A Paperless Commissioning Process – Is it Effective?

Posted by Katie Mason on Jan 29, 2014 5:00:00 AM

Here at Cx Associates, we are actively searching for ways to use less paper in our commissioning process and around the office. When it is feasible, I try to complete any and all reading, researching, or note taking directly on my computer. My pursuit of going paperless is never entirely successful, but utilizing a tablet in the field has been helpful. Rather than print out drawings, specifications and other project documents, I generally download everything to one of the office iPads prior to my visit. If you haven’t already, check out my colleague Ben Fowler’s blog posts about popular apps we use on a regular basis. There are specific apps designed for reading and marking up PDF documents, as well as many others that can make a paperless approach more appealing.

Bob Braden plots the future of the paperless o... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were recently at a construction site where a construction manager was attempting a paperless construction process. They chose to set-up an Apple TV in their job trailer to make it easier for images from iPads and laptops to be projected to a large wall-mounted TV. The company was also utilizing iPads in the field rather than printing out project documents. Contractors were still using their own set of printed drawings, but this approach was promoting a new trend and taking another step towards an even greener construction process.

Commissioning Software

We are always looking for new ways to improve our overall commissioning process for all members of the design and construction teams. With a recent project, we tested a cloud-based software product called CxAlloy, which has a feature that is geared to offering commissioning services. This particular software was chosen because the documents and overall process were closely aligned to our own.

English: Cloud Computing Image (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than delivering a binder full of commissioning documents to the job site, our checkout and testing documentation was uploaded to the project account online. All team members were provided with access to the project. When any sort of document is updated, the changes are instantly updated to the account using a laptop or a tablet and an optional notification can be sent to the appropriate team members. This method eliminates the use of paper when a team member is working through their commissioning documents. The program even allows the information to be stored locally to a tablet if wireless connection isn’t available. Once it is connected to a network, syncing the information to the account is very easy and fast. This software offers many options for construction management as well. I strongly recommend checking out their website for more information.

The Importance of Buy-In From All Team Members

Despite CxAlloy looking like a promising paperless solution, unfortunately, this approach was not as successful as we hoped for our particular project. As expected, there was a learning curve to using a new product, for both us and the contractors. Although the actual checksheets were easy to use once you were logged into the account, it was difficult to get the onsite contractors engaged and comfortable with using the software. CxAlloy was fairly intuitive and easy to navigate; therefore we hope to give this particular solution another try on a future project, with the expectation of changing our overall training approach for the contractors and ensuring that they will successfully use it.

What paperless commissioning solutions have you tried? Which were helpful? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below.

Topics: Building Cx & Design Review, Building Performance & Technology

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