The business of Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) contractors is one of numerous details where every aspect of a job is unique. The success of a project is often determined even before a company is awarded the work starting with a highly accurate bid built on the precision and timeliness of a company’s takeoff and estimation process.
Years ago, the core of these trades focused on running conduit, pipe and duct to support basic building systems, but now the industry has become more complex. To enhance productivity, reduce waste and increase profits, MEP contractors invest in modern technology and equipment such as battery-powered cable feeders. Getting rid of manual processes continues to be of utmost importance especially in the takeoff and estimating process, not just in the elimination of laborious tasks (such as feeding cable).
Estimators spend too many hours carefully combing through numerous printed plans to tabulate product counts such as the lineal feet of pipe, conduit, and duct; counts of fittings, switches, and faucets; the specifics on branch takeoffs, trenching, and fixtures; and the amount of estimated waste. It takes significant time and skill to determine the material values due to unique conditions and systems requirements, as well as odd shapes where it’s challenging to measure precise values. With manual processes, the estimator must sift through marked-up plans and prior estimates to work up a change or develop an alternative and incorporate it into the overall project budget and bid.
Through digital takeoff and estimating software, there is a more accurate and efficient way for MEP contractors to effectively double their estimating productivity. Now, the estimator applies conditions such as duct work, fire suppression system, branch conduit and lighting, duplex or quad receptacles to digital plans. From start to finish, a knowledgeable estimator who is proficient with these automated tools develops a more precise, detailed bid in much less time compared to manual methods.
Digital takeoff and estimating applications are worth the invest first by increasing the number of jobs a company bids to win more work; second by eliminating the need to print, handle and store bulky paper-based plans and other documents; and third by easing the estimator’s analysis of the building and grouping objects into appropriate assemblies for streamlined installation.