Jeff Gray, co-owner and Principal Designer at electrical consulting firm Conley Engineering, primarily designs schools and wastewater facilities. These days, every school project comes to him in Revit, and wastewater may not be far behind: “So far, most of our wastewater clients haven’t moved over to doing things in Civil 3D and Revit, but we are using it on one facility in California.”
When the company started using Revit in 2009, it significantly improved their old workflow; however, there were still limitations they wanted to overcome. In 2017, he says, “We tasked a few of our employees to find something out there for us that would assist us, and [Design Master Electrical RT] was what they came up with.”
Before Revit and Design Master Electrical RT, Jeff drafted one-line diagrams manually in AutoCAD, created panel schedules separately in Excel, and “there was no translation” of information between the two programs. “For years, we’d actually not publish panel schedules in sheets,” he recalls. “The only thing we’d put on sheets is what the circuit number and name would be for the eventual panel schedule. We did that so [Labor and Industries] was only looking at information in one location.” When they did start including panel schedules, he says, “The killer of all projects is when you show information twice, and it’s manual, so it [could be] different. It’s just a coordination nightmare.”
When the company found Design Master, Jeff says, “The first thing we thought was it would really assist us in our one-lines.” They purchased a license and started learning the software, enticed by the promise of having consistent information in the model, schedules, and one-line diagram. While they had a slower start because the resident Revit power-user was not familiar with electrical design workflows, “it was still a pretty smooth process,” he remembers. “Once we got the second person working in DME and we figured out how we should be doing things, it was easy to just issue our own little manual to everybody in the office.” With a little more luck, he estimates they would have gotten acclimated in about thirty days.
Though they originally purchased the software for its one-line diagram capabilities, Jeff says, “to be honest, that’s not what we ended up using it for.” For him, where Design Master Electrical RT shines is how much detail it allows him to add to the model itself.
To pass review, Jeff needs to provide a wealth of information to the reviewers. Adopting Revit made it a little easier, he says, “but DME has helped us do those things. Because there’s so much more information we could put in DME that we couldn’t do in Revit … maximum overcurrent protection, MCAs, that sort of information, was critical to put in there, and it was almost impossible to do in Revit.” He also appreciates the ability to customize how information is displayed. He provides the Description in Upstream Equipment field in the Panel Edit command as an example: “We try to keep [the panel name] as a 4-character name just so it’s really easy to look at the panel tree and see what’s there. But on the upstream device, we want it to read something else. We want it to read the full name. So it was nice to have that ability.”
In addition, Jeff reports, “Every single project, it saves us a massive amount of time.” When coordinating revisions with mechanical consultants, he says, “We no longer worry about needing a week or two weeks to play catch-up … it now takes us about four hours. I mean, you can do the math on that one.” Perhaps more importantly, the software ensures accuracy.
When asked if he could pick a favorite feature, Jeff replies, “I don’t know. [Laughs]” But, continuing remarks on working with mechanical consultants, he makes it clear how much Design Master helps with quality control. “Oftentimes, we have a lot of units in a project, and they have a tendency to change their unit sizes rapidly and frequently. So just that ability to go in there and make some wholesale adjustments to things, it’s helped us not only check everything but to QC the project at the end by having our schedule compared against their schedule.”
More generally, Jeff says, “We end up spending a little bit more time on our distribution than we normally would have,” he says, “but it’s showing us things that we never would’ve picked up. … So we’re making adjustments on the fly to correct those things.” As a result, he adds, “We’re making sure they’re engineered properly, and that’s what’s saving us the time. It allows us to be the engineers we used to be years ago when we had more fee and more time.” Put simply, he says, Design Master “has improved our quality control tremendously.”
As grateful as Jeff is for how Revit has positively impacted his company, he notes that MEP, and electrical in particular, does not get much attention. When he reflects on how Design Master has filled in those gaps, he says, “The whole thing has just been extremely helpful, and every project we seem to use more and more of it.” Further, he remarks, “I’d be very surprised if Autodesk didn’t try to purchase [a company like yours.]”