It may not involve duct tape and a stick of gum, but this story would make MacGyver proud

Do you remember the days when running into an issue out at the job site meant embarking on the long RFI process? Somehow we made it work, but the time wasted waiting for information always frustrated me.

July 23, 2013 |
Sasha Reed

Editor's note: This is a sponsored article. All text and images were provided by the sponsor company.


Do you remember the days when running into an issue out at the job site meant embarking on the long RFI process? I remember many a time on a project, and getting really good at shuffling resources in order to keep the crew busy while avoiding a work stoppage due to an unforeseen issue in the field.  Somehow we made it work. But the time wasted waiting for information always frustrated me.  It seemed it was an unavoidable part of the building process. I remember thinking that there had to be a faster way to tackle these challenges.

Smartphones were just coming onto the market at this time and the camera phone was just about good enough to get a low-res picture back to the office. But that still meant writing a long email to explain the context of the picture. What I really needed was a way to connect the marked up drawing and the image together, easily communicating the context of the issue.

Fast forward 7 years, and I’m now blown away by the things I see people doing with a smartphone, tablet and PDF. Honestly, I’m kind of wishing I was back out in the field as Project Manager again. Case in point: a construction administrator was faced with a potential delay of a couple weeks with an issue on the jobsite. However, (insert MacGyver music here) by using a camera phone, a tape measure, and PDF collaboration software, he was able to get a solution turned around within an hour.  An hour…that’s virtually unheard of.  Here’s what happened.  

The construction administrator received a call from his contractor notifying him that a concrete bench had been poured incorrectly and needed to be extended. The solution was pretty straightforward except for the fact that it required him to supplement the building instructions in order to accommodate existing conditions. Time was a major factor as the issue was holding up the other trades from finishing their work in the area. He didn’t have time to go through the normal process of getting the drawings revised, reviewed and sent back out to the jobsite.  So he asked for an RFI to be issued so he could get the ball rolling. He then asked the contractor to take a digital image of the area with a tape measure extended along the foundational wall.  

He then took that image, placed it on a blank PDF page and uploaded it into a collaboration session using his PDF software. Then he called up the project architect and engineer to have a quick meeting to review the drawing together. They looked at the PDF together and worked out the details of the redesign. Calibrating against the tape measure in the picture, they used PDF measurement tools, polylines and polygons to draw out their design instructions to scale. He then added callout text with additional instructions. When he was done, he flattened the image and markups onto the PDF to create a permanent record as a part of the PDF drawing set. He emailed the PDF off to the contractor who had everything he needed to get to work on extending the bench. All in all, a one-hour turnaround with a fully revised set of drawings sent to the site within a few days.  

Things like this come up on projects all the time. Responding quickly and clearly is paramount. Today, we are able to leverage smartphones, tablets, PDF, and the cloud like never before. I only wish I had them at my disposal back when I was in the thick of it. I could have avoided a few gray hairs.

Sasha Reed | Digital COM
Bluebeam Software

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 ?rsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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