Something not usually enjoyable: setting up a construction commissioning project
In the world of commissioning, one of the more painful tasks is setting up a project. You have to get a list of devices ready to go and in a consumable format: unique identifier, device description, device name, manufacturer, model, etc. You have to set up the same thing for systems, which are bascially groups of devices organized by engineering area or system ID. Then you have to either build or find the right commissioning form templates for each device type. Sometimes this means creating new form templates because some devices are brand new technoogy that have never been commissioned before.
Sometimes, on large complex construction projects, setting up the project might take months. Yes. Months. And not only because its painful to set up. Sometimes you are merely in a holding pattern waiting for others to provide you with a final list of devices that will be commissioned, or for a decision to be made as to how to categorize device types and system codes. Nothing you can really do to expedite this part. But you can get everything else ready to go while waiting on the GC.
Easier project setup with small subtle, features
We’ve taken the approach of using various small controls to make commissioning project setup easier and less time-consuming. Here’s a few of those subtle features.
If you spend some effort creating something, say…building a device type hierarchy, why make you repeat this again for your next project? Why not just clone an old project and edit as needed for the new one?
Similarly, if you build a form template, why not just clone it and edit the new one as needed?
We took this cloning approach across our entire platform, from the biggest elements, like the ability to clone a project, to the smallest element, like the ability to clone a field. And everything in between. Take a look at the screenshots below for examples of how we integrated cloning throughout our Cx platform.
Cloning a Project
When you clone a project, the system will auto-clone the device types hierarchy you already set up for the source project, along with all the % complete weights given for each device type. This alone is a huge time savings. You also have the option to clone the system codes you set up. This is useful if the new project your team will be commissioning is very similar to the source project.
To clone an existing project, just click on the red icon on the far right of the project, as depicted in the screesnhot below. Optionally, flip the “Clone Systems” on/off switch to “on” if you also want to clone the system codes.
Cloning a Template
After you create one template, you can clone it and then edit the cloned template. This saves you a ton of time, since often your templates will have similar sections and fields, particularly the project details and sign-off sections of a template.
Within a specific template, you can also clone an entire template section, a field within a section, and even a row within a table.
Auto-generating PDF template code
Why force you to style and design a PDF template if it can be done automatically, with a (customizable) elegant design style right out of the box? If you decide that the out-of-the-box style is good enough, you can auto-generate all your PDF templates, saving tons of time. Each PDF template can also be customized, and they use style sheets, making elements easier to edit and customize.
The PDF code generated by the auto-generator (which is html) can be accessed right from within the Template Designer tool and edited as needed. As mentioned, you can edit the HTML styles (e.g., H1 or H2 tags) and any element using that style will auto-update.
Import external data
XForms Cx also employs the ability to import both your device list as well as your systems list. It’s super easy to use. Best approach is to download the example CSV template file, populate it with your information, and then import it.
When you import your file, you will have the option to skip duplicates. When enabled, this feature will check the database before importing, and if it finds a match in the import file, it will skip that record. This feature helps avoid the creation of duplicate entries if you accidentally use the same file as before.
You can also do things in batches, so that you don’t have to do them one by one.
Pre-poulated blank forms
Finally, once you set up your project, you can download auto-generated blank form templates for each device, pre-populated with header information like project name, project type, system code, device ID, and device description. The rest of the form…the commissioning details…will ber blank, so your field crews can fill them out manually (for those field crews that are still tech-shy and refuse to use mobile devices for their work.
These blank pre-populated form templates can also be used to cross-check your project setup:
- Are the devices matched up correctly with the proper commissioning forms?
- Are the commissioning form templates capturing the right information we want?
- Are the project header details correct?
I’ve been to a bunch of Business of Software conferences, and at many of them Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot, was one of the speakers. In several of his talks, he would put a yellow smiley face up on the screen, and show how that particular metric is what they tracked the most and closest: how happy their customers were. “Delight the customer” is what he would constantly say.
That’s what we are trying to do within XForms Cx by using these subtle little features.
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