HERE'S A SMART software solution that uses a company's accumulated knowledge to help quickly produce design/build budgeting estimates for clients.
Suitable for large plumbing and HVAC contractors with annual sales of more than $100 million, Eos Advisor (Eos Group, www.eosgroup.com, 805/898-1850) is a Web-based budget estimating system that enables users to mine the "published" estimating history and actual or as-built cost history of past projects to ballpark up-to-date feasibility estimates for prospective projects. It enables quick response to new business opportunities with defensible data based on a company's previous comparable jobs.
Eos Advisor is a tool for salespeople and management who would benefit from easy access to historical prices during a sales call or a design meeting when what-if cost questions on various equipment and design options arise. For example, a salesperson looking to approximate the cost of a certain type of pump package or a particular type of chiller can find that item across project histories and, leveraging that information, determine approximate price of that item based on that history and taking into consideration various cost-affecting factors.
The solution, which allows users to identify facility or project types with their unique characteristics, employs an empirical approach to identify all similar data and compile accurate estimates from previous comparable jobs. Built-in factors support time, place and size adjustments to escalate target budgets based on averages of past projects.
The program can compare budgets and/or cost elements.
To create the historical database, the program imports past cost estimates from Excel and Sage Timberline directly as well indirectly from estimating and cost-management systems that have the ability to export to Excel.
Advisor can capture estimating and cost data down to the detail item level, including category costs and resource information. For each new project, the user can utilize existing indexes from a pricing service such as R.S. Means or its own indexes to update costs so they are equivalent for comparison. The solution can add an unlimited number of user-defined attributes to projects for use in classifying and retrieving them.
The solution installs on company servers and is available only to approved end-users in any office or out in the field.
Estimation's Logistics HVAC Estimating Software (www.estimation.com, 800/275-6475) enables users to create detailed, accurate and professional estimates quickly and easily. It features direct connections to e-catalogs and other Web-based tools that can provide accurate price and product availability from customizable lists of suppliers instantly so the bid matches real-time pricing as closely as possible.
The program, which features round and oval fabrication and multi-level breakouts, works with several different takeoff devices to input sizes and quantities into the Estimation system. Compatible take-off devices include the Power Pad (tablet) and various electronic digitizers. The Power Pad combines with an electronic digitizer to create a heads-down approach to takeoff, allowing the contractor to concentrate on the plans rather than the monitor, providing a fast way to strip blueprint measurements, Estimation explains.
Estimation also gives the flexibility to integrate the system with accounting, purchasing and time-and-material billing software for expanded control of projects.
Targeting mechanical and plumbing contractors, Estimation's similar Mechanical Estimating Software and Plumbing Estimating Software features multi-level breakouts, customizable database, preset assemblies and specification-driven capabilities.
Three productivity-enhancing addons to either solution are available from the developer:
- EZ-Pricer facilitates accurate pricing by e-mail. It takes the quantity take-offs and creates requests for pricing and e-mails them to a customized list of suppliers, who need only fill in the prices next to each item. When the supplier e-mails back the list, EZ-Pricer automatically updates the information in the system.
- SKETCH is a drawing plug-in program that works within the Takeoff view and provides a graphic image of the points input with a digitizer. It keeps track, electronically, of the items taken off the blueprint, providing a visual audit trail that displays digitized, measured lines and counted symbols. In effect a visual audit trail, SKETCH lets users know where to resume if the takeoff process is interrupted.
- The optional CAD Link provides an automated means of takeoff. Linking either software solution with East Coast (Sheet Metal 3D CAD) and with AEC Design Group (CADPIPE Commercial and CADPIPE HVAC), CAD Link produces complete Bill of Materials Reports of items captured from the Mechanical & Plumbing and HVAC estimating software. For Mechanical & Plumbing, the report includes every pipe, valve and fitting as well as material type, schedule, connection type and specifications for each item. For HVAC, the report includes every straight, fitting and all accessory items, along with default length, cut length and fitting reports.
Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected]