As a third-generation, family-owned electrical and technology construction company, Cochran is well aware of industry trends and advancements that drive improvement.
For more than six decades, Cochran has designed and installed electrical and technological infrastructure for a range of public and private entities that include office buildings, data centers, hotels, higher education campus buildings and healthcare facilities throughout the Pacific Northwest for customers that include the largest northwest-based software developer and online retailer.
Steve Burnett, Director of Preconstruction & Estimating for Cochran, says, “In all cases, when we adopt technology, it’s to improve efficiency or expand functionality, particularly when it comes to estimating. In some cases, a combination of tools opens the door for process improvements that extend from bid review through preconstruction to handover.”
That’s what happened when Burnett and his team streamlined its estimating and preconstruction processes by expanding the use of Trimble® Accubid® LiveCount™, the companion tool to Trimble’s Accubid Classic & Enterprise estimating solutions.
ESTABLISHING TIGHTER CONNECTIONS
Cochran’s Preconstruction & Estimating Group, which includes six estimators and 22 CAD users, works in conjunction with project managers to prepare estimates during the design and construction phases of projects.
Burnett explains, “A large majority of what we do with CAD is in the preconstruction phase of a project—and for efficiency and accuracy, it’s important that we have a tight connection between all estimating and takeoff solutions.”
Cochran relies on Trimble’s Accubid Classic estimating system for bidding and preconstruction tasks. The group is currently migrating to the Trimble Accubid Enterprise solution and working on developing customized assemblies based on the company’s historical database. More recently, the group expanded to the use of LiveCount for its construction take-off across its day-to-day activities.
LiveCount, a software companion to the Trimble Accubid Classic & Enterprise estimating solutions, facilitates live, bi-directional links to raster drawings and estimates for streamlined, paperless digital takeoffs.
In talking about the increased use, Burnett explains, “LiveCount has taken on a much greater importance in our company’s preconstruction activities recently because of its ability to help us tell the project cost story from design through construction with greater accuracy and ease.”
Evaluating the value of the feature and functionality capabilities of LiveCount, Burnett says his team is particularly happy with the drawing layout features of the tool.
LiveCount measures takeoffs across multiple drawings so that the quantity list will show page and overall totals. Different versions of the same image can also be compared to identify where the changes have taken place. Advanced image processing allows users to rotate and scale the addendum or revision drawing and control what level of grayscale should be converted to black when converting PDFs to TIFF, making the identification of elements such as walls easier to locate in a drawing compare.
“At the fee-based stage of a project bid, LiveCount gives us the opportunity to layout the drawings as we do takeoff,” explains Burnett. “It’s also a valuable tool for our customers as they can see the basis of our price. It takes the guesswork out of bids. We can show takeoffs by layer and color. That’s been a huge benefit.”
He said his estimators are also very happy with the overlay functionality because it allows the estimators to bring two drawings together in one ASI for quick identification of design changes.
“And trending is invaluable,” emphasizes Burnett. “We trend everything so we can see what has been added and taken away. I believe we cut our time checking new drawings for changes by 50-60% compared to conventional light table methods using the overlay and trending tools."
One of the biggest business benefits of LiveCount is the reduction in paper consumption and printing costs. Burnett estimates that the company was spending $12,000-$15,000 annually in paper printing supplies.
“On every job, there is some nugget of benefit,” he concludes. “Our estimates are more accurate, more fluid with our estimating platform, which is a huge selling point, and we’re realizing a clear ROI. For sure, we’re 20-30% faster than traditional methods. We’ve realized time savings as well, though that’s a little tougher to measure. LiveCount is invaluable to our estimating and project management teams, helping us track and tell the story of a project’s progress from design through construction.”