PlanGrid is a cloud-based construction management system (with an offline mode) that provides stakeholders with access to all project information from wherever they are. That's because PlanGrid supports Android, iOS, and Windows. From plans and specifications to punch lists, documents, and photos, PlanGrid is a project's single source of truth. Team members can instantly distribute plans and documents that are automatically hyperlinked, versioned-in-order, and searchable. With accurate data collected during construction, it's easy to turn over a digital as-built for facilities management and operations. Autodesk acquired PlanGrid in December 2018.
"The goal of PlanGrid is to avoid work being ripped out of the ground because it was done using obsolete information."
— Laura Serena, PlanGrid Customer Success Manager
Since I recently relocated from California to Cypress (northern Houston), when I saw that PlanGrid was conducting a conference on April 11 in my new neck of the woods, I decided to attend. Not knowing much about PlanGrid in advance, I learned a lot:
- Participants are invited to projects. They download it and access it from their mobile devices. This allows them to work offline and results in a speedy user experience when working with sheets.
- In Sheet View, there is a markup toolbar. Markups automatically carry to a new revision if a sheet changed while the user was doing the markup.
- Sheet Filters allow users to find sheets that have attributes like “has markups.”
- Project tags help customers group sheets so they can easily be filtered.
- From the Grid View, users can do a full drawing search for things like “door.”
- PlanGrid automatically scans and creates hyperlinks to detail callouts when the source files are uploaded.
- PlanGrid has the notion of sheets and documents. Versioning is done by sheet name and issuance date.
- PlanGrid has a Document Log. Companies are encouraged to have their own folder structure that they use consistently across projects. Documents are read-only. On the other hand, sheets can be marked up.
- PlanGrid is priced based on sheet count. A 500 sheet count project is possible. An iPad with at least 32GB is recommended.
- Links from sheets to documents appear as paper clips.
- In a Sheet View, a user can view a previous version of a file by scrolling through the versions. Versions can be compared.
- The Progress Photo tool lets users document a project’s progress by taking photos and placing links to them in Sheets.
- Users can find sheets that they have marked up by filtering for Personal Markups. Personal Markups are only seen by the user who created the markup. Published Markups can be seen by everyone. Published Markups are darker in color (darker red) than Personal Markups.
- Markups are done locally on the device and sync’d later to export them to the project.
- PlanGrid has Task Tracking for things like punch lists, safety hazards, etc.
- A person is assigned a task. It is open. When accomplished, changed to in-review. The person who opened the task then closes it.
- Field Reports provides an electronic way to handle all of the paperwork typically associated with projects.
- A good practice is to sync in the morning and again in the afternoon. Mobile devices are offline. Computers automatically sync every 10 minutes.
The conference was a fine introduction to PlanGrid's basic operation. There was a separate session for advanced users.
Since the primary source material for PlanGrid is currently PDF, I can understand how its new Revit integration will eliminate a lot of overhead:
- 2D is a natural method for construction team members to navigate project information.
- When publishing to a project using PlanGrid's Revit plug-in, metadata, as well as linkages between 2D and 3D, are captured.
- The linkage allows PlanGrid users to continue to navigate in 2D (like they always have) but click a "View in 3D" button and see the Revit model from the same vantage point that was in the 2D view.
- The metadata provides useful information can be viewed within PlanGrid rather than having to rely on external sources.
In addition to presentations from PlanGrid, the conference featured PlanGrid customers who shared their positive experiences working with PlanGrid:
"Does this sound familiar? “To hell with technology, I’m retiring soon.” PlanGrid training helps even the harshest skeptics come aboard.
— Shannon Davis, Learning & Development Lead, Marek Brothers
“Though technology (e.g., drones, scanners) can be helpful in our ROI, at the end of the day, the job foreman makes or breaks the project.” Our use of PlanGrid helps our foremen.
— Kim Arrant, VP of Business Transformation, APTIM
"When my guys can see 3D and get attributes, they’re going to love it."
— Randee Herron, SVP of New Construction, TDIndustries
"Workers used to have to walk about a mile or go down 20 floors to retrieve plans. Now they ask, can’t you just put that on PlanGrid?"
— Morgan Fountain, Process Manager, TDIndustries
The PlanGrid Houston Road Show was held at Minute Maid Park where the Houston Astros play. To cap off the day-long event, we were able to go down to the field to see what the ballpark looks like from a batter's perspective. We even got to sit in the dugout:
Knocking it out of the park is alive in the lab.