Daily Archives: June 4, 2009

On-Screen Electrical Estimating – Chapter Two

As mentioned in my last post, here are some of my likes and dislikes regarding on-screen estimating. The likes are first.

  • No Paper Handling – Some of our larger projects show up on a pallet. Even small project documents add up after awhile, requiring substantial space for archiving.
  • A Minor Point – No more paper cuts.
  • Faster Estimating – Time is saved during takeoff. When you click on an item, it is counted, highlighted, and listed in a takeoff. All this is done in one step, instead of three. It also eliminates data entry errors.
  • Overlays – No more light tables. You can overlay any plan sheet (or portion of a plan sheet) on another plan sheet. Need to see where the homeruns go to on another floor. Just overlay the two floors. Got change orders? Overlay the new plan sheets over the original plan sheets, and the differences are clearly shown.
  • Ergonomics – About 5 years ago, I started experiencing neck pain. The doctors concluded that over thirty years of looking down at a desk was starting to create damage. I was sent off to the chiropractor. I have been using an on-screen takeoff program for about eighteen months, and have not been to the chiropractor for about twelve months. Not looking down at a set of plans for eight hours a day has been very beneficial.
  • Portability – I think my UPS driver is mad at me. He does not deliver here very often anymore. Being able to obtain and deliver documents with the Internet and email is a boon. It also makes collaboration on a project easier.
  • Supplies – I think the local Staples Office Store manager is also mad at me. I no longer purchase box after box of highlighters and pencils.
  • Advanced features – These programs all have special features that make estimating and plan handling easier. For instance, you can create a snapshot of a feeder schedule, and display it on a second screen while doing takeoff on your primary screen. Another is the ability to create bookmarks, which make it simple to move around large projects.
  • Vision Issues – For those who need vision correction, the ability to set a monitor at a fixed distance makes it much easier to manage. You will no longer need to move closer or farther from the plans, put glasses on or off, or be adjusting to look over and under your bifocal line.
  • It’s More Fun? – One of my estimators told me that working on-screen is more fun. Maybe I’ll get more work out of him. For a while.

Here is my dislike.

  • Screen Size – These programs do work on smaller monitors. I currently use a 22″ wide screen monitor. The zoom and pan controls make it very easy to move around the documents on this screen. I am however, keeping an eye on large monitor prices, and will soon purchase a larger screen. It will probably be sized around 30″. Take note that large screen TV’s may not have a very high resolution for the PC input. I have seen 37″ TVs with only a 1366 x 768 resolution. By comparison, my 22″ monitor has a resolution of 1680 x 1050.

Well, that’s it folks. let me know wht you think.