Happy New Year.
We wish everyone much success and the best of everything in the coming year. Good Luck!
This newsletter provides insight into Vertigraph, its products and the takeoff and estimating marketplace. If you have any questions or thoughts, please contact us at 214-340-9436 (800-989-4243 US and Canada), email@example.com or thru our website at www.vertigraph.com.
The following topics are covered in this newsletter:
• Vertigraph Awards earned during the last year
• Vertigraph’s University Program
• Enhanced SiteWorx/OS version 10 now available
• Why SiteWorx/OS is the best product for GCs and excavation contractors
• Why thousands of customers are using BidScreen XL successfully
• File Types – the difference between raster and vector drawings
• The attributes of successful contractors
• What makes the Economy grow? Any why is income and wealth increasing?
• Will BIM (Building Information Modeling) make takeoffs obsolete?
• About Vertigraph’s key employees
We are pleased to announce that Vertigraph, Inc. has been named one of the winners of the 2021 Software and Technology Awards by New World Report, an insightful and informative international business news platform that recognizes the efforts of pioneers and disruptors of Modern Technology.
Additionally, we are proud that Vertigraph also won the 2021 Construction Equipment Top 100 New Products Award for its SiteWorx/OS version 10 product. The Top 100 New Products of 2021 Award program calls special attention to the most significant new products announced each year. These awards serve to emphasize innovations while highlighting manufacturers who are investing in research and development. The innovative features of SiteWorx/OS Version 10.0 resulted in the organizers naming Vertigraph’s SiteWorx/OS a Construction Equipment Top 100 New Products of 2021 Award.
Vertigraph’s University Program
Vertigraph has established its University Program where students, computer labs and faculty receive free licenses of both the BidScreen XL and SiteWorx/OS software when the software is used in the school’s curriculum.
Many Universities are using the SiteWorx/OS software to demonstrate the differences between an automated system versus the manual grid takeoff method when calculating site excavation quantities. After explaining the manual grid method, many have their students go through the project file that is installed with the SiteWorx/OS step-by-step tutorial. Students complete this asynchronous learning project in approximately one hour. By actively taking off the tutorial project, students quickly learn the substantial advantages of automating the calculation of cut and fill quantities.
BidScreen XL, our Excel add-in application, performs the quantity measurement directly in Excel with a concise audit trail. Quantity takeoff for most trades involves measuring and calculating quantities. BidScreen XL does the measuring on-screen, Excel does the calculations and organizes the takeoff. Many educators are having their students create an Excel template that makes routine the takeoff and estimating process as an assignment. The professors are finding that documenting the takeoff and estimate in Excel is the clearest, best way to teach the quantity takeoff and estimating concepts while the students receive an experiential learning experience by thinking through the process in Microsoft Excel.
Since this educational program was established less than a year ago, a growing number of schools are using our software in its coursework. These Universities currently include: Alfred State, Algonquin, Ball State, Bradley University, Central Connecticut State, Clemson, Colorado State, Conestoga College, East Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Norfolk State, Northern Kentucky, Ohio Northern, Oklahoma State, Texas Southern,Texas State, Tuskegee, University of Central Missouri, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, North Texas, University of Texas-Tyler, University of Utah, Vermont Technical College and Weber State. If you are affiliated with a Construction Management educational institution, please contact us to discuss our no-charge education program.
Enhanced SiteWorx/OS Version 10 is available
During the year, a new version 10 of SiteWorx/OS was released. This latest release continues to enhance the SiteWorx/OS product; which, when initially released in 2007, was the first on-screen takeoff software for site excavation. With ten significant version enhancements over the years, the software continues to improve and exceed expectations. Based on requests received from customers, the following features have been added to Version 10:
• Rock report visually shows the location and depth of rock cut over the entire site.
• Improvements in the editing and copying of boundaries, areas and contour lines.
• Trench report that contains pipe volumes, bedding materials, cut volumes, rock cut volumes and backfill can now be saved as an Excel workbook.
• Ability to save the calculated results as an Excel file.
• User defined cross sections can be placed anywhere on the site.
SiteWorx/OS is ideal for site excavation contractors that are seeking an easy, affordable program and General Contractors seeking to verify cut and fill volumes.
If interested in our SiteWorx/OS takeoff software, please visit www.vertigraph.com. Here you can install free evaluation software. A tutorial document is installed with the software that will walk you thru the takeoff of the installed drawing file from start to finish.
Click here to download a 14 day evaluation of SiteWorxOS Version 10 Now
There are many software choices available when automating the takeoff of site excavation quantities. We encourage everybody to compare and evaluate the costs and benefits of each product. We highly recommend that you compare SiteWorx/OS to all of the other solutions available: Agtek, Trimble Business Center, Carlson, In-Site, Trakware and Roctek. Not only should you compare initial costs but please consider the cost of training, support and software updates. Are these programs easy to learn and easy to use? And do they contain the features that you require? We are confident that once you compare, you’ll know that Vertigraph’s SiteWorx/OS product is the best product with the features you need at any price. Many of our customers that have used Agtek claim that are program is easier to use, does everything that Agtek does at a fraction of the cost. We understand that Agtek currently costs over $20,000 for a single license. Currently SiteWorx/OS costs $850 a year which includes training and support when the software is leased or an initial cost of $1,950 when the license is purchased.
Why thousands of customers are using BidScreen XL successfully
Vertigraph’s BidScreen XL software is the best software for GCs and subcontractors (engaged in the older CSI Divisions 3 thru 9) that are seeking an easy, affordable tool that documents the takeoff directly in Microsoft Excel. Many estimators record their takeoff in Excel for two reasons: 1) organize the takeoff logically and 2) Use Excel formulas to calculate the quantities from the on-screen measurements. With BidScreen XL there is no need to flip flop back and forth between Excel and a different takeoff program. As an Excel add-in application, the on-screen measuring, audit trail, organization of the takeoff and formulas used to calculate quantities and estimated cost are all done in any Excel workbook. Most users start with an Excel takeoff template and simply measure into the applicable cells. Use your own Excel workbooks or customize any of the Excel takeoff and estimating templates provided with the software. Additionally, BidScreen XL works with the leading raster and vector drawings including PDF, TIFF and AutoCAD DWG. With vector files, easily isolate design layers and snap to the object to obtain exact measurements each and every time. BidScreen XL is also affordable. Lease the software with support, training and software updates for $400 per license per year. Or purchase the license with one year of support, updates and training for a one-time cost of $750. Please visit www.vertigraph.com for further information.
Click here to download BidScreenXL Version 9 Now
Files Types – the difference between raster and vector drawings
Nowadays, construction drawings are provided to the contractor initially as a file that can be emailed or downloaded from a website. The distribution of paper blueprints is dated and obsolete. There are many different file formats generated as construction plans. These files will be either a raster or vector type drawings. Although somewhat technical, understanding raster and vector file types is important. How the takeoff is accomplished, and the options available, are governed by the file type.
A raster drawing is similar to an image printed on paper which is comprised of very small ink dots. A raster drawing displays the construction drawing as an image comprised of a rectangular grid of very small rectangular cells called pixels, or points of color. The plan image is built up from these pixels. The smaller the pixel cells and the increased quantity of pixels results in better image quality (higher resolution). Raster images are files with the following file extensions: TIFF, JPG, PNG, CMP, BMP and many PDFs. Digital photos are always raster type files. When measuring lines and areas from raster files, the user clicks on the tiny pixel cell on the screen and the takeoff software connects the pixel to the previous pixel to measure the desired item. The measurement value generated from raster files is rarely 100% accurate. The amount of error depends on the drawing resolution and scale. All takeoff programs available today read most raster file formats. Some applications struggle will certain PDF files however and may require the user to convert the PDF file to a different type of raster file such as a TIFF file. Vertigraph’s quantity takeoff software works with all raster type files and does not require PDF file conversions.
A vector graphic image is very different than a raster image. Vector drawings contain much more information than the color-coded pixels found in a raster file. A vector graphic uses points to create geometric objects such as points, lines, curves and polygons that are based on mathematical expressions. A vector drawing contains geometric objects at certain locations. These geometric objects are organized in layers. Vector files contain layers and are computer aided design files with the following extensions: AutoCAD DWG, DWF, DXF, DGN and others. All computer aided design programs create vector type files. If the PDF file is created from AutoCAD or another CAD program, the PDF file will be a vector type PDF file and the layers and objects will be maintained from the CAD file.
When working with vector files with layers, the higher-end quantity takeoff programs, such as Vertigraph’s, will easily isolate the design layer and hide all irrelevant information. Additionally, the objects in vector images are taken off by snapping to the entity point or selecting the entire entity/object with a single click to obtain exact measurements. Vector files provide increased speed, accuracy and ease of use. All construction design files are created by the designer as a vector file. Often, these CAD, vector files are distributed to the contractor as raster files however. If possible, use the vector, rather than the raster files if the vector files such as AutoCAD DWG or vector PDF, are available and your takeoff software works with vector files.
PDF files are listed above as both a raster and vector file format. PDF files contain both pixel and vector data and certain PDF files are highly complex. Some PDF files contain layers and design objects that were created from CAD programs such as AutoCAD. PDF files that contain layers are known as “vector type PDF files”. When working with vector type PDF files with Vertigraph’s takeoff software, you’re able to isolate the PDF layers and select the entity/object for quick, exact and easy takeoff in a manner similar to AutoCAD DWG files. Other PDF files, such as PDF files created from scanned images, will not contain layers and are considered “raster type PDF files”. Raster type PDF files are files that are similar to the other raster file types noted above where the takeoff professional will click on pixels on the screen to perform the takeoff. In summary, PDF files may be either a raster or vector type file and the type depends how the PDF file was created; was it created by the AutoCAD? or was the paper blueprint scanned and saved as a PDF file?
To recap, PDF files that contain layers are known as vector type PDF files. PDF files without layers are raster type PDF files. Computer Aided Design (CAD) files are always vector files. Scanned images and digital photos are always raster type files. When your takeoff software supports vector files, you’re able to isolate the design layer and snap to the objects to obtain exact measurements. Raster files require a scale setting and the user will attempt to click on the proper tiny pixel on the screen. Measurements are not exact when working with raster type files. In summary, the takeoff measurements will be easier and exact when working with vector files in comparison to raster type files. As a result, request vector type files if possible.
The attributes of Successful Contractors
A lot of contractors come and go. What traits deliver long-term success? First, an owner can’t do it all. Hiring quality people makes the job easier. When starting out, we have found that successful contractors are strong on the inside and outside. The inside person handles the estimating, IT, accounting and business development. The outside person is the project manager that handles the people in the field. To be successful, you’ll need competent people on both the inside and outside. One person can’t do it all.
The other key to long-term success, has to do with financial management. We have found that owners that manage their finances conservatively are able to survive over the long term. The financial needs of the owner often determine the success of the business. When times are good, some owners may live high on the hog. They may buy new houses and toys. But when there is an industry downturn, they often struggle to cut back. Whenever the owner requires a lot of cash flow from the business, these funds required by the owner are not available for investing in the business or covering cash shortfalls. How much financial resources the owner and principals require often decides the long-term viability. We have found that living within your means and managing the business and your personal finances conservatively leads to long term success.
What Makes the Economy Grow? And why is income and wealth increasing?
The answer is productivity. We are simply more productive today. An hour of work today creates much more value and output than an hour of work years ago. Although inflation and the growth of the number of people working increases GDP, it is productivity improvements that cause the economy to grow in real terms. In fact, we are seven times more productive today, resulting in greatly enhanced real earnings, than we were a century ago.
Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, attributes three items to this growth in productivity during the last century. First, electricity made us more productive. Instead of hand tools we now use power tools. Secondly, improvements in our transportation system and the internal combustion engine let us move our goods over greater distances more efficiently and to modify our environment more easily with industrial equipment such as trucks, earthmoving excavators and chain saws. And lastly, information technology enables us to gain productivity in any business process. Greenspan has stated that information technology is the most far reaching of the three items driving productivity and increased income because IT can be applied to virtually any business process. Whereas productivity gains from engines and electricity are ideal for far fewer activities. Every industry and business process gains by the effective implementation of information technology.
What does this mean for you?
To increase your earnings, search for productivity improvements in all your business processes. Automating certain business activities, such as takeoff and estimating, through information technology is one activity to find productivity improvements. And, please remember, not all information technology is created equally. Always perform a cost/benefit analysis. What is the projected return on investment? What are the costs? And what are the benefits? Consider all the costs, besides licensing costs, such as the costs to implement, train, maintain, service and manage.
At Vertigraph we’re confident that the implementation of our takeoff and estimating solutions will generate the highest return on investment with the greatest productivity improvements. That is our unending mission, and we only ask that you compare.
Will BIM (Building Information Modeling) make takeoffs obsolete?
In a perfect world, quantities will be automatically provided to the contractors directly from the BIM file. When a project is designed, this information should be readily available. Why does the GC and subs need to develop a list of quantities from the plans since this information is already available in the model?
The reasons why the designer is not automatically providing the quantities from BIM to the contractors is because:
1. Involves change and more work for the designer. Historically it was the contractor’s job to obtain quantities not the designer’s. The architect often does not perform the work required to obtain the quantities from the BIM file.
2. More work and expertise required. The designer must ensure that accurate and correct quantities are properly identified with the design objects. Often, many firms want to do as little as possible to earn their keep.
3. Risk and liability. If the designer/architect provides the quantities, will it have increased liability and risk due to errors and omissions? Who is responsible for mistakes? Why should the architect have increased risk because it invested in BIM? The shifting of risk and liability may be the biggest reason why designers are not providing quantities to the contractor from the Building Information Model.
We envision that BIM is ideal for quantity takeoff but it will require change in the architect/designer and contractor relationship. In the future, due to the increased risk and liability, how infrastructure projects are delivered to the owner will change as a result of BIM. Our prediction is that in the future, the contractor and designer will become the same legal entity. Master builders, also known as design builders, will perform the design and general construction and will be the legal entity that delivers the project to the owner. There will be no finger pointing regarding errors, omissions and liability between the general contractor and the architect/designer under this design build structure. In the future, the need for quantity takeoff will be greatly reduced or eliminated as a result of the liability being assigned to one party. The only question is when this change will occur. Stay tuned.
About Vertigraph’s key employees
Vertigraph is comprised of individuals dedicated to supplying takeoff and estimating solutions to the construction industry. Our software is built with craftsmanship. Leading this development effort for Vertigraph is Ken Baily, our M.I.T. educated lead developer has been with us since 1993. Before joining Vertigraph, Ken achieved noted accomplishments in research, development and engineering as VP Engineering for a prominent, publicly listed high technology company. In our view, Ken is the best developer in the industry by far and was the first to deliver the leading technologies used widely in the industry today. Ken was the first to develop: on-screen takeoff for site excavation, digitized takeoff in Excel, on-screen measuring in Excel, recording exact vector file measurements files directly in Excel, combining takeoff spreadsheets with a relational database for a complete solution and many other takeoff and estimating software firsts. Many of our competitors have tried to duplicate Ken’s designs. In summary, Vertigraph’s software is the best in the industry because of Ken’s craftsmanship and insight.
Next, Kim Border our general manager has been with us for twenty years and heads up the administration, customer service and accounting functions. Prior to joining Vertigraph, Kim had project management experience with a large Dallas based general contractor. Kim is often the first to answer the phone and she will do whatever it takes to make sure the customer and business are more than satisfied. If you have any questions whatsoever, please contact Kim.
Lastly, Erich Schoenkopf, founded Vertigraph in 1991 and has been involved in creating the business and developing its strategy. Erich, a CPA, graduated from Penn State with distinction where he was recruited by Deloitte to work in its Dallas office. Erich was subsequently employed as the CFO of a London Stock Exchange listed oil and gas developer and, as the CFO of a public company engaged in computer and telecommunications development worldwide. Based on his experience in developing entrepreneurial, public, multinational technology driven companies, Erich was well prepared to start and manage Vertigraph since inception.
In closing, we again wish everybody good health, good fortune and the best of everything in the years ahead.
800-989-4243 (US & Canada)