Electronic Plan Review

For those companies, agencies and individuals that are working with electronic plan review, please answer the following:

Q1) What software are you using? Is it web-based? Is special hardware required?

Q2) Is the plan review done electronically only (i.e. by commenting on the electronic drawings and then sending back for corrections), or are there other ways you are doing in conjunction with electronic commenting.

Q3) What is the scope of project are you using via electronic review (projects of unlimited scope, small projects (additions and remodel), other)?

Q4) How was staff trained and how long it took (learning curve)? How is that working out for you?

Any other comments dealing with electronic review are appreciated. Thank you.
Original Post
GoodEngr; welcome to the world of inconsistency and flailing opinions that no one can agree to a rational overall system.

Q1; Adobe Acrobat Pro when plans are submitted as pdf type files.
Autocad LT when plans are dwg, dxf, or dwf file types.

Q2; Review by Acrobat results in "comments" being attached to the electronic file on each page. Usually leaders and numbers are graphically placed on the plan with a comment note in a popup box. One client likes to get a separate list document with the comments in serial order by sheet and comment number to better integrate with their work system/flow.

Q3; I have used both systems on projects ranging from 450million multiple story to small alterations.

Q4; If you have staff that already knows plan review, the training is minimal for Adobe Acrobat Pro as most people are familiar with Acrobat Reader, Pro looks and feels similar with similar interface and tools.
The autocad based review takes a bit more time to get both the submitting company and the reviewer on a compatible interface. We have had problems with full 3D files not being able to be fully read by LT and the comment layers need to be created by the Architect prior to submittal so compatibility doesn't become an issue when reviewed docs are sent back.
Had some success with the old autocad web viewer, it had simple graphic tools and text tools that would only operate on a comment layer when set up properly making the learning curve quite quick.

Of any system you use, document and refine the system so the submitting Architect (or whomever it may be) knows what to expect when the documents are sent back. Be consistent with your internal procedures to keep the markup/comment system as clean/simple as possible to shorten the staff learning curve and provide consistent reports to the "client" that look and feel and operate the same.
I'm not a plan reviewer, but thought I should chime in here from the architect's point of view on submittal formats:
- There are other options to Acrobat Pro that are much less expensive, such as CutePDF Pro.
- Not everyone uses Acad, and not all cadd programs can output a DWG that retains all formatting from the original file format.

I think PDF would be the best format for submittals.
Just curious here...

Some projects have 100's of sheet (think high-rise buildings, industrial plants, etc)... are you telling me that a reviewer would be expected to electronically review such a project, sheet by sheet on a computer screen and making his/her comments on the electronic drawings!

Wow...think eye sight loss at the end of the process, fatigue and some serious software/hardware and bandwidth needed on both ends (sender and receiver) Wink

I know that large companies are using some fancy ($) electronic review by centralizing the documents location and having contracator, subs, engineer, owner and architect collaborate and comment on one set of electronic drawings from anywhere in the world. This process to become available and useable by the rest of us will take some time, but its coming.

I just think electronic review for limited (smaller) scope projects is feasible, but for large/complex ones---well, good luck!
DSA Electronic Plan Review Seminar

FILE SIZE: PDF documents should not exceed 50 megabytes (mb) in size. If a submittal will exceed this limit, contact DSA for consultation on an appropriate means of segregating sheets in order to remain below 50 mb.
Fortunately I don't do many large projects with 100's of sheets. Gives me a chance to get rid of the neck twitches and get to the optometrist for reground lenses. Large projects can be done with multiple monitors.

Pdf is getting to be the format of choice. One thing that makes the whole system easier is to develop the contents table for navigation and if using later Adobe versions, set the file permissions/format so multiple copies can be open at the same time. For really big projects, breaking the file into volumes helps. For example, the electrical volume can be open with the architectural volume opened separately so consistency can be verified on the plan views between design disciplines. Using multiple monitors also speeds up the bounce around in the document set.
I have a friend whom has produced all his plans from his PC since day one as far as pc's go. He sends the documents via the internet or via disc by snailmail or fed ex. to his clients, the guy has stayed busy for years and never advertizes. As far as plan check on a monitor brang it on. Having to deal with so many different sized plans is a pain some times.
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