Digital COM

About the Author: Sasha Reed has over 12 years of experience working directly in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. As VP of Strategic Alliances at Bluebeam Software, Sasha interacts directly with AEC leaders to better understand the long-range goals of the industry and help align Bluebeam’s technology partnerships. In addition, Sasha is acting Chair of the Construction PDF Coalition.  The purpose of the Coalition is to establish Guidelines to provide Architects, Engineers, Constructors and Owners (AECO) with a common framework in which to create and maintain Construction PDF Documents. Sasha has been featured as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bentley Florida User Group and spoken at numerous industry events including the American Institute of Architects’ DesignDC Conference, NTI Danish BIM Conference, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program and the International Facilities Management Association Conference. Sasha has also contributed articles to numerous national publications and authors the Digital Com blog for Building Design + Construction magazine. Before Bluebeam, Sasha was a Project Manager for M3, a Herman Miller dealer, where she learned firsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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Calibration is your friend

PDF drawings
January 29, 2013

With introductions out of the way and to kick off our first official blog post, I thought I’d start off with a cautionary tale of what didn’t work for one AEC firm…  ‘cause we can only go up from here, right?

Not long ago, I received a call from a Senior Design Manager of a large Construction firm.  When I picked up the phone and heard the dread in his voice, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.  He started off the conversation by telling me they had just learned a very valuable, yet expensive lesson.  His reason for calling me was so that I could pass this lesson along to others.  He then went on to describe a story of expensive miscalculation due to what he called, “user error”.  Now “user error” is a term I’m quite familiar with as it’s something my IT guy often refers to when I ask him to fix my computer.  This is typically then followed up with the statement that “the problem most likely exists between the keyboard and the computer,” which I’ve learned, is me.  But I digress.

So the story goes that this construction firm sent out a set of PDF drawings to their specialty contractors for bidding.  It just so happened that one of the drawings came back as a scanned PDF.  Not a big deal, they often receive back scanned drawings.  So they went through their usual process of marking up the PDF which included some takeoffs and measurements. Since they had invested in electronic markup tools they calibrated the PDF, to ensure all of the markups were to scale.  However in this instance, they were unaware that there had been a glitch during the scanning process which distorted a section of the drawing.  Having calibrated the drawing in only one spot, they didn’t catch this distortion. A few months later when their materials arrived onsite, they discovered their “user error” cost them nearly $100K in extra inventory!

So what is the lesson learned here?  Regardless if your drawing is a scan or a PDF converted from CAD, it’s always best to calibrate in at least three different spots.  This way, you are more likely to discover any glitches on the PDF drawing or mistakes in the notated scale.   Not to mention, saving yourself from telling your own “user error” story one day. 

         
 

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