Beat the Competition With Keystrokes

By James Sexton, product manager for Quest Estimating Solutions, Maxwell Systems | September 28, 2010

Weber Construction is a heavy construction company specializing in excavating, site development, paving, and underground utilities. For more than a decade, the Woodland, CA, company has grown to 25 full-time employees. With the help of the advanced automated takeoff and estimating software and advance earth-measuring solutions from Maxwell Systems, Weber Construction now competes for (and wins) top projects in the region.

A Bumpy Road

Not long after being in business, Weber Construction recognized how disorganized their data was. Their employees were using different software to input data, resulting in multiple entries and lost productivity. In addition, this haphazard system made it difficult to keep track of critical data, and employees wasted valuable time searching for information.

Inaccuracies were a daily dilemma, as estimators measured cut and fill quantities with calculators and spreadsheets. With this method, and lacking a comprehensive view of all jobs, Weber Construction was falling short of its profit potential, which further hindered the company’s ability to compete against already-established contractors.

However, Weber Construction took the situation as an opportunity to make strategic decisions with an eye on the future. They planned for success by investing in advanced, automated takeoff and estimating software.

Company Takes Off With Software to Build On

Weber Construction discovered Maxwell Systems™ Quest Estimator™ and Quest Earthwork™, and felt that it would meet their needs. Estimator Bryan Weber explains: “We needed to improve efficiencies and accuracy – to us, getting the right numbers quickly is everything. Maxwell Systems Quest solutions were a fit for our type of work. The software also has great visuals, is easy to use, and their technical support was really helpful.”

The key to an accurate estimate lies in a detailed takeoff. Quest Estimator can save contractors thousands of dollars by allowing estimators to upload and digitize plans, then use 3-D visual assemblies to gain a clear and complete view of the project and a graphical checklist of all materials and quantities needed. This makes it easy to identify any mistakes, oversights and costs before a bid is submitted.

Prior to using Maxwell Systems Quest solutions, the estimating department could spend weeks preparing a takeoff and estimating projects manually. Now, they can complete a takeoff within an hour and submit a complete bid within a week. That means more bids, more wins, more profits. Plus different people on the team can look at the same detailed information in real time; for example, one estimator can work on underground details while another identifies sitework duties. Everyone can see what it takes to complete the job on time and on budget. Bryan adds: “My favorite features in the system are working with a clean, detailed database where I can quickly drag and drop items needed on a job, and also the takeoff libraries make life much easier.”

Investing In Innovation

The company continues to use additional features that expand how they use the software. Bryan explains: “We’ve just begun to use the latest version of Quest Earthwork that incorporates machine control. This is a critical part of heavy construction jobs and by using Quest we are better able to control the jobs and exceed our production rates. Before using this software, we had to read stakes, record information, and then stop and tell the workers on site. Now, we can easily export the data and send it directly to our crew in the field. We can move a lot more efficiently to get the job done, which keeps labor costs down and allows us to complete more jobs in less time. That’s a big competitive edge.”

Weber Construction experienced a recent cost-saving scenario using Quest Earthwork with machine control while working on a landfill job in the Sacramento area. Bryan adds: “We were able to bring in the elevated file to the system, which sped production; we easily recognized we needed to bring in clay to level the site. Not only did we get the job done right, we saved a lot of time and money that day. We would never go back to doing things the old way!”

Realizing the value of using Maxwell Systems’ software, Weber Construction also purchased American Contractor™, Maxwell Systems’ business management software solution that delivers takeoff and estimating, job cost accounting, project management, and other key business capabilities. They are way beyond being the new contractor in town; Weber Construction has successfully implemented state-of-the-art construction software solutions to maximize productivity and profitability, without having to “reinvent the wheel.” It was a business decision that required an investment, but has proved to be the catalyst in Weber Construction’s success.

Best Kept Secret

Implementing Maxwell Systems Quest software was a solid investment for Weber Construction, but it’s a secret Bryan would like to keep. “I would definitely recommend construction management software to other contractors, so long as they’re not working in my region. I think this is a huge competitive advantage for us and helps us compete with the big guys. In addition, it’s about job security; I can bid more in less time with awesome accuracy – and control those numbers so I know where we stand at all times.”

Editor’s Note: This article illustrates the benefits of construction management software and how it can enhance your business capabilities. This does not constitute an endorsement of this particular system or any system for that matter. The information is presented to keep you informed on recent developments in this market.


Machine Control

With the needs of contractors such as Weber Construction in mind, Maxwell Systems developed Quest Earthwork to integrate directly with machine control systems. This is done by exporting data in the required file formats, including TTM (Trimble), TN3 (Topcon) and AutoCAD exports for triangulation, areas and contours.

Once an estimator has determined cut-and-fill quantities and proposed grades, this information can be converted to a format compatible for machine control. Data can be adjusted in the machine control manufacturer’s software or AutoCAD, then saved to a portable storage device and sent directly to the equipment operator on site. This compatibility and seamless integration greatly reduces the time needed to complete a task.

The equipment operator then inserts the data into the onboard computer. The equipment takes its commands directly from the machine control program, ensuring the project is completed accurately and efficiently.