Computer Software and software-related products help contractors solve problems and streamline operations, increasing productivity and accuracy. This article details a selection of software solutions. Of course, this is just a small sample of the many different software options available to electrical
> ACCUBID > Accubid recently released Version 4 of Enterprise Estimating Pro for structured cabling contractors. The robust, spec-driven Version 4 of Accubid Enterprise consists of multiple modules, including Enterprise Estimating, Enterprise Manager, Enterprise Report Center and Enterprise Price Update. Accubid Enterprise includes a number of enhancements that extend the system’s power and flexibility, including a comprehensive material database of all the major, current and industry-leading manufacturers. Using Version 4, you can create an assembly—a group of related items that you take off as a single entity—assign a graphic image to an item or assembly and view it during takeoff. It supports LiveCount, Accubid’s new on-screen takeoff tool, for contractors with access to PDF, TIFF or JPG drawing formats rather than native CAD files. Structured cabling contractors will be able to perform a takeoff substantially faster with the extensive database that ships with the Enterprise Estimating software, and electrical contractors that do structured cabling work can use the depth, flexibility and logical approach that was built into Enterprise Estimating.
> ACES PRO > ACES Pro Electrical Estimating Software is the first professional grade multiuser electrical estimating software sold on a subscription basis. Instead of spending thousands of dollars per user and an annual key fee for support and updates, subscribe to ACES Pro for $49.95 per month per user. There are no large upfront payments. You can pay for the users you currently need, and everything is included. The subscription includes both competitive and change-order estimating, all software updates, unlimited support, and unlimited online training Webinars. Subscription-based billing, along with a downloadable 30-day free trial, allows customers to download the software from the Web site and be estimating a project in about 15 minutes.
> Cert-in Software Systems Inc. > Cert-In Software Systems Inc., a company with more than 20 years of experience, develops the WinTRF Family of products, including estimating, time and material billing, certified invoice management and purchase-order generator. The Estimating Systems incorporate the easy-to-use, customizable template takeoff system and the menu-driven drill-down standard takeoff system for detailed estimates. Included with the systems are powerful interfaces for on-screen takeoff, accounting, spreadsheet, document management, digitizer, Scalex, NetPricer and Supplier Xchange. The work-order-based time and material system provides the user with the capabilities to create different markup profiles by customer, job or invoice and prepare invoices using standard or custom-created invoice forms.
> Conest Software Systems > JobTrac Version 4, is a project management software solution that is part of ConEst’s PowerSuite of estimating and project management software. The JobTrac system provides construction project managers with the tools for efficiency in managing day-to-day project operations, from tracking project submittals, change orders and material purchase orders, to scheduling labor and project payment applications. Transmittals, e-mails, phone conversations, daily work reports, time cards and even incident reports are all logged within the project. Material requisitions and purchase orders can be managed by task. A built-in Gantt chart establishes start/finish dates and assigns dependencies and constraints for all the project tasks. During the project, JobTrac will track and compare the budgeted estimate costs versus actual costs. For billing, JobTrac will produce a schedule of values that are used for payment application. The schedule automatically generates a payment application based on the current progress percentage. Customers also can use the free ConEst FTP site to transmit submittals and large files.
> Dexter + Chaney > Dexter + Chaney has significantly enhanced the service management capabilities in its Spectrum Construction Software. The company has updated the Work Order and Service Contract modules to provide electrical contractors with more flexible, fully integrated construction management and service management systems in a single package. The enhancements are included in Spectrum’s recently launched Version 13. Dexter + Chaney has enhanced Spectrum’s overall flexibility with the goal of combining a powerful service management system with an equally powerful construction management system. Spectrum works the way electrical contractors do, starting from the moment a customer calls with a service request, through dispatch and scheduling, performance of the work, costing, billing, payment, and warranty. The integrated system helps the contractor keep a close eye on profitability. With the enhanced Work Order module, each work order for an individual customer tracks actual material and labor costs. A work order may be billed more than once—a critical feature for service calls that can last months. Any work order can remain open to track all related expenses and can be billed as often and as many times as necessary. The Service Contract module allows the electrical contractor to bill a service contract on any schedule. The revenue for that contract can be deferred and recognized as needed.
> Dolphins Software > Dolphins Volt’s Electrical Design Software produces accurate results; contains 100 percent of all computing requirements, tables and specifications in the National Electrical Code (NEC); uses IEEE, ANSI, NEC, IEC and NOM standards and formulae; offers an easy graphical user interface; and produces 30-plus customizable reports, all compliant to industry standards. Reports are printable and exportable to CAD, PDF, Microsoft Excel, BMP or CSV for database interfacing. There is no annual maintenance or support fees. Design and analyze electrical distribution systems by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks, with virtually unlimited bus entries and handling voltages up to 35,000; AC or DC; raceway, cable tray, wireway, junction and device box and conduit body fills; phase-load balancing with unbalanced neutral current computation; and more.
> Dynamic Systems Inc. > Dynamic Systems Inc. (DSI), specializing in data collection applications for the construction industry, has released a low-cost tool manager program based on bar code technology, Basic Tool Manager. In business since 1981, DSI provides bar code systems to the construction industry, including a tool management system, a maintenance scheduler, inventory control, time and attendance, and job costing. Bar code data collection has been proven to be the most accurate and efficient method of tracking or counting tools and equipment. Basic Tool Manager is targeted for contractors who want to reduce the loss of tools and save time tracking down tools for the jobs but cannot afford the more complex systems available on the market. If checking a tool out or in requires one minute and if your staff spends even 20 minutes a day searching for tools, the overhead savings is dramatic. Loss and theft of tools is a major overhead cost (estimated at more than $1 billion a year) for the construction and manufacturing industry. DSI customers see a typical payback for the Basic Tool Manager within three to four months.
> eSub > eSUB’s flagship product, TRACKpoint, provides subcontractors with an application that helps them simplify their work and document their projects without interrupting workflow. TRACKpoint helps contractors increase productivity and profits through better workflow; access real-time information and remote projects from any location; create a green project by going paperless with a digital data repository; issue and update crucial project documentation, such as daily reports, change orders, RFIs, purchase orders and pay applications in minutes; and safely store all project documents including photos, drawings and PDFs. With TRACKpoint, the subcontractor is proactive in initiating project documentation with the general contractor. The online project management system is built specifically to track changes and documents throughout the project in order for general contractors and subcontractors to have the most up-to-date information on file. General contractors can better coordinate projects by having constant communication with subcontractors to manage what is actually happening on the field. Contractors face the challenge of managing countless documents throughout the project. With TRACKpoint, subcontractors will not have to worry about misplacing their documents because they are stored in a virtual database and can be retrieved within seconds. As general contractors continue to adopt online project management tools, they need their subcontractors to adopt the same best practices in order to ensure productive workflow for the entire team.
> Foundation Construction Payroll Service > Foundation Construction Payroll Service (FCPS), a company that offers payroll processing, tax filing and construction-reporting services to the construction industry, has recently expanded its market to contractors on a national level. FCPS is a sister company of Foundation Software, developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software. Through a secure online system, contractors can log on, submit their payroll data and select from a variety of construction-specific reports and service options. Additionally, FCPS has a staff of construction specialists who keep current on employee-related tax laws and handle all of their construction clients’ federal, state and local tax deposits—no matter how many states and localities are involved. FCPS manages tax deadlines (weekly, quarterly and annually) and assumes all responsibilities and liabilities for meeting filing requirements.
> IGE+XAO Group > IGE+XAO Group is launching its SEE Electrical software in the United States. Intended for small and medium enterprises, SEE Electrical meets all user requirements among those who design and maintain the electrical part of any kind of installation. SEE Electrical software comes in three versions: basic, standard and advanced. The basic level is suitable to all industries and provides a large number of basic CAD functionalities for $1,190. The standard level features several functionalities that help create and manage electrical diagrams with optimal productivity. Last, the advanced level includes functionalities (PLC input/output management, automatic plan generation, etc.) that facilitate complex project management. Two trade-specific modules, cabinet layout and house installation, complete the software suite. Cabinet layout helps design electrical cabinets, while house installation supports the layout of electrical equipment on floor plans. SEE Electrical has enjoyed commercial success for several years in a large number of countries.
> Jonas Software > Jonas eRouting is a live mapping tool that lets service contractors track the location of their technicians, trucks and work orders in real time. eRouting uses Google Maps technology to display the location of work orders. It can also be integrated with a GPS tracking system to display the location of company vehicles. eRouting allows dispatchers to identify the closest qualified technician or service vehicle to any given work order, thereby increasing efficiency (saving time and money) by assigning new work orders to technicians in the vicinity and allowing more work orders to be completed throughout the day. It also supports user-defined colored electronic push-pins to designate work order status for quick assessment of workload and supports a user-defined work order list, popup and tip. Users can filter results to only display works orders assigned to them and the software supports a user-based security access, which restricts unauthorized users from accessing details not pertinent to their duties. With eRouting, you can select the closest qualified technician to the job by plotting positions on a map. With the map in view, you can click on a work order to see its location. You can also click on a truck to find its location and view what work is being performed at that site.
> Maxwell Systems > With the Maxwell Systems’ estimating touch screen monitor, contractors can work with more speed, efficiency and accuracy. By directly touching the screen using the interactive pen, users get precise measurements for accurate estimates. Plus, contractors can also adjust the monitor to mimic a comfortable drafting table position. The new estimating touch screen monitor is a great tool to use with Maxwell Systems Estimation Digital Takeoff, which is on-screen takeoff software tailored for electrical contractors. Estimators avoid the hassle and cost of paper blueprints and use the software to generate takeoffs from digital plan files. This is a fast, accurate method that streamlines the takeoff and estimating process so contractors can bid more jobs with greater profitability. Maxwell Systems also makes estimating software. Estimators are given a complete estimating toolset that begins with digitized or digital takeoff capabilities. Not only are takeoffs accurate to within 1/1000 inch, but on-target estimates and professional proposals are seamlessly generated.
> McCormick Systems > McCormick Systems’ On Screen Takeoff v3.5 streamlines your takeoff process by completing your measurements and calculations as you mark up your drawings, allowing you to generate faster, more accurate takeoffs. With this software, you can view color-coded drawings to identify conditions and their quantities; takeoff the typical area one time, and by design, extend the quantities to all the appropriate individual areas with the typical areas feature; complete your takeoff and make area assignments or phase adjustments after you are done without retaking off the project; and save multiple hours of exhausting plan review with the overlay feature. When comparing two versions of a drawing, deleted items are in red and added items are in blue. You also can eliminate manually summarizing a takeoff; open details, sections and elevation with the secondary view and see a floor plan simultaneously; use the layers feature when completing a takeoff of multiple divisions of work to visibly turn conditions on or off the plan image while concentrating on certain scopes of work; and increase communication efficiency by copying and pasting plans with takeoff, notes and annotations to submit as an RFI.
> Sage North America > Sage Project Lifecycle Management is a Web-based collaborative project management service platform that simplifies an organization’s workflow by making all project-related information and documentation available online in a secure, centralized location. Sage Project Lifecycle Management is Web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) that supports seamless communication with customers and vendors throughout the supply chain. It allows users to easily customize a project based on a company’s needs and allows for quick implementation without additional hardware requirements. Sage Project Lifecycle Management helps construction project teams increase productivity through 24/7 online workspace that is project-centric, secure, simple-to-use, cost-effective, scalable, and reduces risk. It offers improved project team collaboration enabling teams in multiple locations to collaborate online, real time, across the building design, construction and occupancy phases; reduced project costs with online document management and visual drawing that significantly reduces printing, reproduction, distribution, storage and retrieval costs associated with the many drawings and documents produced during typical projects; and improved internal security with a full audit trail ensuring all user transactions are time and date stamped, retaining a full record of who changed what and when. All data is hosted on secure servers, monitored 24/7, with regular system and data backups to ensure constant availability of the latest data. The product also provides improved asset management through the ability to view the entire history of a built asset and integrated communication with Microsoft Office Outlook including a Sage PLM launch point within Outlook, which can link directly to project folders.
> Simutech Multimedia > Simutech Multimedia, a leader in simulation-based electrical troubleshooting training software, offers Version 4 of its Troubleshooting Skills Series software. The updated titles in the Troubleshooting Skills Series V4 include Troubleshooting Electrical Circuits, Troubleshooting Control Circuits, and Troubleshooting Motor Circuits. Each title in the series now includes in-depth instructional content modules that teach specific troubleshooting skills and strategies. These content modules contain much more information and feature new videos that demonstrate specific concepts and techniques and offer improved simulation environments with more realistic simulation behavior. Users now have the ability to remove multiple wires, trace wire paths, and inspect components in the circuit for defects. The enhanced simulations also offer more accurate component behavior, such as realistic behavior under fault conditions, accurate transformer regulation, and accurate motor voltages and currents under varying load. The new programs are also equipped with a powerful evaluation system that offers more thorough scoring and makes this version of the software a much more valuable training tool.
> Singletouch Corp. > Singletouch offers a comprehensive data-capture platform for electrical contractors working in industrial construction that enables real-time input of information in the field—one time, easily and accurately. Details collected in the field are instantly accessible at head office and seamlessly integrated into backend systems, expediting payroll, accounting and project reporting processes and eliminating the paperwork headaches that plague the contractor industry. Singletouch’s technology consists of three components: a Windows platform called Singletouch Office; a Web-based user interface called Singletouch Jobsite; and a mobile, handheld data-capture solution known as Singletouch Mobile. Once data has been entered, project managers and office administrators can use the data for invoicing and reporting, even before the team has returned from the site. Accurate details are entered in the system only once, at the time and point where the transaction occurs, and delivered instantaneously to all stakeholders, eliminating the logjams and errors traditionally associated with the filing of paperwork and subsequent re-entering of details to create invoices and reports. Users are also able to generate custom reports using the project control module. This module allows organizations to control costs, assess percentage completion of jobs, update clients with accurate data in real-time, and report job performance in the field. The newest functionality added to the platform is the labor monitor report. By combining budget data, actual data (e.g., time tickets) and the field survey, the labor monitor report assists a project manager in managing work force efficiency and productivity in the field. The field survey, typically conducted either daily or weekly, allows the project manager to capture exactly which items have been installed on-site and, through a simple calculation, determines the percentage completed for that item. Within the labor monitor report, cost codes for the project, each of which will have a materials, services, labor, subsistence and direct job expenses budget amount associated with it, are documented and useful statistics determined against each code.
> Trade Service > Trade Service takes its TRA-SER electronic product and pricing catalog to the Internet with TRA-SER SX. Critical business information resides online, eliminating the need to load software or store large amounts of data on a PC. TRA-SER SX delivers instantaneous access to more than 2 million electrical items from more than 650 manufacturers. With a simple Internet connection, this comprehensive content resource is within reach and stays up-to-date with the latest manufacturer changes. TRA-SER SX works with most of the industry’s estimating and accounting software, allowing for seamless integration. In addition to product and pricing data, TRA-SER SX also offers productivity tools such as formulas, calculators, codes, and standards; daily copper pricing; timely industry news; manufacturer new product announcements; access to the National Electrical Contractors Association labor rates; and e-learning opportunities. A prominent new feature of TRA-SER SX is Supplier Xchange, a tool that speeds the bidding process by connecting the contractor to personalized pricing from their preferred suppliers. The contractor electronically sends a list of items to their supplier from TRA-SER or their estimating software. This list is instantly matched to their supplier’s pricing file and within seconds, the list is returned with the unique, contractor-specific pricing, ready to apply within the bid or estimating program.
> Trimble Quickpen > Designed specifically for the construction contractor, the Trimble Digital Pen Solutions use a dockable digital pen to combine the simplicity of working with pen and paper with easy conversion to digital data that can be readily shared with project teams and detailers. Ideal for project managers, foremen, safety inspectors, crew chiefs, detailers and construction managers, the Trimble Digital Pen Solutions allow project team members to simultaneously collect form and markup data using individual pens and print outs. Digital notes, sketches, data and markups can be aggregated into the original file, tracking data by user, pen and time. The digitized data can be pasted into e-mails or stored on centralized networks to consolidate and share information among teams. With immediate access to job site data, teams can keep projects on-track and minimize risks from poor documentation without the costs and delays of scanning and transcribing data from paper. The Trimble Digital Pen Solutions leverage the Capturx technology, which automates paper-based data collection. The Trimble family of Digital Pen Solutions for the contractor includes Trimble DPS200 Forms for Microsoft Office Excel, where users can create forms in Microsoft Excel, such as site inspection punch lists or percentage-of-completion reports, and print them on ordinary paper. The handwritten data is immediately digitized and formatted back into the original Microsoft Excel fields for automated reporting and issue tracking. Also included is the Trimble DPS200 Markup for PDF, where users can print digitally enabled designs, such as CAD documents and blueprints, on normal paper in small or large formats. Printed designs and as-builts can be marked up and redlined in the field with a digital pen, which digitizes and uploads the data into the original Adobe PDF files. Finally, it includes Trimble DPS100 for Microsoft Office OneNote, where users can automatically digitize handwritten notes and sketches captured in the all-weather notebook for easy sharing, storing and searching through Microsoft Office OneNote.
> Wenn Soft > WennSoft, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, has released Version 10.0 EX, which offers a variety of enhancements to the software’s functionality. The upgrade will provide WennSoft customers with additional functionality designed to streamline their operations and enable them to become more effective. Version 10.0 EX delivers new features and improvements to Version 10.0, which was released in September 2007. Version 10.0 EX is aimed specifically at developing functionality that will improve organizational processes. Version 10.0 EX includes features and enhancements for each of the four core software solutions: Job Cost, Project Management Portal, Service Management Series and Equipment Management Series. WennSoft provides innovative business management solutions for public and private sector organizations focused on project management, construction, field service and equipment/fleet management. Core products integrate with Microsoft Dynamics to satisfy the needs of organizations in a variety of industries.