In short, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’! To this day, some of the world’s largest engineering consulting firms and construction companies still rely on handwritten field notebooks and Microsoft Excel to manage billion dollar contracts. This illustrates a much larger gap in data flow between design and contract administration.
The Builterra platform bridges that gap with the only solution of its kind that standardizes, streamlines and connects the entire contract administration workflow including cost estimating, bid preparation, field inspection and payment.
We have built the ‘digital pathway’ for construction contract administration and we’re attracting a steady flow of travelers along our journey including field inspectors, project managers, engineers, contractors and owners. If you’re looking for a solution that changes the way infrastructure projects are delivered, please read on.
Just four years ago, my partner Chris and I both worked at a 300-person civil engineering firm. I spent most of my career in land development and linear municipal engineering design while Chris managed technical innovations in sewer flow and rain gauge monitoring while developing GIS based analysis software. While some parts of the company were very innovative and adopted the concepts of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), others struggled and stagnated as they continued to rely on Microsoft Excel as the antiquated solution for construction contract administration.
It was that frustrating reality that drove us to to look at this part of the overall project delivery process. The result? The beginnings of a new technology company and the January 2015 launch of the cloud-based Builterra platform, comprised of a Web portal and mobile field inspection app.
Eliminating Excel, one workflow at a time
Preparing Tender or Bid Sheets
Processing and Analyzing Bids
The Bidders only get the exported Excel as part of the Bid Package. They add their unit pricing to the Excel spreadsheet and are happy to see that it’s standardized and organized. Once they email or submit the spreadsheet back to the engineer or owner, those same unit prices are now captured for instant cost estimating on future projects! The bids are compared in minutes with highs and lows, at every level of the tender sections and items hierarchy (section groups, section table, item).
Cost Estimating using Smart Tender Data
Our bidding system was built with GIS in mind, cost estimators can compare pricing based on any attribute combination. For example, users can get an accurate cost estimate of a structure built 4m +- 0.5m deep, with exact dimensions and material match, within 100 km of the current project, built after 2014 by ABC Construction. Gone are the days of compiling and consolidating dated Excel spreadsheets for the purposes of unit price estimating. In fact, while the engineer is actually building the tender or bid sheet, cost estimates are being performed in real-time against previously submitted bidder's data.
Connecting AutoCAD Civil 3D to Mobile Inspection
Mobile inspection forms are easily configurable and accessible via smart phones or tablets. The app allows for simple photo reports with only a few attributes, or complex daily reports with multiple tables (Labour, Equipment, Materials, Visitors Onsite, Comments, Photos, etc.)
It's the only mobile inspection app on the market featuring geo-location with direct access to uploaded Civil 3D alignments in order to automatically assign Name, Station and Offset to the inspected data point. The mobile app successfully captures field inspection data with Lat-Long and uses the Builterra extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D to import directly into the CAD environment. Using the web portal, captured mobile form data can be "merged" with actual survey file coordinates. The resulting mobile form data is considered survey grade accurate and ready for engineering workflows like plan view import and profile view projection. The sample shown below shows the import of hydrovac utility excavation testpit data with markers located at the Ground Elevation and Top of Utility. This same data is appended into Autodesk Navisworks for BIM model validation of existing utility modeling.
The typical samples in this posting all eliminated Excel as the authoring, calculation, analysis and/or import workflows that engineers and contract administrators perform every day. Builterra and the software we develop are all focused on streamlining the flow of data beyond design and into contract or project delivery.
Today, forward-thinking teams within companies like Aecon, WSP, Ellis Don and a growing number of Ontario municipalities are leveraging Builterra to transform contract administration. And we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Feel free to reach out to learn more about how your company can transform contract administration for greater efficiency and bottom-line results.
More About Jeff Lyons
Jeff Lyons, Eng. Tech, is dedicated to creating innovative civil engineering software solutions. As founding partner of Builterra, Jeff is a sought-after instructor and guest speaker who regularly engages with clients and associations to share insights that drive the industry forward.