Foodservice Equipment Reports

Tech Tools Ease Installation Blues

In this month's FER Exclusive, "How To Avoid Installation Nightmares," Founding Editor Emeritus Brian Ward interviews industry professionals about what goes wrong during equipment installations and the best ways to minimize problems. To a person, those interviewed said miscommunication between parties was the No. 1 reason projects derail. It’s an age-old complaint, but I had to wonder why installation never seems to get easier over time. Back in 2004, Donna Hood Crecca wrote an article on the topic for NAFEM in print, the magazine we produced for the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, and the problems cited then were just the same. 

In this issue’s article, a few sources mention how technology is helping to effect improvement in communication and how, through better communication, the installation process is improving. Sometimes technology is hard to adopt—those who are designing in Revit will tell you it took courage, time and money to switch from the comfort and familiarity of AutoCAD. And those who adopted AutoCAD 20 years ago will tell you it took courage, time and money to fold up the drafting table to make way for the computer. 

What cheers me up is that I think a lot of very helpful technology is getting easier to adopt; it’s much more intuitive. Rather than carrying rolls of blueprints, installation professionals use lightweight laptops or tablets. With our smartphones, we carry the Internet and all of our contacts with us everywhere we go. We can snap and share with multiple people a photo of everything from a utility connection problem to a tile sample. We get answers to questions instantaneously.

And then we hear about even newer technologies, such as Bluebeam Revu, the editing, markup and document-collaboration tool that, among other things, takes all of those Word documents, rolls of blueprints, CAD drawings, Revit documents and Navisworks materials and turns them into PDFs. The program automatically incorporates changes from the architect, mechanical engineer, plumbing contractor, general contractor and others into one updated, master document. The program literally gets everyone on the same page.

Despite the fact that installation pros still bemoan all of the problems that can and do occur on the job, not one of them would disagree that technology is helping to ease the pain.

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