BIM for Electrical Construction (see pages 28 & 29)

Electri Foundation Pursues BIM Research Project
(see 2 downloads on this web page)

What Should Owners Do About BIM?

Presentations from San Francisco Digital Design Breakfast Club (downloadable PDFs & videos)

Autodesk Revit MEP: BIM For MEP Engineering

Construction Issues

Bad weather masks job improvement

Green construction risks (from AGC)

How to Use Percentage-of-Completion Accounting

Integrated project delivery case studies (from AIA)

Electrical/Datacom Ideas

ENR blogger sees ‘renaissance’ coming for ECs

111 green code ideas in 341 pages

‘Tipping point’ for green building retrofit

VIDEO: Minnesota wind turbines won’t work in cold weather

VIDEO: President Obama visits D.C.-area electrical JATC

Training Dates

Standard training classes set for our Chandler, AZ offices are scheduled for April 14-16. & April 21-23. The next scheduled Advanced class in AZ (other than pre-conference March 15-16) -- is set for July.

An Advanced class in AZ is in July.

Standard class dates for Columbia, MD is April 21-23. Columbia will host an Advanced Class on July 15-16.

Don't overlook the Standard AND Advanced classes set for Tempe, AZ before the User's Conference -- March 15-16. See above!

Click here for the complete list of upcoming training classes including 2010 training dates

Training can be "suit-cased" to your facility. We can tailor our training to your needs. Ask us about customized training at your site!

Call to register for any of the above classes, including those in Maryland: 1-800-444-4890.

We've posted training dates, directions to our training facilities, and registration forms on our Web page. Click the "Education" button on our home page, or go directly to this link: Education


Visit the McCormick Website

A Major Service Change For

Key Data Vendor


The history of Trade Service – which dates back to the 1930s – is about data; key facts and valuable numbers that can make or break a business. While the world entered “the information economy” in perhaps the 1990s, this company seemingly had it scoped out decades earlier.

In 2009, it took new steps to bring electrical contractors more information, in even-more-attractive formats and services, than ever before. Thanks to the company’s TRA-SER SX and Supplier Xchange products, it has a firm grip on helping its customers get the information they want – faster, better, and easier.

“Back in 2007, we decided to take our TRA-SER platform and move it beyond the CDs we were sending,” recalled Tod Moore, Vice President of sales. “We launched TRA-SER SX, which supplies the same information via the Internet, in January 2009. And we also offer Supplier Xchange, which is the way we connect our contractors with their distributor partners.

“Now, contractors can get information from us electronically, and we can help them get faster information from their trading partners – so they can, quickly and easily, get more accurate prices in their bids.”

Essentially, TRA-SER SX took the company from shipping CDs (with updated pricing data) to subscribing contractors to providing that same information computer-to-computer via the Internet. Result: Updating pricing databases is faster and easier for subscribing contractors. Supplier Xchange, an accompanying feature within the product, allows contractors preparing bids to get prices directly from one or more of their local distributors.

All this is relevant at this moment not just because Trade Service is speaking at the McCormick Systems User’s Conference. Beyond that important mid-March appearance, the data vendor promises that more is coming – and that it will add more value for contractors as well.


McCormick runs with the change

McCormick Systems “now has a tighter interface with our products than ever before,” claimed John Henry, Director of Business Development for Trade Service. “One thing McCormick did was to leverage the relationship we’ve established with NECA."

“One thing we do differently now – which McCormick has put to work for its customers – involves NECA’s Manual of Labor Units. It’s available for full view inside of TRA-SER (through a separate subscription from NECA), and we’ve tagged the individual units. McCormick has put that to its customers’ advantage by pulling those labor units into its own database. Now, the contractor who subscribes to TRA-SER SX and is a McCormick user has an on-going way of tracking those labor rates."

“That’s a tremendous gain for the contractor, in terms of time and ease-of-use. Before, the McCormick user had to sit down with the Manual and figure out what had changed.”

Additionally, McCormick’s “hot link” between the product database each user of its system has in the computer and Trade Service’s repository of 2 million product items can come in handy. “If a McCormick user is doing an estimate and looking for an item that’s not in the McCormick database, they can now instantly query TRA-SER SX, and electronically pull it right into McCormick.” explained Henry.

SX progresses

Trade Service tracks use of the SX service, which is in its infancy; roughly 3,000 contractors are using it; there are 2,700 distributor locations involved as well. In October 2009, $121 million worth of bids were prepared using SX, a figure that rose to $171 million this past January, according to Moore.

“What we’re seeing is that the adoption rate is increasing by 100 to 200 contractor customers a month,” said Moore. “Within 12 months of launch, it is gaining a lot of steam."

“Our advantage – the ‘secret sauce’ that makes SX work for the contractors – is the product database we maintain. When a contractor is estimating and develops the list of materials to be used in that job (for example, 100 items), he sends that list out to one or more distributors. He expects to get prices for as many of those items as possible back. For those that come back without prices, there’s manual work involved."

“SX is typically providing an 80% to 90% match right now, which is better than services that were out there previously, and it’s entirely thanks to our database and our ability to automatically suggest viable substitutes for missing items by tapping into our database of over 200,000 product alternates. By working with the distributors and getting price files in here, and matching them up with our database, we already had in place what is necessary to make such a pricing match-up really work.”

There’s more coming

Moore and Henry said the Internet hook-up between the company and its contractor subscribers, upon which TRA-SER SX and Supplier Xchange capitalize, opens additional new vistas. “We see tremendous opportunities to develop and offer new products and new modules to the contractors,” Moore revealed. “We can build them right off of TRA-SER SX. We’re working on it now and, while we can’t be specific, there will be new releases coming later in 2010.”  

An example, perhaps? “Last year, we released a product called Trade Leads,” Henry offered. “It’s a feature within TRA-SER SX. A contractor can now get daily lead information on government-type projects in his area. We partnered with a respected source to funnel that information, electronically, via the Internet, to our customers.”

Pointing to what’s ahead, Moore adds: “Also, in the very near future, TRA-SER SX will provide contractors the means to electronically produce and communicate project submittals and even help streamline their procurement process.  That’s what we’re trying to do with TRA-SER SX on the Internet: provide the user with vital information tools they can use in their daily jobs, all in one spot.” 

That “one spot” is a company that began on its mission of providing data on paper in 1931 (and still does disseminate electrical product information on paper, strangely enough). Obviously, the electrical industry’s information future is, while exciting and fresh, still tightly linked with its past.

There's Still Time (But Not Much!)

See You March 17-20 in Tempe???


Please come to McCormick Systems’ 28th Annual User’s Conference – a proven benefit to our customers over almost three decades. We promise that you’ll come away RICHER. OK, we’re not going to put cash in your pocket! But you’ll learn something – if not from our instructors during the formal sessions, then from your fellow attendees (other contacting company owners, estimators, and project managers).


McCormick System's CAD Estimating works
with the latest verison of AutoCad 2010


Items posted in early January to
Health Care: Something To Think About

Not suitable for medical use - electrical safety testing under attack
. . . is one heck of a looooong article on the IAEI website. Among other quotes:

1. Can computer and non-certified equipment in hospitals kill patients?

2. What is leakage current and how does it directly affect the human body?

3. Why is certain equipment not suitable for medical use? 

Not counting the 17 references, the article is 5,650 words long (I kid you not). And yet: If you go anywhere near healthcare installations, or if you think you might ever be in a hospital, you certainly should read through this.

I am NOT paid by IAEI. To give you a flavor for what you would miss if you do not hit that link above and spend some time with this, here's the amazingly horrible-to-think-about lead on the piece:

- - - - -

You’re on the operating table, the surgery is almost over. The procedure has gone well. The doctors and nurses are walking in liquid on the floor covered with antiseptic, your blood, and other fluids.

As your doctor is making the final repairs, a nurse is at the computer typing in some data; then she turns to assist the doctor, steadying herself with one hand on the computer monitor.

As she touches the doctor, the faulty PC sends its stray current through both of them and directly into your heart. They feel almost nothing, but you are especially vulnerable and in a few seconds, it’s too late, the damage has been done.


. . . and while we're on the subject of medical-slash-electrical, CSE magazine posted a piece, 1,448 words + an illo -- Selective coordination of breakers in hospitals.

The first paragraph here:

Imagine you are in intensive care in a hospital and your breathing is being assisted by an electrically operated ventilator that is quietly humming next to your bed. Suddenly the humming ceases because the ventilator has stopped working, and you begin struggling for air.

The ventilator begins again for a few seconds—and then stops completely.

This frightening situation was reality for a number of patients at one hospital. This article describes a hospital power outage and discusses what could have been done to prevent it.

. . . which might lead you to ask, WHY THE HECK ARE ALL OF THESE STRANGERS TRYING TO SCARE THE DICKENS OUT OF ME? Is it Halloween or something?

The EC Biz In South Africa


"One of the greatest opportunities currently for electrical contractors to gain new business is to become familiar with the new technologies that conserve power in both the industrial and domestic sectors . . . "

. . . sound familiar? It's from the director of the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa
An interesting piece: "When the recession ends, the electrical contractors industry will still be faced with serious skills shortages." I believe that's going to happen here in the U.S., too. 

CHRIS GREAGER National director of the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa


What's Green -- And What Ain't

When you hold yourself up for praise, you also harvest a slew of rotten vegetables thrown in your direction. That's what has happened with the USGBC's LEED for Homes program, in an article -- Green home award winners flunk walkability test -- from USA Today.

The article quotes the Treehugger blog extensively. You may or might not empathize with the greenies, but I think what follows is not about sustainability, or attacking USGBC, etc. -- it is, instead, simple common sense:

Don't you think that, if we're going to highlight not just certified projects but award winners deemed to be the very best, we should select more of them in high-performing (or, jeez, just better than average) sites?  

One result is that the added environmental benefit of the residences' laudable green features will be offset by the environmental damage caused by the sites' automobile dependence, poor environment for walking, and relative distance from jobs, shops and services. 

Another result is that the public, the building industry, and policy makers will continue to be misled about how best to achieve true environmental performance in our built environment.

"Walkability" refers to the idea that if you have to drive everywhere to do whatever (including, even, exercise), your house ain't green.





149 W Boston
Chandler, AZ 85225
Toll Free (800) 444-4890
Phone (480) 831-8914   Fax (480) 820-2422