Surprisingly often, E&O personnel tell us that they have no need to do plant construction estimates. That may sound shocking to people who work at IOUs, but a lot of co-ops and municipal utilities see no perceived need for a before-the-fact estimate of work to be done without evaluation of the potential cost. Granted, most such utilities will make an exception for customer-driven work, but many even bypass much of that by adapting a flat rate policy for new services. But producing and evaluating a job estimate does more than calculate potential construction cost.

Planning and estimating a job means going beyond simply stating that you want to convert the overhead plant in the 500 block of Elm Street to underground. It means specifically identifying the parts that will be used, the equipment that will be needed, and the amount of labor, equipment usage, and third-party services involved.

Setting the obvious financial cost component aside, what does that do for us?

The planning end estimating process produces a detailed picture of what Engineering expects to be built, and that can sometimes differ drastically from the line crew’s perception of how things should be built. There are numerous benefits by laying out a detailed plan:

  1. There is no ambiguity about what is expected, and crew members are easily able to see discrepancies between plan and practice to provide corrective feedback.
  2. That, in turn, allows E&O to maintain a more accurate digital model of the plant.
  3. It reduces the amount of effort needed to reflect as-built conditions in the digital plant model.
  4. Predictable material purchasing requirements.
  5. More efficiently prioritized crew work.

In the past, a big barrier to job cost estimation was that it involved a lot of tedious work. With the right software tools, detailed job estimates are now just a by-product of describing proposed work in very broad terms.

PlantWorks and MapWorks from TerraSpatial Technologies provide the integrated software tools to seamlessly generate job packets with staking sheets, job sketches, required labor and equipment usage, and material pick lists that are integral to planning, job estimations, and work orders. And at the end of the job, the estimate can be compared to actual cost to provide a “report card” on a utility’s planning and communication abilities.

Contact TerraSpatial today to schedule a quick demonstration to see how you can improve utility management from planning stages through reporting.