Tomorrow's Engineer: Today's Technology, Tomorrow's Opportunity
I'm on to another new business venture! Last month, it was the vision of proactive IAQ management. This time, I have a more realistic goal: integrating computer programming with engineering. Vital to my quest and my vision is finding a way of capturing building design, construction, operation, maintenance, and/or master planning needs on a computer.
I believe this concept is the next generation of building technology that started (for me) last year in this space when I addressed the need to establish an industry standard for completing punchlists. At that time, Amanda Parolise rolled out a "paper version" standardized format to complete this task in her "Hvacr Designer Tips" (March 2001).
Beyond these two columns, I was beginning to think about computer programs for the building industry - software that building owners, building operators, the design community, and the construction industry can use in the office or on a handheld computer. I see many of tomorrow's business opportunities being created by professionals who can configure your experience into software programs. If you don't believe me, check out the second half of this month's "Back to Basics" test, which has changed to begin to reflect using software for this task.
Since moving on with this new venture, several conversations with professionals in the building industry have revealed fragments of this concept already in place (e.g., the computerized punchlist program, a bar-coding program). I have determined that it is very viable to "configure experience" through development of software that could be used as conveniently as the programs already held in a PDA type of computer technology. While these handheld devices have quickly caught on for daily calendar, contact lists, and things-to-do lists, this technology is just scratching the surface with what can be achieved by thinking outside the box.
Advantages Of Standardizing
Look around and see how many people are already using these basic, portable programs (such as CMMS workorder systems with handheld equipment data software), and now think of how much more can be done. Why not combine program experience with building experience? It doesn't matter where you fit in the building industry. You may be a facility manager, developer, construction manager, architect, or engineer. To me, this next step up technology's ladder is a no-brainer when you think of how easy the concept is. And why is that so? Here are some features and benefits of programming building experience into building application software:
- Time management through action-reaction checklists;
- Trending and "lessons learned" when checklist data is downloaded into a database;
- Out of the database can come value-added, dollars-saved, and/or cost-avoidance financial incentives;
- Quality initiatives through similar action-reaction checklists;
- Seamless transfer of documentation, downloaded from the handheld computer into the server database;
- Less chance of error in transferring documents from the field to office; and
- Seamless transfer of documentation out of the server database and into another software application.
Changing the way we do business using today's technology has become an annual event since the inception of computers, and this year is no exception. The building industry continues to change and grow when computer systems engineers are contracted out to sit next to a design engineer, walk a jobsite with a job superintendent, or provide support services to a property manager. Envision your team made up of the standard job roles, and now add in a systems engineer consultant as an integral part of the project team. Also, remember to include software costs along with reprographic, travel, lodging, and other expenses. With more knowledge and information shaping how we do business, the sky is the limit as "experiences meets technology" through software. As Engineered Systems continues to challenge your automatic control experience with "Back To Basics", log on to BuildingSmartSoftware.com for more information about "Commissioning 1-2-3," the first computerized software program for building management, the design community, and construction industry. Taking a line from the Beatles, today's technology is changing the way we do business ... "with a little help from a (programmer) friend!" ES