Brewer Engineering Consultants, PLC is a full-service mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) consulting and design-build firm based in Ankeny, Iowa. The company offers a wide range of expertise from retail and office spaces to restaurants to hospital clinics up to 40,000 sq. ft. Municipal water and wastewater treatment and agricultural/industrial process systems are a particular specialty.
Brewer Engineering currently has five employees, including two mechanical engineers and one electrical engineer. Repeat business with architects and other existing clients, as well as word-of-mouth referrals, are vital to their business success.
Matthew Crowl, Brewer’s design/CAD technician, has been an enthusiastic Design Master user since early 2006. “A colleague here at Brewer Engineering learned about Design Master Software at an ASHRAE trade show. At the time I joined the company we were doing our drawings entirely by hand in the CAD system: circuiting by drawing arcs from outlet block to outlet block, using line drawings for duct work, and doing all our calculations by hand. We wanted something to help automate our design process, and AutoCAD MEP wasn’t up and running yet. So we demoed Design Master and I’ve been using it ever since,” remembers Mr. Crowl.
Brewer Engineering licenses all three Design Master products. They use the software on the majority of their electrical projects, as well as bigger mechanical jobs. They started using Design Master Plumbing beginning last year on larger projects like hospital clinics, office buildings and banks. Mr. Crowl notes, “We’re working on using it more and more, such as for lighting calculations, duct systems and so on.”
“The Design Master products speed up my drafting time significantly, especially on electrical projects,” Mr. Crowl continues. “The software really helps us increase our production rate. But the biggest advantage is being able to make changes easily. After drawings go out for bid and come back through the addendum process, the quick turnaround on changes is the biggest time-saver for me.
“Not only can I turn things around quickly for the architects, but I can also make changes very fast once construction has begun. If something comes back to us that we’ve been asked to ‘value engineer,’ for example, we can modify a system very easily. That’s important when a project is going over budget. Also, Design Master makes it easy to compare systems or illustrate different design scenarios for clients in the early stages of a project.”
“Design Master software also definitely improves the quality and accuracy of our designs,” adds Mr. Crowl. “It helps considerably with what I call ‘quality review.’ It makes it easier to figure out when something isn’t quite right.
“Like, after you’ve circuited your panels and you print out the panel schedule, the software helps you see potential problems, such as a voltage that needs to be changed. Likewise, if we’re in a hurry working to meet a deadline, we can look at the drawings quickly and spot potential problems.”
“We haven’t had to deal with 3D modeling or Building Information Modeling (BIM) yet, but we know it’s coming down the road for us,” says Mr. Crowl. “Certain government projects, for example, will soon require that. So we’re very happy that Design Master offers us the capability to export 3D and BIM compatible files.”
“Right after we got Design Master Electrical and configured it with our settings, we used it on a good-sized project: a 10,000 sq. ft. clinic. Anytime we had a question we got a really quick response from their customer support. I also appreciate how frequently we get updates and new releases. I don’t have to wait a year for a bug fix.”
“Design Master Software is always striving to evolve its products to give the industry what it’s asking for – and be highly cost-effective at the same time. That’s a big thing for our small business. In its category of software it’s by far the best value out there.”