Should Electrical Estimating Software Have AutoCAD Integration?

Should Electrical Estimating Software Have AutoCAD Integration?

Many electrical estimating programs will tell you that AutoCAD integration is an important component of their software. In reality this is not a particularly important feature. There are much more important aspects of the software which should be given greater consideration than AutoCAD integration, which offers few benefits.

AutoCAD is computer software that is used for creating 2D and 3D designs. Floor plans or blueprints are created using AutoCAD. The “CAD” part of AutoCAD stands for Computer Aided Design or Computer Aided Drafting. Many electrical estimating software programs include AutoCAD incorporation.

One aspect of electrical estimating involves the counting of material and devices from the design plans. This involves either manually counting each item or using software such as AutoCAD which totals up the counts for you. The total counts are used in order to come up with an estimate of the cost of the material for the job.

In AutoCAD you can get device counts from the AutoCAD floor plans. A device is an assembly of parts, which are known as blocks. It is the block counts that can be extracted and inserted into the estimating program with AutoCAD integration.

The value of block counts in AutoCAD is limited because the counting of devices and fixtures is a very quick process. Also, the device and fixture counts can very easily be extracted from AutoCAD and inputted into estimating software manually.

Any quality estimating software will make it easy for the user to enter device, fixture and other material counts into the program. For this reason the use of AutoCAD in not a necessary feature. With good software the use of AutoCAD will save little time over the manual process. Contrary to what many software companies will tell you, AutoCAD integration is not a necessary feature.

When choosing estimating software it is important to look for a system that is fully functional as well as user friendly. For electrical contracting the software must include numerous item assemblies, labor units and supplier material prices to name just a few important features.

In summary, while the integration of electrical estimating software with AutoCAD seems like an important part of the process in creating electrical contracting bids, its benefits are very limited. When choosing electrical estimating software this factor should be considered a low priority. The overall functionality, depth of features and user friendliness are much more important than AutoCAD integration, which is not a necessary software feature.