes so it is always best to call if you have a question that needs to be answered in order for you to be able to continue.

In Closing

I have two last suggestions.  The first is for those trying to help clients learn their software–you need both the executives and the users to buy-in to the above to make the learning process work.  The second is for those who have to learn any software built for a complex task–think of the end state of improved productivity with less effort that you will be in after training…that should help you to stay focused and gain maximum benefit from the training.

Happy Software Engineering,

Dean Whitford, CEO

DraftLogic Inc.

 

PS:  interested in seeing a sample video training program?  Check ours out.

ConEst IntelliBid V7 Released–DraftLogic Electrical Design Automatically Transferred

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Hey folks,

In case you missed the ConEst and DraftLogic press releases over the past few months, ConEst released their IntelliBid version 7. In addition to numerous goodies in the estimating environment improved upon over prior versions of IntelliBid, DraftLogic Electrical can transfer every element of your completed design into the IntelliBid V7 count sheets. This saves you innumerable mouse clicks and keystrokes! Now instead of the drudge-work of counting, clicking, measuring, and typing to get the detail from the design into the estimating software, electrical estimators can now focus on applying their estimating discretion to complete an estimate.

See our news page for more information, or the Electrical Contractor website coverage of the same. We also have detail about the IntelliBid integration on the DraftLogic website.

Regards,
Dean Whitford, CEO
DraftLogic Inc.
780-906-2888
dwhitford@draftlogic.com