When it rains it pours. Expanding capacity in your engineering department may mean temporary draftsmen in-house or outsourcing to a engineering firm. Outsourcing can be a great to save money on extra workstations, software and overhead. But it can become a problem if the process is not handled correctly.
Prepare to outsource your shop drawings
When it comes to subcontract CAD Technologists you don't want amateurs. You don't have time to train them. Shops spend a lot of time and energy developing business relationships with hardware vendors, lumber suppliers, etc. Why wouldn't you do the same with a drafting/design service? Call ahead of time and assess the capabilities of CAD firms that specialize in the construction drawings you require.
Create CAD Standards
You may want your drawing border and logo to look a certain way. Or you can have your draftsman do it for you.
You should communicate your construction standards visually with sketches or standard details. Otherwise, you are asking the draftsperson to figure it out, which could cause conflicts later. They should also use the right software. For many industries this means AutoCAD, but you should find out the standard for your industry. Perhaps you need Skethup, Solidworks or Inventor. Millwork drawings for example usually demands AutoCAD.
Establish a schedule.
If a job takes two weeks, you'll want to set milestones for the CAD technologist to check in. Ask him or her to submit some smaller units first before submitting the larger ones to establish a rhythm of communication and settle expectations early on. Check-in half way and also shortly before the final deadline. There should be a buffer between the completion of shop drawings by the draftsperson and the actual shop drawing submittal date for the general contractor or designer so that there is time for corrections.
Be a good redliner
Your primary way of communicating corrections to your draftsperson is to markup their drawings and send them back. Traditionally this was done with a red pen. There are several options to do this digitally.
- A PDF editor with markup tools:
Option 1. If you're on windows 8, get Drawboard. Period.
Option 2. Get AutoDesk Design Review and NitroPDF (both Free) if you are not purchasing. This way you can open and markup CAD DWF drawings generated from AutoDesk (AutoCAD) software in DWF, but also use Nitro (similar to Foxit) to signing PDF contracts and drawings. The advantage of AutoDesk Design Review is that the DWF file size is very small, even for a large amount of pages. But it is better not to use it to open PDFs because it will (ironically) increase the PDF file size.
- You should use digital pen to markup. It's faster.
- Ipad, Android tablet, Microsoft surface.
These tablets have cheaper PDF markup software. The Microsoft Surface Tablet includes a very nice PDF editor.
- Or get a pen digitizer.
Tablets can get expensive. But a Huion digitizer is about 25 bucks. Use it to mark-up drawings on your desktop machine and sign documents. All of the PDF markup tools I have mentions will accept digitizer pens with their pencil tool.
- Sketch and scan
Lastly your cheapest option is to just print the drawing and mark it up by hand. Then scan the drawing sheets with your redlines with your smartphone. Use the genius scan app for iOS and Android.
Don't wait till the last minute
As soon as you receive the architectural start asking for estimates from your drafting provider, and give them a heads up on what may be coming to them. When the fabrication job has been awarded to you they will be more likely to put your job in priority.
Teknicad specializes in Shop drawings for Millwork, Ironwork, Stairs and stainless steel fabrication. And we would love to bid on your job.
Call Earl at:
1(888) 839-5956 (toll free)
We make shop drawings work.