For decades, ProDesign has been the UK’s most trusted electrical design software and, recently, it’s undergone some exciting and significant changes.
Among the major developments is the work the team behind the product have made to the user interface. Over the last few years, the team has ensured its functionality and appearance have continually evolved, ensuring the product can keep abreast of new software tools. This means ProDesign customers can rely upon always getting the maximum benefit of a state-of-the-art software tool, keeping them up with changes in industry requirements and regulations.
As Grant Webster, Senior Engineer and ProDesign Product Manager for Trimble MEP, explains the team’s commitment to ongoing development work has now also made it possible for ProDesign users to produce electrical designs directly in a 3D Revit MEP application.
“To me, electrical design should be done in a 3D environment... when you go into detail design and construction phases, using the 3D model will help to ensure the space for your electrical equipment is reserved in the model."
“This latest improvement to ProDesign really is a breakthrough for electrical design in the UK,” he enthuses.
“Integrating ProDesign engineering calculations with a Revit model helps to significantly reduce the amount of rework and re-entering of data into two products which, of course, makes the electrical design process more streamlined and efficient.”
Happily, for those already working in ProDesign, their familiarity with the existing features will not be compromised and while the new interface is more dynamic, it still boasts all of the tools and features inherent to the existing ProDesign.
In today’s industry, BIM and virtual construction are increasingly required on UK projects but, even in the absence of a mandatory directive, there are multiple benefits to undertaking electrical design in 3D.
Webster says: “The reason that companies are creating these models, even when it’s not mandatory, is that it’s easier to estimate costs accurately and you’re far better able to understand any issues you may encounter in the project going forward.
“To me, electrical design should be done in a 3D environment. As well as the reasons given already, when you go into detail design and construction phases, using the 3D model will help to ensure the space for your electrical equipment is reserved in the model.
“This should help to reduce changes to the design during the construction phase as the model should identify clashes, poor design and access issues to equipment early on in the design. Which may have been missed using traditional coordination methods which involved trying to overlay drawing and a lot of communication between different teams and subcontractors,” He adds.
“Furthermore, engineers can ensure that the data in the model is all stored in one location. While they’ll also be able to adapt their design more quickly as things change.
“Yet another benefit is that during conceptual design you can make an assessment of long lead items like transformers, main switchboards and submain cables much earlier than previously through using the assigned spaces functionality which is only available in ProDesign 3D.
“This functionality makes it faster and more accurate than traditional methods for making initial estimate” Webster says.
As with everything in business, the bottom line matters and the quicker and more accurate electrical designs are, the more reliable cost estimates are. Working in a 3D environment also reduces the amount of change orders required during the construction process, again saving time and money. In addition, working directly in the 3D Revit model results in less duplication of information and the need to continually import and export files. The latter process can lead to files easily becoming corrupted which, again, can lead to rework.
Offering his vision of electrical design going forward, Webster is keen to stress that he sees it very much within the realms of a 3D environment. He also states the importance of people embracing the transition from 2D design if they want their businesses to remain competitive.
“The benefit of using 3D tools and storing all this data into one tool will benefit all those involved,” He says.
“More time can be spent in the design office resolving issues that, on site, can lead to massive change orders and delays in schedules. It’s essential that businesses get onboard if they’re not going to fall behind.
“We will continue to develop ProDesign until it’s fully integrated with both the engineering tools and design tools contained within one application. This would include things like intelligent schematics, cable routing management tools, all within the ProDesign 3D product.
“We’re also making strides towards integrating automatic assignment of the cable route, installation method and grouping factors, while still allowing the user to to change this information if required.
“It's a big vision and will take time to get there but the benefit will improve the industry massively, helping to dramatically improve efficiency and reduce costs and mistakes.”