LantroTech: Setting the Standard for IT Estimation Excellence in Pakistan

In an era dominated by technology, the backbone of every successful enterprise lies in its IT infrastructure. From seamless connectivity to efficient data management, the role of Information Technology (IT) is paramount. One crucial aspect that underpins the success of IT projects is accurate estimation, and when it comes to Turn-Key Installations, precision becomes the guiding principle.

The art of IT estimation encompasses a multifaceted approach, involving the calculation of data points, cable lengths, termination equipment, backbone infrastructure, and cost considerations. This blog aims to unravel the intricacies of IT estimation used at LantroTech, offering a comprehensive guide for IT contractors, project managers, and anyone involved in the dynamic field of networking projects.

8 Crucial Steps Used in IT Estimation Process at LantroTech

Electrical Engineer in Pakistan calculating cable lengths

1. Understanding the Scope:

At LantroTech, the first step in estimation is a thorough understanding of the project’s needs. The scope can range from comprehensive installations to specific cable installations. Defining your responsibilities is key to tailoring your estimation process accordingly.

2. Analyzing Floor Plans:

Architectural plans and floor layouts serve as the blueprint for IT estimation. Carefully examining these documents allows us to identify areas requiring data points, such as offices, conference rooms, and common areas. This critical step sets the foundation for an efficient and effective IT infrastructure.

3. Quantity Take-offs and Cable Length Calculation:

A systematic approach to quantity take-offs involves counting all data devices, measuring distances to network equipment, and calculating required cable lengths. This meticulous process minimizes errors and ensures precise installation, considering both vertical and horizontal cable runs.

4. Choosing the Right Cables:

Selecting the appropriate cables is paramount for seamless network connectivity. Options such as Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, RG-6, and Fiber optic cables cater to various needs. Understanding the specific requirements of your project ensures optimal performance and reliability.

5. Equipment Room Setup:

The buildout of Main Distribution Frames (MDF) and Intermediate Distribution Frames (IDF) is pivotal for network efficiency. Installing racks, switches, routers, and cabling infrastructure forms the backbone of a well-organized and reliable IT network.

6. Scope Sheet and RFI Process:

The Takeoff Criteria Sheet is a concise document outlining project scope and specifications, serving as a foundation for accurate cost and resource estimation. Sending a Request for Information (RFI) to the General Contractor ensures alignment between IT infrastructure and the overall project plan, facilitating effective coordination and budgeting.

IT estimator from LantroTech Pakistan working on the RFI process

7. Bill of Material (BoM):

Creating a detailed Bill of Materials includes components like patch panels, patch cords, networking equipment, and cables. This step aids in accurate cost estimation, procurement planning, and overall project management.

8. Documentation for Precision:

Based on estimated quantities and types of cables and data points, calculating material and labor costs is crucial. Tools like Planswift, Blue Beam Revu, and Excel facilitate precise documentation for budgeting and project management. Submission of the project to the client follows this thorough documentation process.

Key Tools and Technologies Used at LantroTech

Utilizing advanced tools like Planswift and Blue Beam Revu for IT takeoffs, coupled with Excel for the scope sheet, ensures accuracy in documentation. Crafting bids and proposals is streamlined using PeWin Databases, while custom databases like END, PDB, CDB, etc., aid in end-user communication and documentation.

LantroTech's IT estimator using PlanSwift for IT takeoffs

Future of IT Estimation

The future of IT estimation is poised for unprecedented growth and complexity, with key focal points being data centers, comprehensive technology integration across all types of facilities, and a continually expanding scope. As organizations increasingly rely on data-driven decision-making, the demand for robust and scalable data centers is set to soar. Moreover, the integration of technology into every facet of facilities, ranging from commercial spaces to industrial complexes, is becoming more integral. This evolution is driven by the growing reliance on interconnected systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) for efficient operations. Furthermore, the scope of IT estimation is anticipated to continuously broaden, reflecting the dynamic nature of technological advancements. As emerging technologies and innovations shape the landscape, IT estimation will play a pivotal role in ensuring seamless and adaptive infrastructures that meet the evolving needs of businesses and industries.

Conclusion

Mastering IT estimation is a blend of meticulous planning, accurate documentation, and leveraging cutting-edge tools and technologies. By following these steps and considerations, IT contractors can ensure a seamless Turn-Key Installation, meeting project requirements while staying within budget constraints. The precision achieved through this process is not only a testament to professionalism but also a key factor in the success of LantroTech’s IT and networking projects. To explore more about our comprehensive IT Estimation services, we invite you to connect with us. Feel free to reach out by completing the form below.

Electrical Estimation 101: A Look into our Recent Webinar

LantroTech recently organized a highly informative webinar on Electrical Estimation, which focused on the fundamentals of estimation and the promising career opportunities in this field. During the webinar, our team of experts shared their valuable insights and experiences with the attendees, providing them with a deeper understanding of this vital aspect of the construction and engineering industry.

In this blog post, we will recap the important highlights and takeaways from the webinar, delving deeper into the topics discussed during the event. We’ll also address some of the relevant and interesting questions posed by attendees that couldn’t be answered during the live event.

If you missed the webinar or simply want to revisit the key points covered during the event, this blog post is the perfect resource for you. So without further ado, let’s dive in and explore the world of electrical estimation together!

Key Takeaways

What is Electrical Estimation and Why is it Required?

  • Electrical estimation is the process of figuring out the cost and time required for an electrical project.
  • Electrical estimation is required for both technical and business reasons.
  • In technical terms, electrical estimation helps in planning and budgeting for the project.
  • In business terms, electrical estimation is the starting point for bidding and tendering.
  • Electrical estimation includes four main things: material costs, labor hours, overhead costs, and contingency costs.
  • Material costs include the prices of wires, switches, outlets, light fixtures, and other electrical equipment.
  • Labor hours refer to the working time of electricians and other workers to install all the components.
  • Overhead costs include expenses like insurance, permits, and administrative costs associated with the project.
  • Contingency cost is a safety net in case of unexpected expenses or project changes.

Different Types of Electrical Estimation Methods:

The basic difference between the various methods is their effectiveness and efficiency The Top four methods are:

  1. Order of Magnitude Estimate – an estimator makes an educated guess and the accuracy/error margin is around 25-30%.
  2. Square Foot Estimate – used when the area of the building is known and takes a few hours to complete, with an accuracy of around 20%.
  3. Assemblies Estimate – group of items associated with a component that is being estimated, takes around a day to complete, with a tolerance of around +-15%.
  4. Unit Estimate Method – requires a complete working drawing set and detailed specification, most time-consuming method with the highest accuracy of around +-10%, primarily used for bidding purpose.
Infographics showing four methods of electrical estimation

At LantroTech we generally use the Unit Estimate Method.

Technical Terms Used in Electrical Estimation:

  • SOW – Scope of Work
  • RFI – Request for Information
  • Quantity Take-off – listing all electrical components with exact quantities
  • RFQ – Request for Quotation
  • BOM – Bill of Material
  • Local vendors vs National vendors
  • Bid – a formal document/proposal quoting your price to the contractors
technical terms used in electrical estimation

Steps to Prepare an Electrical Estimate:

  • Conduct a Site Visit
  • Review the Project Plans and Specifications
  • Create a List of Electrical Materials
  • Determine the Quantity of Materials Required
  • Research Material Costs
  • Estimate Labor Costs
  • Calculate Overhead Costs
  • Include Contingency Fund
  • Finalize the Estimate
  • Submit the Estimate
flow diagram showing steps to prepare an electrical estimate.

Factors that Affect an Electrical Estimate:

  • Area/Location of the project
  • Occupancy of the project
  • Architectural details, elevations, sections, finishes schedule
  • MEP plans and coordination

After the Electrical Estimate:

  • After completing the estimate, it goes through several review layers.
  • Estimator works on overheads, profit margins, labor costs, taxes, and tolerance funds.
  • Estimate is submitted to the owner/PM for review and analysis.
  • Meetings are held with the PM/owner to check if the proposal cost is within budget.
  • Cost optimization/value engineering techniques are used if the proposal is not within budget.

Estimation and Project Management:

  • Estimation and project management are closely connected.
  • Both are necessary for completing a project within budget and timeline.
  • There is constant communication between estimators and project managers throughout the project timeline.
  • The project manager’s job relies on having a properly estimated project.
  • The “Waterfall methodology” is a common construction project methodology where estimation is the start of project management.
  • Estimator accuracy and project manager efficiency are critical to a project’s success or failure.
Steps involved in a waterfall methodology for electrical estimation.

Skills and Background Required to Learn Electrical Estimation:

  • A right technical background, preferably in electrical engineering or associate electrical engineering.
  • Attention to detail.
  • IT aptitude for working with multiple software and coordinating with different people in the estimation process.

 Scope of Electrical Estimation in Pakistan and Abroad:

  • Due to the economic crunch, organizations and builders are looking to optimize costs and increase savings, leading to an increasing demand for experts in all facets of construction, including electrical estimation.
  • Electrical engineers are now a big part of the construction industry in Pakistan, as every structure runs on electricity and electrical equipment.
  • There has always been a demand for electrical estimators in construction, especially in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Ireland.
  • There is an increasing demand for data centers in Pakistan and abroad, and electrical infrastructure construction is the backbone of it.
  • This presents a great opportunity for electrical engineers to pursue a career in estimation.

Questions Asked by the Audience

Here is a list of questions that couldn’t be answered during the webinar:

Q1: What is the common Estimating Software used at LantroTech or generally in Pakistan?
Ans: There are various softwares used in the entire process of estimation. These softwares are used for fulfilling different purposes. The three most common types include:

  1. Communication Software: Any possible communication channel that works for both you and the client. Some good ones include Teams, Outlook, etc.
  2. Technical Software: These are used for Take-off purposes, i.e., Quantity Take-offs and Assembly Take-offs. Some best ones include:
    • Plan Swift: Ideal for counting quickly, easy to export excel reports, both online/offline functionality, not good for assembly take-offs.
    • CONEST Surecount: Quantity Take-offs, Branch Measurements, Distribution of Items in different groups as in levels and type of item.
    • CONEST Intellibid: Assembly Take-offs, Works best in coordination with Surecount, directly export the items from sure count to intellibid, best reporting features, best in-built database of assemblies and items from various manufacturers and part numbers.
    • Bluebeam Revu: Majorly used for Skimming purposes, highlighting scope of work, counting and quick take-offs, shop drawings.
  3. Storage and Transfer Software: You need softwares for storing and transferring files in large quantities. Ideally, a cloud-based system is best suited for a group of people, for example, CONEST Cloud, Dropbox, PlanGrid etc.

    Most of the softwares are charged annually, but they are worth the price for the value they add to the process. It’s good to research and choose the one best suited to meet your needs.

Common electrical estimating softwares

Q2: Is it possible to give estimation services remotely?

Ans: Definitely!! Many companies in India, Pakistan and other regions are providing remote services to their clients based in the US, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where Estimation is a thriving industry. The key is developing good communication and finding ways best suited for the client and the service provider. The Site visits are a major hiccup in this process, so it’s necessary to work in strong coordination with the team member who is present on site. It’s important that clients are aware of your situation and are willing to assist in accurately determining the scope of your work. Overall, remote estimation services can be an excellent career choice.

Q3: How to take off quantities when you have a drawing which is not scaled?
Ans:

  • Raise an RFI and ask the client to provide you with a scaled dwg set.
  • Calibrate the drawing using any known length shown on the drawing.
  • Calibrate the drawing as per the local/International architectural standards, for instance, a 3ft door in the US.

Q4: How can you stay up-to-date with changes in electrical codes and regulations when estimating electrical work?

Ans: Any ideal drawing set will come with instructions that will highlight the codes you need to refer to. You’ll get familiar with most of those with enough time and practice. In case anything new comes up, always look it out in the local/International applicable code. Communicate with the client and ask for a reason for that particular code that is mentioned (particularly if you’re estimating for a remote location). Most of the time, codes are based upon safety considerations and are there to avoid any unfortunate incident. Anything in the design plan that suggests imbalance or a potential hazard must be against the code. It is your cue to check out the applicable code and if there is a particular reason for that arrangement in that case. Make a log of all the different types of projects you have done and all the specific codes that apply to them. It will help you next time.

Q5: What are some common mistakes when estimating electrical work?

Ans: Here is a list of a few commonly made mistakes:

  1. ​​Not catering for a Voltage Drop in the branch measurements.
  2. Not catering for contingency costs.
  3. Ignoring work timings (Straight time/Overtime).
  4. Ignoring Existing Conditions (Usually, a lot of stuff is being re-used).
  5. Not using the latest updated market pricing.
  6. Not giving importance to the architectural layout of the building (For an open ceiling, costs are high etc.)
  7. Not providing Temp power/wiring.

Hopefully by now, you must be quite familiar with Electrical Estimation in general and the process involved in carrying it out. One thing is clear: Electrical Estimation is a mandatory prerequisite for the projects undertaken by construction companies and extremely beneficial in increasing your organization’s productivity and efficiency.

Wrapping Up

At LantroTech, we are committed to providing high-quality informational content and resources to support professionals in the electrical and marketing industry. We’re proud of the work we do and are excited to continue offering webinars like this in the future. Please follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with our latest posts and events. If you have any feedback or suggestions for future webinar topics, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Click here to watch the webinar recording.

Enhance Business Efficiency with Electrical Estimation Services

As the construction industry becomes increasingly competitive, construction companies need to do whatever it takes to ensure the projects they undertake are efficiently delivered. One way to do that is to engage in Electrical Estimating. You might feel a bit lost if you are new to this term, and we don’t blame you.

With the plethora of information available on Electrical Estimation, it can become quite overwhelming for someone just starting out and attempting to get familiarized with it. Well, you’re in luck! The following blog post covers the fundamentals of Electrical Estimation, the projects and Electrical Estimation process we undertake at LantroTech, and how investing in software-based Electrical Estimating services can help your organization achieve efficiency.

What Exactly Is Electrical Estimation?

In simple words, Electrical Estimation is a process carried out by Engineers and Project Managers to determine the engineering materials required, the time that will be taken, and the investment involved in completing an electrical project.

Estimators have to consider a wide range of factors when estimating costs. These include overhead costs, which cover all the indirect costs of a job, e.g., accounting fees, marketing, legal fees, rent, taxes, utilities, etc. Takeoffs refer to the estimated quantities that electrical contractors require for a project. They ensure that electrical estimators are able to determine the specific items and the exact number of items they need for the job by using plans or drawings. Finally, labor costs are often determined using labor units by taking the ratio of installation time to the number of labor.

Consideration of factors like cost and material takeoffs to estimate costs.

Why Contractors Need Estimating ​

If you believe you can ensure the successful completion of a project without Electrical Estimation, think again! Since Electrical Estimation enables construction companies to forecast the overall project costs, it has become a significant and unavoidable part of the overall construction process.

A project requires a multitude of resources since many individual parts need to be ordered and installed. Moreover, fluctuation in costs of wiring, electricity, conduits, etc., over the year must be accounted for, so estimating ensures that contractors can cover all the costs and turn the project into a profit.

Electrical Estimation leads to improved project planning and management as it allows contractors to fix the budget and complete details of the required materials to carry out a project prior to execution. This makes it possible to identify the most economical procedure to execute the project. Most importantly, the calculated electrical estimates not only act as a guide for the contractor but are also good reference points for all future projects.

LantroTech’s Electrical Estimating Projects ​

If we specifically talk about LantroTech, our estimation services mainly focus on electrical work. The majority of our work centers around takeoff services of building electrical and low-voltage systems and cost estimating of the electrical system of a particular building.

Our projects are divided into four broad categories: Residential Electrical Estimating, Retail Electrical Estimating, Healthcare Electrical Estimating, and Commercial Electrical Estimating. So we calculate electrical estimates for all sorts of buildings, including but not limited to apartments, houses, restaurants, hotels, resorts, hospitals, and physiotherapy clinics. We then apply the gathered data and calculations to determine the electrical cost of power distribution within a specific building by identifying the appropriate power devices and circuit panels to use.

Electrical Estimator working on an electrical project.

LantroTech’s Electrical Estimating Process​

At LantroTech, we receive numerous projects on a daily basis. We skim through each project, run quality checks, analyse their specifications, and then calculate each project’s relevant estimates. An estimate for a project includes fixtures (lights), power devices, HVACs (heating, ventilating, air-conditioning units), fire alarms, power distribution equipment, branching, feeders, lighting controls, grounding, site work, and estimate of demolition of a building. Once the estimates have been calculated, we evaluate the project in terms of material units and labor hours. These two factors give us a clear idea of how long the project will take to complete and how much it will cost.

If our cost is competitive compared to other bidders, we win the bid, and the project is awarded to us by the general contractor. When the project is officially handed over to us, we start by developing designs on paper; this step is called submittal packages, after which we involve the contractors and work in synergy with them. Our Project Manager coordinates the construction work with the contractors based on the takeoff sheets and determines how the project will be implemented in the field.

LantroTech’s Estimating Workflow​

LantroTech's estimating workflow comprises SKIM Plans, RFQs & RFIs, Counting, Take offs, Discussion and Review.

Estimating Software Used at LantroTech

The Estimating team at LantroTech utilizes relevant, cutting-edge software for the estimation process, some of the tools we use are:

  • Intellibid ConEst
  • SureCount
  • PlanSwift
  • Bluebeam Revu
  • PlanGrid

Intellibed ConEst

ConEst is the primary software used by our estimating team. It is used for pricing the estimated material and calculating the labor hours of all the work involved in an estimate. This data is then exported in the form of takeoff sheets. ConEst contains a database of thousands of assemblies with hundreds of thousands of parts along with the associated dollar amount and labor hour units.

SureCount

SureCount is the primary material takeoffs tool. It counts individual items such as lighting and power devices and measures linear lengths such as branch and feeder circuits. The major advantage of SureCount is that it is easily connected with Intellibid ConEst, and we can access the ConEst database directly from SureCount.

Both ConEst and SureCount are cloud-based software, so everything is centered, and every team member can view all estimates on this software.

PlanSwift

PlanSwift is also a material takeoff tool used in parallel with SureCount. It is local software as opposed to cloud-based SureCount, so it offers fast transitions and better takeoff speed. As it is local software, files are not centralized, and every team member cannot view estimates done on this software, though there is an option to make central cloud storage and send the whole project as an email to other users of PlanSwift.

Bluebeam Revu

BlueBeam Revu is a powerful software used primarily to dive deep into design files. Revu allows us to highlight drawings, add markups and comments, carve out specific drawings from a whole set, take a snapshot of a small portion of the drawing, compare drawings, convert tables in the drawings to excel, and many more functionalities.

PlanGrid

PlanGrid is a cloud-based software primarily used to upload plans and project drawings. All the files on PlanGrid are central, as well as the changes made to the files so everyone can view them.

LantroTech's Estimators using PlanSwift software for material takeoff.

Advantages of Software-Based Electrical Estimation

It is essential to have the correct estimate for any kind of project, whether it is commercial or residential. Doing so not only saves time but also helps to have a rough estimate of the materials required, costs needed, and labor involved for satisfactory completion of work.

When it comes to using software-based electrical estimations, it is far ahead of the traditional estimation method in all aspects. Software-based approach helps subcontractors estimate and bid on projects faster and get more jobs in less time. Now let us walk you through some advantages of using software-based electrical Estimation for your projects.

High Efficiency

Every business wants to improve its overall efficiency, and Electrical Estimation software can help them achieve this goal. Estimates prepared by the cost estimator using the software are quick and save time. No matter which industry you belong to, this method can help you streamline and track your business processes efficiently. Once everything becomes efficient, you will see a consistent boost in your overall business growth.

Greater Accuracy

Estimation is vital from different perspectives, so its accuracy inevitably matters. Accuracy means fewer mistakes and an increase in production and productivity. The software-based method reduces the likelihood of errors and is more precise in estimating job materials, price, and labor, thus giving you and your clients more accurate estimates.

Better Project Management

We know that effective project management is required to carry out a project and bring it to completion. The Project Manager must be aware of the process and consider all possible scenarios. But with so many things to do, it becomes difficult to keep track of everything. This is where the estimating software comes into play. Estimating software helps businesses to manage projects with little hassle, ensuring no critical details are left behind.

Increased Productivity

Using Estimating software can improve your productivity in many different ways. From saving the amount of time spent in completing the bid to increasing the accuracy of the project by streamlining the entire process, it ultimately results in increased productivity.

Final Verdict

By now, you must be quite familiar with Electrical Estimation in general and the process involved in carrying it out. One thing is clear: Electrical Estimation is a mandatory prerequisite for the projects undertaken by construction companies and extremely beneficial in increasing your organization’s productivity and efficiency.

At LantroTech, we provide quality Electrical Estimating services. Our extensive knowledge and first-class resources allow us to translate a project from inception to completion by offering a multitude of solutions for today’s real-world problems with maximum efficiency.

If you would like to learn more about our Estimating services, contact us today by simply filling out form below.