Tomorrow's Engineer: Sometimes Less Really Is More
I’ve been in this business for more than 40 years, and throughout those years, contract drawings have included equipment schedule sheets and equipment specifications. Not until I joined a D-B firm did I begin to question the need for equipment specifications and equipment schedule sheets.
When I first arrived at the D-B firm, the firm used the traditional specification and schedule sheet for the project manager to solicit quotes. Once we decided on an equipment vendor, we would take the equipment specification and schedule data and transpose the information onto a requisition form to reissue to the vendor for the equipment purchase. Later, we simply eliminated the specification and schedule sheets and used a requisition form from which we would then solicit bids. This same document would become the purchase order when it came time to buy the equipment.
Someone reading this column will argue that at the end of a D-B-B or construction-managed job, the contract specification will get put on a shelf somewhere, never to be looked at again while the schedule sheet will hang on a drawing rack and will frequently be reviewed over the life of the equipment. My answer to that is, “Correct, if we were in the 20th century.” We aren’t in the 20th century, however, and now have 24/7 access to computers.
Separation For ProfitTo this end, let’s consolidate the two sources of equipment information into the contract specification and eliminate the schedule sheet in its entirety. Think about it. Why did we ever separate the equipment specification in the first place? What was the purpose of locating much of the equipment data in one place and then locating performance data in another place? I think every piece of equipment should be scheduled and specified in one place. The benefits are several:
- Eliminates one or more construction drawings
- Keeps all equipment data in one location
- Simplifies the process for contractors to solicit equipment bids by e-mailing the specification-only documents to venders
This single equipment document can later be linked to the facility manager’s CMMS asset database along with the associated, electronic copy of the approved shop drawing submittal and O&M manual.
Next, let’s eliminate the detail sheets and insert the applicable detail with the associated equipment detail. Again, why separate pertinent, associated information simply to compile the detail with other details that are not necessarily related? I think every equipment detail should be included in the associated equipment specification. The benefits include eliminating one or more construction drawings, keeping all equipment data in one location, and finishing off the compilation of equipment specifics (e.g., installation detail to match the equipment manufacturer’s installation recommendations).
So what have we accomplished by eliminating the equipment schedule sheets and details sheets? When I budget a project fee, I create a list of drawings needed to complete the work. While I estimate 40 hrs of time needed to produce the specification, my rule of thumb for drawings is 100/hrs/sheet. This budget estimate for drawings represents time associated with in-house meetings, engineering, and drafting. Based on my experience, the less number of drawings produced, the more time you will have to proactively invest in the construction phase. Equally important is the ability of the owner to quickly access all electronic documents from his computer whether he is sitting behind his desk at work, in the equipment room, or offsite using a wireless computer connection.
Based on my estimate, if I can eliminate the schedule sheet and the detail sheet, I pick up approximately 200 hrs. Giving credit where credit is due, I will need to go back and add in time to complete the equipment schedule and associated detail(s) to the equipment specification. However, if your standard specification has been updated to accommodate this 21st-century approach, it shouldn’t add but 20% to the specification-writing budget (+8 hours).
More importantly, if not most important, you are providing the building owner with one electronic document per piece of equipment, which can be linked to the CMMS for single-source asset data. Remember: More specification pages and less construction drawings equal better documents and more profit for you.