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- Industry Insights June, 2009
- By Giovanni Marcelli, Founder and CEO, Accubid Systems
Our clients are adopting new technology and accepting change at a much higher rate than ever in the past.
During our Users Conference in Las Vegas last month, we presented our LiveCount™ product, still in beta version, and got an amazingly high acceptance rate. LiveCount will allow our clients to view drawings on-screen, count, measure, and color mark everything that has been taken off.
Envision having two monitors on your desk, one to run Accubid, the second one to display drawings from all types of file formats. Envision counting fixtures, devices, fire alarm, data and telephone with the mouse and marking visibly in color all the counted items, each system with a pre-designated color. Envision measuring branch and feeders with the mouse and leaving a color trace designating the route of the conduit or cable. Envision having all the quantities taken off going to Accubid as you confirm them and have these takeoffs appear on the audit trail.
Imagine being able to review drawings, architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical on your monitor. Imagine not having to open voluminous sets of drawings and flip through the pages to look for a given item or detail. Envision being able to compare drawings and display the changes and or discrepancies in a different color readily identified. Envision not having to pay for reprographic services and related courier charges. Envision not having to pay a deposit for drawings and being able to receive them via e-mail and start working on them immediately.
I do believe that LiveCount is going to make the estimator’s job more pleasant, and make the estimating process more expedient. It is also going to save office space and give the estimator more focus with less disruptions and distractions. Being able to view drawings on-screen, zoom on the details, and use the mouse to navigate through the estimating programs, and measure and count without having to use a probe or a digitizer, counter or measuring wheel, represents a substantial improvement over the current process.
This new approach also offers the benefit of gradually training estimators to better understand CAD and be less fearful of the technology. I see it as a great stepping stone towards enabling estimators to work with CAD and being much better able to deal with BIM in the foreseeable future.
LiveCount is easy to use and fairly intuitive, but I give our clients a lot of credit for seeing the value and benefits and not being deterred by the change involved in the process. One could easily state that the estimating process is the same, and in many ways, you still have to identify symbols to count and runs to measure, but you are doing it on screen not on paper. It is also fair to mention that in the past, the high cost of large monitors have been a major impediment for such a change.
I had anticipated a positive reception to LiveCount, but I was also expecting some resistance to change. I thought that some estimators would be more skeptical at the beginning and that we would have had to spend a lot of time to prove the many benefits that LiveCount brings to persuade them to change.
I recall how difficult it was to convince estimators that they did not need to write the takeoff on paper and then transpose the information to a computer. Some did not feel comfortable with the new process and failed to see that direct input was the better method and that the audit trail on the screen was giving them more information than they could get from the paper trail. The fact that they could get more breakdown details, make changes a lot easier, and sort and reassign the information, did not register right away. It took a bit of time for them to see the light and convert to the new and better way.
One hundred and fifty clients is substantial enough to indicate that a large number of contractors will immediately see the many benefits that LiveCount brings, and that a lot of estimators will want to adopt it right away.
This is a very significant step forward for our industry in that it will make digital drawings much more popular and much more in demand. I am hopeful that the initial popularity of the raster drawings (PDF, JPG, etc.) will make engineers and architects more open to releasing DWG drawings. Once contractors are able to obtain DWG drawings, estimators will be able to save a very substantial portion of the takeoff quantification time by taking full advantage of the information stored in CAD.
Ideally extracting data directly from CAD drawings is where we need to be, but until we are able to get the DWG drawings from Architects and Engineers, LiveCount is our best alternative.
Thumbs up to our clients for realizing that LiveCount will increase the estimators’ efficiency and consequently will enable them to secure more work.
Illustration by Angelo Katsaros