jump to navigation

Construction PDFs: How General Contractors Streamline Processes May 11, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

When it comes to sharing documents, the Portable Document Format (PDF) is the standard. Everyone receives PDFs via email, but not all PDFs are designed for construction industry use. Most PDF software will address the needs of administrative personnel but the operations side of the contracting business is ignored. So what do I mean by a construction PDF?

Construction PDF with Markups

Looking at how construction teams collaborate on plans, revise project designs and work in the field, documents must be easily accessed and kept up to date as they are referenced frequently for a variety of tasks. A quick list of functions you can do with a Construction PDF includes:

1. Create an electronic “As-Builts” turnover package for project owners with embedded O&M manuals
2. Collaborate on Plans with Studion Web Conferencing, recording markups by participant along the way.
3. Step Thorough Plans with Hyperlinks to Details
4. Punch the Project Electronically and Back Check Quickly
5. Generate 3D PDFs from Revit & Navisworks or 2D from AutoCAD
6. Embed 3D BIM renderings into RFI PDFs
7. Perform Estimating Takeoffs while Collecting Location and Material Information simultaneously.
8. Let the Computer Find symbols on Plans for you with Visual Search

A construction PDF is just more flexible and makes plans easier to manage. It also can be opened by popular PDF readers and still extends the hyperlinking properties when opened. What’s interesting about construction PDFs are that they are a secret to most general construction firms. Those that use them have a competitive edge and want to keep it that way, but not me. I’m here to help educate the construction industry – and hopefully make a living at the same time. Here’s where you can learn more about Bluebeam – The Construction PDF

The Construction Office Imperative: Digitize, Go Paperless and Mobile February 10, 2012

Posted by carolhagen in construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, Sharepoint.
Tags: , , ,
4 comments

construction document storageConstruction companies are bombarded by documents daily and making those documents electronic will reduce paper right? Not so fast. According to this Digital Landfill article “77% of invoices that arrive as PDF attachments get printed. 31% of faxed invoices get printed and scanned back in.” Heck, I know people that print out their email! If this is happening in your construction office it’s time to address the problem.

First let’s address AP invoices and email as everyone has them. If your construction accounting system doesn’t have at minimum a drag n drop feature for documents and emails, it’s time to look for an integrated, comprehensive replacement solution. It’s costing you money staying with software that doesn’t acknowledge how documents are distributed today. Next, give your AP staff Dual Screens keep documents electronic in constructiondual screens so they can process the invoice without printing it out. If you have a process that says match the PO, receiver and invoice together before entering into AP, then you should find a solution that allows you to match the documents by PO number electronically. Making the process fully electronic saves time, eliminates filing and makes document retrieval almost instant.

This also holds true for your construction project management software. Correspondence, contracts and RFIs, change orders, and drawings are frequently emailed. What’s your process to have those emails hit the job jacket? Larger firms share their documents with owners, suppliers and government agencies on Microsoft Sharepoint servers. So now you have two copies of the same document… One in the project software and one on Sharepoint. Let’s also email this out to a few people in the field and you see what happens – copies of copies. At least they’re all electronic. As-builts, Operation and maintenance manuals represent volumes of paper but take little space when electronically rendered. Having an enterprise content management system in place can eliminate the multiple copies, and keep you in synch when it comes to a records retention and destruction policy.

the speed of response to customers, suppliers, citizens or staff by 6-times or more. 70% estimate an improvement of at least 3x, and 29% see an improvement of 10x or more

Many documents in construction also are forms-based. Subcontractor pre-qualifications, timecards, and Human Resource employment records to name a few. While many have turned to Acrobat Professional for forms filling, having the whole workflow process automated is usually not addressed. Some forms spawn more forms (based upon data on the first form). Forms are used to collect data and often that same data needs to be re-keyed into another system. Today’s electronic forms capture can not only capture signatures, each field’s data can be captured and automatically input on another form or shared across software systems. Imagine an equipment usage form updating the equipment usage entry or a timecard form updating the time card entry in your construction accounting system.

The real allure of digital documents in construction is having access to them from anywhere, as many documents get distributed as part of an approval process. Review and approval on a iPad, signature capture on a form and granting access from a mobile device can return big dividends. Access from anywhere, anytime eliminates the interruptions of office staff resulting in better productivity in the office and field. On average, businesses using scanning and capture say that they see “the speed of response to customers, suppliers, citizens or staff by 6-times or more. 70% estimate an improvement of at least 3x, and 29% see an improvement of 10x or more.”

These are compelling statistics. So where can you learn more? The Phoenix Construction Peer Exchange on February 24th. We’re having a guest keynote speaker, Randy Stutzman from FMI Capital Advisors present “Building Value for Your Construction Company Through Your Accounting and IT Groups” and offering two separate educational tracks addressing IT Strategy and Content management. While I am co-hosting the Phoenix Construction Peer Exchange, this event is traveling to other cities throughout the United States. All the event details can be accessed here. You may also want to join The Construction Peer Exchange online in LinkedIn Groups.

Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 3 – Large Format Drawings and Markups July 28, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in CAD, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Collaboration on large format construction drawings often has the expectation that all the team players have the same tools. Architects and engineers spend countless hours in AutoCad then share their drawings with the General Contractor. Most smaller GCs have a license of AutoCad just to open these files and make a few annotations. But not everyone on the construction team is fluent in AutoCad nor has a licensed copy. To share details and collaborate the next best thing is make a PDF, but depending upon the PDF software, the drawings may not turn out as detailed as the designer created them. This is a sore spot for Architects and Engineers who are detail oriented. The more you zoom in, the more pixelated they may become. This happens because these PDF programs are not designed to generate Vector PDFs. Bluebeam PDF Revu CAD to the rescue! Cad Drawing conversion to PDF Comparison: Bluebeam vs Competition

Large Format drawings may have sweeping arcs that look like straight lines strung together, not in Bluebeam. The Vector graphics are retained even when you decide to reduce the size of the PDF for emailing. You don’t have to tolerate mediocre PDF conversion any longer!

For AutoCad enthusiasts, Bluebeam speaks your language with the same quick keys for inserting line, text boxes, etc you’re learning curve will be a breeze. Markups are also a snap as you can create tool sets during one markup session, save them and use them again later. A square “cloud” can be colored yellow with a 50% opacity and used over and over again, even changing the shape without having to create it from scratch.

For the non AutoCad user, the multi-click navigation to get to add a text box is eliminated, even if you aren’t familiar with Quick key shortcuts. Bluebeam designed PDF Revu with easy navigation tool bars that are customizable so you can have the cloud, Text box, line, arc, or call out handy. Put them where you want them, or surround the workspace if you like with nav buttons on the top, right or bottom.

Next week I’ll showcase the AutoCad export functions which add flexibility and save time in the the PDF creation process. If you want to experience Bluebeam for yourself, here’s the 30 day trial option.

Have questions? I’m here, yes, to answer Bluebeam questions for you in the AEC industry. If you try the 30 day trial Leave me a commment on your experience.

IPhone Apps I Wish were All Available on Blackberry September 25, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, Construction Industry Hardware, Document Imaging, iPhone, scanner, twitter.
Tags: , , , , , ,
3 comments

My Friend Tom Davanaugh is more enthusiastic about his iPhone than any other tech gadget he’s ever had.  That’s significant since Tom has lived and breathed IT for decades and is dedicated to educating the construction industry on ECM solutions.  Whenever we chat he mentions new apps he’s using.  The latest excitement has come from JotNot and Evernote since document imaging and mobility are required in the construction business today.

Want to capture expenses easily … so easy an executive will do it himself?  Jotnot turns your iPhone into a scanner and with the Evernote integration you start cooking!  Categorizing your text notes, voice recordings, and snapshots, you can organize notes into notebooks, add tags, search and more.  You can capture text, webpages, voice recordings and your tweets too.   There’s more coming per their blog with the beta 3.5 new release.  Things like auto spell checking, faster searches, map views are on their way.  The combination of these two apps usurps an earlier blog entry I made on iPhone scanner apps.

Here are Tom’s favorite iPhone apps, not in any specific order… if you are getting hooked yourself and some of these apps are available on blackberry (BB): 

Tom Tom             GPS !!!

Google                 Which has every google app all on one screen (BB)

Vlingo                   Amazing voice commands to search the web, get map directions and or voice dial. (BB)

Appbox                A utility set 

Camera                Depending on the application required I have several, most of them zoom and or improve native camera functions…  camerabag, genius, izoom, photogene, colorsplash, picture safe…  all of these either do some amazing things to make the camera more usefull or allow you to manipulate and or modify the photos…

 Tidegraph            I am a fisherman

 Navionics             Is specialized GPS and more (waypoints etc) for the water…    I am a fisherman

 Glaurung             Chess  I am a chess player also

Koi pond              The longest living creature on the planet… and a way to have a virtual koi pond    Which I also have in the entry of my home only it’s a real one

DocScanner        Take a pic and voila you have just virtually scanned!

Zen Garden        Nice to burn up some free time

Urbanspoon       A way to find a restaurant like you were a local

Stars                      I am a student of the universe

Planets                 because I am both a fisherman and see above

Dollar Origami    No way…   yep!

Stanza                   a Kindle like app with access to the Gutenberg project…

Ultimate quote machine               because there were many other well spoken people before me

PM sayings         cause I used to be one and they are so appropriate still today

Ocarina                 A musical instrument that also broadcasts what is being played on it all over the world in real time

Backgrounds      Amazing photos

NoteVault           The same one for the construction industry…

Just having the internet in my hand and being connected even at 36000 ft is pretty powerful.  The search ability of the stuff in the phone itself is awesome like a google appliance

JotNot and evernote.com – It is cheaper than Docscanner (3 instead of 9 dollars)… saves in more formats… and is integrated with evernote.com …   this one wins so far… it also does more than paper.

Some great games for those that love em and have the time…

Shazam … it samples recorded music and comes back with the title and artist and YouTube video and suggestions of songs like it. (BB)

Might as well add my stock app also… there is one for each of the common and popular systems out there.

If you are still reading, Tom has his Blackberry strapped to his waist while he waits for corporate to allow call forwarding to his iPhone.  And I was lazy looking up all the links for all these apps…just go get your iPhone now and you can thank Tom.  He’s out there!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 145 other followers

%d bloggers like this: