BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
Al De Wachter,
A roadmap for the Controls Contractor who strives for efficiency gains and cost reduction.
Starting in 1903, it took Henry Ford 5 years to sell 1,750 hand built Model A’s at $750 each. Then he figured out that standardization lowered costs, and he sold 15,000,000 Model T’s in 19 years. Competing with others that still sold hand built cars for $2-3000, his $850 price gradually dropped to $300 as he refined his standards. Between 1927 and 1931, he sold 4.3 million of his “new” Model A’s, priced from $385 to $570. Since then, standardization has enabled virtually all modern technical progress.
If your operation still delivers every project “hand-built”, then standards can take your business to the next level. For our purpose, “standards” are defined as prepared, well thought-out systems that can be used repeatedly from job to job.
The power of standards has been proven to enable companies to:
Successfully respond to a higher volume of work
Book more profitable work
Avoid major mistakes that cause financial disaster
Reduce project costs
Make staff more productive
Deliver a consistent, predictable, professional product and service
Improve understanding and communication between Sales, Operations and Management
Why office standards are important and how to get the most out of them:
Trainers and new employees will leverage the
The time to get your staff trained and familiarized with company operating methods can be drastically reduced using standards.
Sales and Operations get “on the same page”.
Sales personnel can accurately build detailed estimates in record time. Operations personnel receive estimate information in a consistent format that they recognize, since they helped to develop it. Designs and submittals are produced in a fraction of the time they used to take.
Easily adjustable and customizable.
Standards should be ‘close’ but may not be ‘perfect’ for the job at hand. That’s OK if they can be easily customized. A powerful approach can be to build standards that contain as many options as possible. Users can then quickly remove unnecessary information to customize.
Field-test for accuracy.
As standards-based estimates are designed and executed, knowledge is refined through feedback, and subsequent estimates and submittals are further improved.
Share your standards.
Make standards easily accessible to all members of your team. Can standards be developed and distributed between satellite offices, branches or within your dealer group?
Make your standards easy to use and create.
Keep the process to create and apply standards as user-friendly as possible. Utilizing drag and drop routines or similar technology will keep things simple.
Keep your standards current.
Database information (material prices, available parts, etc) is constantly in flux. When a standard is used, you should be certain to cross-reference it for accuracy with the most current data available. Automating this process is recommended.
Your standards should be easy to find.
There’s no point in having standards that are hard to find. Make sure your standard systems can be easily located, based on simple search criteria. It is also helpful to be able to pre-view the contents of a standard system before importing it into your current estimate or design.
Make your standards complete.
The better your standard systems reflect the final product that is sought after, the more savings you will enjoy. In BAS systems, it is important to have the option to include:
- Detailed Cost estimates
- System logic (flow) schematics
- System wiring details
- System panel layouts
- Sequences of operations
- Various user notes
- Equipment lists (BOM – Bill of Material)
- Schedules for valves, damper, points
- MMI graphics
- DDC panel programming code
- Scanned or other connection details for major equipment (Chillers, boilers, ..)
- Commissioning checklists
- Ability to produce job plans
- Schedule of values
- Any electronic file that will complete your standard
Maintain a single database for Estimating,
Design and Execution
Shared product databases result in drastic reductions in database management costs and will keep your teams “on the same page”. Ideally, this database should support your estimates, designs, material ordering, job planning and related job aspects.
A contracting company operating without standards, or with poor standard practices, is:
Spending too much time and money on every job
Losing profitable work to the competition
“Re-inventing the wheel” with every new project
Over-extending staff, resulting in further mistakes and problems
Increasing the chances of costly errors
Every job is unique in its totality however the pieces that make up a project are mostly repeated from previous projects. Arguably, over 90% of every project has been performed in the past. Standardization of processes needs to be driven down into estimating, design, and submittal preparation in a manner similar to factory assembly principles. The remaining 10% of the project that represents truly needed customization can then be given suitable attention to achieve your quality and productivity goals.
For a proven and reliable infrastructure upon which to build your standards and streamline your business, you are invited to visit www.ics-controls.com
About the Author
Al De Wachter has been active in the Building Automation industry for over 38 years. He has held senior positions with leading companies in the field and is currently the president of ICS (Independent Control Specialists Inc). ICS develops advanced productivity software for Facility Automation Integrators and consults on related productivity issues. www.ics-controls.com
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