Calibration is your friend

January 29, 2013 |
Sasha Reed

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. 

Sasha Reed | Digital COM
Bluebeam Software
Vice President of Strategic Development

As Vice President of Strategic Development at Bluebeam Software, Sasha Reed collaborates with leaders in the architecture, engineering and construction industry to guide Bluebeam’s technology, partnerships and long-term goals. She joined Bluebeam in 2007 and co-created the Concierge Approach, a distinctly branded process of customer engagement, product feedback and solution delivery to which much of Bluebeam’s success is attributed, and which today is replicated at every organizational level.

Sasha is known industry-wide as a “conversation facilitator,” creating platforms for exchanges necessary to digitally advance the industry, including the BD+C Magazine Digital COM Blog, which she authors and manages. She’s been a featured presenter at numerous national and international conferences, including the 2014 Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), Federal Project Delivery Symposium and NTI Danish BIM Conference. Sasha also co-chairs the Construction PDF Coalition, a grassroots effort to provide a common industry framework from which to create and maintain construction PDF documents, serves on the City College of San Francisco BIM Industry Council, and is Advisor to the Board of Direction for the National Institute of Building Sciences BuildingSMART Alliance.

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