Engineering: Do you know where your building drawings are? Property owners need to protect your assets

October 28, 2013 - Spotlights

Mario Carmiciano, JFK&M Consulting Group

Whenever we undertake a design assignment, we always request access to the existing building design documents. Most often, such a request is met with a blank expression or negative response of "I do not think that we have any as-built drawings."
Property owners need to protect their assets and it begins with having accurate and accessible building documentation in good condition. It is imperative that record drawings be kept in an organized manner and maintained in good condition. It is commonplace to find that if they do have documentation, the condition of the documents is so poor that they are barely useable. Documents are tattered, torn, water stained and, sometimes, insect eaten. These documents are extremely valuable in operating, monitoring and maintaining the building's infrastructure. How often has a pipe broken and the shut off valve location could not be found? How often was an office hot or cold and the volume damper could not be located? How often did a circuit breaker trip and the source of power was unknown.
In this digital iPod, iPad, Cloud world, it is relatively easy to have base building documents, renovations, etc. scanned and readily available on a server or CPU or even available on line via a smartphone instead of just physically saving hard copy documents in accessible dry locations. You need a program to preserve your documentation because that preserves your assets.
Some of the points that should be considered when beginning such a program to preserve your documentation are:
1. Choose reliable scanning service.
2. Establish a labeling protocol and have every scanned document labeled. Do not accept arbitrarily meaningless scanning by number or code; you will never find anything.
3. Have your design professionals provide you with similarly scanned and labeled documentation as part of the project close out.
4. Have subcontractors provide scanned and identified documents.
5. Maintain the system as if it were your own tax records. You never know when you will need them.
If you do not even have the documentation to scan, there are services and systems that can actually scan your buildings so you can capture that documentation. These services provide three dimensional laser scanning and produce detailed electronic architectural materials that represent your property regardless of the type of facility.
Next you should consider acquiring or accessing engineering drawing and document management software.
Whether you are maintaining buildings, or managing new construction and renovation projects in one or a portfolio of facilities, you need a coordinated information management effort for your documentation. For each building system - HVAC, piping, or other maintenance systems - there may be dozens of related CAD drawings that describe the layout of all types of equipment and conduits. Organizing and providing access to information about all current building layouts is as important as it is time consuming.
Again, there is software available providing a single source for document access and control. This type of software enables users to find design and business documents located anywhere while ensuring version control and maintaining an audit trail for each document throughout its lifecycle With such information, your building managers will have more reliable, accurate data to make decisions about new construction and renovations.
Using document control systems, building managers can make revisions to drawings within the software environment and those changes are automatically available to every key player in the organization within days versus several months.
Tools such as these eliminate the difficult handling of hard copy documentation and the costly distribution of changes while sharing a centralized document repository with others so they know their information is accurate, accessible and secure.
Adept enables commercial, university, and government facilities departments to find, manage, share, and control any document that is part of the facilities information life cycle, including CAD drawings and business and contract documents for as-builts and retrofits. Adept provides drawing and document control, change management, and advanced 2D / 3D visualization capabilities that improve efficiency, accuracy and collaboration across multi-site locations.
Adept works with the world's most popular CAD and business programs, including AutoCAD-based design software, MicroStation, Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint.
* Find, control, manage and share as-builts, retrofits, or energy efficiency plans to ensure all stakeholders have access to the latest version
* Create a centralized repository and infrastructure that supports sustainable facility initiatives
* Visualize, markup and compare over 450 formats without a seat of the native application to reduce costs
* Automate workflow, transmittals and change management processes for greater efficiency
* Achieve and maintain regulatory compliances with an electronic audit trail
Facilities Drawing & Document Management
Adept serves as a single source for document access and control, enabling users to find design and business documents located anywhere while ensuring version control and maintaining an audit trail for each document throughout its life cycle. It also gives facilities planning and construction group more reliable, accurate data to make decisions about new construction and renovations. Using Adept, facilities managers make revisions to drawings from within Adept's environment and those changes are automatically available to every key player in the organization within days versus several months. Facilities group eliminate costly distribution of changes and share a centralized document repository with others so they know their information is secure.
Mario Carmiciano, P.E., is principal of JFK&M Consulting Group, LLC, New York, N.Y.

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