By Greg Koontz, PE, LS
Within a couple of years, PC’s were the norm. AutoCAD and Micro Station were quickly becoming some of the main production software packages. Everyone was off and running with new technology, completing projects at record paces. Now, 30 years later we can do a million times more work on our phones than we could with these early PC’s, and today you can buy a terabyte of storage for under a hundred dollars.
As technology advances, some interesting trends are developing in our industry. Young engineers are smarter than ever and can really fly when it comes to the new technology. They seem to have had calculators from birth, phones and computers in elementary school, and they can run the wheels off any computer or software program. Give them a project, and they will turn it around in no time flat. Jobs that previously took months to put on paper can now be generated in weeks, even with twice the amount of information required per current regulations.
Today we may be saving our clients a lot of money, but less time is spent dealing with the details of design issues as we use software to get those answers for us – right or wrong. How many times have we seen design elements that stick out like a sore thumb to the experienced engineer, contractor, or construction manager, and wonder how we ended up with this for a design?
As a business owner and seasoned engineer, I have felt the need to put together a good system of dealing with the continuing challenges of changing technology as it relates to the way employees obtain real project understanding. The following are four simple steps to utilize technology to increase efficiency without compromising the quality of the project:
2. Make sure every engineer, technician employee, etc. has a good understanding of the key design principals that have always been critical to your company’s success and are often buried within complex software tools. Create specific training classes with multiple exposures to the key design principals, providing hands on reference material and manuals.
3. Identify what is really necessary to check final design solutions created by complex software packages. Specific checks of information entered into software may not be enough, and the creation of printable, visible intermediate steps to allow thorough checking may be required.
4. Arrange as much exposure to the actual construction process as possible. This exposure gives an entirely different perspective than what otherwise may only be seen on a computer screen.
Implementing a plan to ensure that employees understand the key design principals used by their software/technology will allow your company to continue to turn out quality work in record time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gregory N. Koontz, P.E., L.S. is co-founder and President of Koontz-Bryant, PC, a consulting engineering firm specializing in site development for both public and private clients. Over the last 10 years, Koontz-Bryant has worked on site development projects for the state, higher education institutions, and athletic facilities that are valued at more than one billion dollars in construction costs. With over 30 years of project design and management experience, Mr. Koontz understands the perspective of managing projects from both the design and client side bringing comprehensive and creative solutions to typical challenges on any given project. Currently Mr. Koontz serves on multiple committees for local jurisdictions involving the modification of site development regulations and their impact to the design community and their clients. For more information, please visit www.koontzbryant.com.