DEI Electrical Consultants, Inc. is an electrical consulting engineering company based in Spokane Valley, Washington. The firm specializes in construction for K-12 schools and colleges, Department of Corrections projects, and smaller commercial jobs. DEI currently has about eleven employees.
Scott Kahler, Senior Electrical Designer, recently came to DEI from a larger firm where he’d used Design Master Electrical extensively since 2005. “At my former employer, we purchased Design Master Electrical to help us streamline our process, get more value from technology investments and work smarter, not harder,” Mr. Kahler recalls. “Now we’re bringing in Design Master for all the same reasons here at DEI.”
“With Design Master it’s very easy to configure the software to support your company standards,” explains Mr. Kahler. “In fact, Design Master lets you take both your CAD standards and workflow efficiency to a whole new level. As you standardize on layers and symbols, Design Master manages all that for you automatically.
“When your CAD techs don’t have to guess anymore because everybody’s using the same symbols to represent the same design elements, you get higher-quality, more readable designs. You also eliminate mistakes that tend to show up in the construction phase, where they create extra work and bog down the project. Design Master automates many of the tedious tasks, such as data entry and calculations, so the designer can focus on designing.”
Mr. Kahler continues: “On each project where we use Design Master, we can adapt it to the team’s skill sets, which saves us time and lets the software add value right away. You can pick and choose what aspects of the project you want to do in Design Master and what you want to do in AutoCAD, and it’s all transparent and fits together on output. You don’t have to do everything in Design Master like with some other programs.”
Currently about one-third of DEI’s design staff is using Design Master. “We’re systematically integrating it into our process here,” Mr. Kahler clarifies. “My goal is to do at least 75% of our projects in Design Master by the end of 2013.”
“It’s exciting because the software sells itself,” adds Mr. Kahler. “Everyone likes what they’re seeing, and the people who aren’t using Design Master yet are anxious to try it. For instance, one of our senior designers, who does nothing but design and redline, now wants to get back into AutoCAD so he can use Design Master.”
“Design Master saves us an enormous amount of time,” asserts Mr. Kahler. “It’s safe to say it improves my personal productivity by over 50% right now. And I know it’s capable of speeding things up even more. Ultimately when we’re making the best use of the software here at DEI we’ll be able to speed up our output by close to 75%.
“Another great thing about Design Master is how it helps you respond so much faster to changes. Like in our education work, our designs are often reviewed by multiple entities, all in tight timeframes. Any time we want to change a circuit or swap a load from one panel to another it’s so easy with Design Master. Just make the change and everything else updates automatically and correctly. No more Excel spreadsheets, no more manual inputs…”
“At my prior job we gave Design Master Software’s support team a lot of feedback over the years,” says Mr. Kahler. “Anytime we’d request a new feature, we’d usually see it in a future release, or they’d even do a quick patch that helped us out right away. That, to me, is huge. With most software vendors, it’s like you don’t even exist.”
“With that kind of support you can really build a solid foundation on the product. As new people come onboard, it’s easy to get them up to speed on using the software and the standards,” Mr. Kahler offers. “The more you use Design Master Electrical, the more it adds value and supports your process over time. It’s such a flexible tool—there always seems to be a way to do whatever is needed.”
“The timeframes for projects keep getting shorter, and that’s not going to change,” Mr. Kahler observes. “To meet those deadlines, you have to fully utilize the resources around you, and put them in the hands of good people.
“When it’s down to the wire and we’re trying to get something out the door fast, that’s where Design Master really shines—everything just flows smoothly and without introducing errors because the software automatically handles so many things you’d otherwise be doing manually,” summarizes Mr. Kahler.