August 23, 2011
State of Electrical Estimating Industry
Technology is rapidly progressing in our industry, and we are seeing some exciting applications in our preconstruction circle. Today’s CAD drawings have a large amount of built-in intelligence, and our industry needs to be taking advantage of this and automating more of our estimating tasks.
At Faith Technologies we have been doing more electronic takeoffs to improve our accuracy and speed, using our software partner Accubid and their CADLive and LiveCount programs. Each of these programs have their advantages and disadvantages and are still evolving. We are currently evaluating these programs and working with Accubid, understanding their future direction, to continue to develop best practices for our estimating group.
In an ideal world, we are the designer for a project. We utilize symbols from our CAD library to generate drawings that we take to the customer for review. Then from that document, we can automate much of the estimating process basing it on electronic counts and measurements. When something changes in the design, as often occurs during the preconstruction phase, the same parameters are applied to the revised document generating an updated estimate. The same drawing can be further detailed and used on the jobsite as a detailed installation drawing, eventually revised to an as-built version and delivered to the customer at project completion.
Any of us who have used WebEx before have used the Software as a Service (SaaS) concept, where the software resides outside of our company and is served up through the internet. We pay a subscription fee to access the vendor’s servers. The concept seems to be gaining more momentum as reliability of internet access increases, but it is still a risky proposition to do all of our estimating this way.
I recently read a report where four of the leading electrical estimating software companies on the market today, ConEst, Accubid, McCormick Estimating Systems, and Vision InfoSoft, were interviewed regarding trends in electrical estimating that are taking shape right now. Read more on that they had to say here.