MEP Associates, LLC is a multi-disciplinary engineering consulting and design company, serving clients nationwide. The firm offers a full spectrum of services including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, geothermal, commissioning and energy modeling. MEP Associates has five offices in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Oklahoma. Its headquarters are located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Long-time Design Master Electrical user Jesse Babb, PE, is based in MEP Associates’ Norman, Oklahoma office. “I’ve been using the software since 2008,” Mr. Babb recalls. “At that time all I knew was what I now call ‘the old way’ of doing things, which involved using Excel spreadsheets to calculate table loads and so on. On the first day of our 30-day free trial I could see that this was a much better way to do design.
“As a new user, the software just clicked with me immediately. It’s very easy to pick up and use. I loved it right off the bat, and I’ve used it almost exclusively on pretty much every project I’ve done since,” adds Mr. Babb.
“Here in this office our market is primarily K-12 elementary school projects,” relates Mr. Babb. “The way our project schedules seem to run, oftentimes we get mechanical equipment loads toward the end of the project. We frequently need to make design changes right up until we need to send the drawings out for bid.
“For example, right before the design has to be handed off to the architect, I often have to change some loads or change some circuits—and these changes invariably have a cascading effect. When I change a circuit, this impacts the circuit label on the sheet, the circuit load on the panel schedule, and so on up to the load on the main distribution panel.
“If I were doing things ‘the old way’ I’d have to make and track all those changes manually. Whereas in Design Master anytime you change a device or a circuit you can just tell it to recalculate, and it updates everything for you automatically.
“So you save time at a critical juncture, and you save yourself all those chances for error,” Mr. Babb explains.
Mr. Babb continues: “When I first started designing, I did pretty detailed one-line diagrams with lots of text. But through using Design Master my approach has evolved.
“Now I’m putting less and less detail into my designs in the form of AutoCAD text, and including more and more detail within Design Master attributes associated with the devices and schedules. This makes the one-line diagram as simple and uncluttered as possible, so the contractor can easily see the flow without details getting in the way.
“This approach gets the point across and puts the details right where they should be. Less text and more graphical information equal a more readable drawing. Plus it eliminates the time-consuming process of positioning text and so on,” elaborates Mr. Babb.
“I’ve saved all my standard receptacle blocks, lighting blocks and fixtures that I use regularly in Design Master,” Mr. Babb says. “This was surprisingly easy to do. I just created each one as I needed it.
“The bonus is that now when I start a new project I don’t even have to think about CAD standards—the software automates all that for me,” states Mr. Babb.
“Design Master can potentially change the whole way you design,” Mr. Babb asserts. “When I first started in this business I worked for an engineer, who would mark up a whole sheet of drawings with a red pen. Then I’d enter those changes into AutoCAD.
“With Design Master you can eliminate that whole process: a designer can lay things out and the engineer can oversee and fine-tune that layout. Design Master lets designers really take off with a project, even with very little knowledge of engineering.
“This creates a work flow where engineers’ valuable time is focused on the areas of the job where that skill set is the most essential. If you’re looking to value-engineer your process, that beats spending time writing with a red marker on plans,” Mr. Babb emphasizes.
“Design Master never slows me down,” Mr. Babb declares. “The support staff always gets back to you quickly. But the software is so intuitive that I rarely have to call them. If I don’t know something I can it figure out myself.
“I’m really enthusiastic about Design Master Electrical,” recaps Mr. Babb. “I love it! It’s a great product and I tell everybody I talk to about it… except my competition.”