Commenter Role and Company – Customer Appreciation Summer Week 8

Week 8 of our Customer Appreciation Summer adds the company and role of the author to comments, both on the web and in PDFs.

Comments now show the author’s role and company.

You’ll also see this information in the next release of the iOS app later this week. That update also features the “Include Asset Name” option when creating checklists and tests that we first rolled out on the web last week.

In addition, we’ve improved the presentation of field observation comments in the PDF to make it clearer which comment photos belong to.

It’s now clearer which comment photos belong to.

As a reminder, all of these features are based on feature requests at feedback.cxalloy.com. Although we focus on smaller features during the Customer Appreciation Summer, we are also working on many of the bigger requests. If you’ve added a request, made a comment, or just voted on the ones you want, thank you – your input there has been incredibly valuable to us.

We hope you like these updates and we’ll see you next week!

Create Checklists and Tests Without Asset Names – Customer Appreciation Summer Week 7

Week 7 of our Customer Appreciation Summer is all about checklists and tests. First, we’ve added a new option when creating checklists and tests: “Include Asset Name”. By unchecking this option you can create checklists and tests without their associated asset name, which was not possible before.

The new “Include Asset Name” option gives you more control

We’ve also made two other improvements to the options step – you can now change a name right away without having to click “Customize” first, and we show an example of the name the checklists or tests will be given.

In another improvement to checklists and tests you can now see the percentage of Yes, No, and N/A answers in the PDFs right next to the colored progress bar.

You don’t need to guess at the percentages anymore

We hope you like these updates. See you next week!

Navigation Improvements – Customer Appreciation Summer Week 6

We’ve improved a couple of small navigation bits for week 6 of our Customer Appreciation Summer. Though small these feature requests had a lot of customer votes behind them!

  • After creating a new checklist or test template within a folder, you will be taken to the newly created template inside that folder.
  • When adding lines to a checklist or test the “Add a line” form will remain so that you can quickly add multiple lines.

We hope you like these improvements. See you next week!

Delete Projects – Customer Appreciation Summer Week 5

The latest Customer Appreciation Summer release adds project deletion. You can now finally get rid of that project you renamed “ZZZZ Don’t Use”! 😀

You can now delete projects

Deleting a project is as simple as clicking the “Delete” button on an account’s Projects page. It’s also available as an option in the “Actions” dropdown on the Overview page and on the General tab of the Project Settings page.

A project must be archived before it can be deleted, and only account admins can delete a project. Like most actions in CxAlloy TQ that modify data, you can undo a project deletion immediately after deleting it. If it takes you a day or two to realize that a project should not have been deleted, you can contact support and we can restore it for you.

Now your project list can look just a little cleaner. We hope you like it. See you next week!

Pull Template Changes – Customer Appreciation Summer Week 4

This week we’ve got something really great – a major expansion of the Push Changes feature we rolled out late last year.

Push Changes allows you make edits to a template, such as adding lines or editing questions, and then “push” those changes to the checklists or tests that were created from that template.

With this release you can now also “pull” changes, meaning you can bring a checklist or test up to date with its associated template directly from the checklist or test. You can even select multiple checklists or tests in a list and “pull” changes to all of them.

Even better, we now show information about the associated template directly on the checklist and test page. This makes it easy to know when a checklist or test differs from the template it was created from and also provides a convenient link to that template.

You can now easily see whether a checklist or test differs from its associated template.

Prior to this release we also expanded push changes to allow pushing from account templates. The sum of these releases is a complete picture for pushing and pulling changes, allowing a checklist or test to be brought up to date with its associated template, regardless of whether it’s a project or account template and whether you are starting from the template or the checklist or test.

We hope you like this feature. See you next week!

One note: pushing and pulling changes are limited to upgraded accounts.

The Business of Commissioning Webinar Questions and Answers

As part of our webinar series Steve Alschuler, principal at Bath Commissioning, gave a fantastic presentation on best practices for managing a profitable and successful commissioning business. If you didn’t catch it, watch it on-demand on our resources page.

A good presentation generates a lot of questions and unfortunately we did not have time to answer all of the questions during the webinar. Steve graciously agreed to answer them after the fact and they are presented here.

Rules of Thumb

Q: How many folks are typically on a Cx team for a project?

Steve: One main project manager/technician does 90% of the work, if there are design reviews our senior Mechanical and Electrical Engineers do the reviews which is a very small part of the project, and then 5% of the project for me as the principal to supervise, review contracts, billings, collections, etc.

Q: Do you have any rules of thumb for commissioning fee estimating for owners? Per square foot? Percentage of construction cost?

Steve: Yes, I tell people for projects from 20,000 sq. ft. to 100,000 sq. ft. Cx should cost between $1/sq. ft. (low boundary) and 1% construction cost (high boundary).

Q: What industries are you seeing the highest need for Cx? Data Centers? Healthcare?

Steve: Higher Ed and Healthcare consistently seem to be our biggest and best proejcts.

Functional Performance Testing

Q: How much emphasis do you put on gaining remote access to a projects BAS? If this is something that your firm does regularly, how beneficial is it?

Steve: Not much, we always perform functional testing “on site” with the controls contractor present at the end of construction. There is risk in manipulating the control system by yourself without the BAS contractor present, if something goes wrong you would be responsible.

Q: When it comes to Functional Performance Testing in a retro-commissioning project, do you request the BAS contractor to execute the tests while you observe or do you commandeer the BAS and peform the testing yourselves?

Steve: For us it depends more on which staff we are using and how comfortable they are manipulating the controls. Generally speaking, it is a hybrid where the BAS gives us access and “shows us how to manipulate things” and then we do 80% of the work without them, and maybe 20% of the work with them.

Q: Healthcare requires confidence testing and compliance documentation that every device has been tested. How does commissioning interface with this requirement?

Steve: We test 100% of the systems we commission (generally) which is all documented in our Functional Tests which is provided to our client as an appendix to our final report at the end of the project.

Q: How often do you perform FPT before vs. after building handover? Only re-testing?

Steve: I would guess half the time before and half the time after they take occupancy. I don’t think we ever fully wrap up all testing prior to occupancy, although that would be ideal.

Q: In respect to getting paid for retesting (due to false promises, poor contractor coordination, pencil-whipped checklists, equipment failures, etc.) have you ever worked it into the Cx specs so it is the contractors liability and not the Owner’s? This goes back to your federal example.

Steve: Yes, our specs do say “the responsible contractor will be backcharged for additional testing…”

Q: Are functional tests in CxAlloy generic? Are the functional test extracted from the controls submittal?

Steve: Our functional tests are almost never generic, we write them project-specific based on the “approved” controls submittal.

[Editor’s Note: CxAlloy TQ provides ~15 test templates for common equipment such as AHUs, chillers, boilers, etc. but most customers quickly outgrow those and create or import their own tests.]

Responsibilities and Roles

Q: As subcontractors, do we have leverage if the Engineer approves a controls submittal, but the approved submittal deviates from the sequence of operation in the spec?

Steve: My opinion is that the last item approved takes precedence, so if the engineer approves a controls contractor’s submittal, that occurs after the plans and specs are issued for construction and the submittal supersedes the information in the project plans and specs, and that is how I believe it should be.

Q: You said it’s unnecessary for the commissioning professional to be present at startup. My experience in NYC is that attending them can be beneficial for different reasons: 1. Expose young engineers to what is done in the field and how it is supposed to be done. 2. Make sure that installers are not cutting corners. Some teams might falsify the results of the pressure testing or evacuation testing for VRF systems – if a CxA is present during the procedure, I think it can add to the quality assurance process that Cx is.

Steve: I agree, it can be beneficial, and we often have staff attend, but it is not a “requirement” of the CxA to be there.

Q: Many times the startup day is the only time that a startup technician will be on site. After that it becomes very challenging to get them back on site. Sometimes the CxA is able to run some functional tests but there are other tests that the manufacturer’s rep is best prepared for it and the tests are crucial to confirm the proper operation of a system. How do you handle that if you aren’t present for startup?

Steve: Yep, that’s why it is important to get good commissioning specs included in the project REQUIRING the Start-Up technician to be available whenever you need him. If he is only on site one day, you are going to waste a lot of time sitting around while he fixes things. He needs to spend a day getting it working, and the COME BACK to demonstrate that it is working.

Q: If the Engineer does not address the Cx concern should that item be marked as a closed item?

Steve: No, make the engineer address it by telling the owner not to pay him or her until it is at least acknowledged. The engineer does not have to take the Cx Provider recommendations, but we require that they at least “acknowledge” the comments we provide.

Q: The question of contractors never seeing any design issues came up. In my experience another reason is the designers never want the dirty laundry shown.

Steve: CxAlloy separated the design “dirty laundry” from the construction “dirty laundry” so the contractors do not know the dialog that has taken place among the owner/Cx Provider/Design Team.

[Editor’s Note: CxAlloy TQ projects have two separate issue logs, Design and Construction. Viewing permissions can be set on each independently and often contractors are not given view access to the design issues log.]

Q: What are your biggest heartaches dealing with the GC/EC/MC?

Steve:
• Number 1, Getting Checklists Completed.
• Number 2, Getting Checklists Completed.
• Number 3, Getting Checklists Completed

Leveraging CxAlloy TQ

Q: Do you use static verification forms to verify the peformance data of each piece of equipment (make, model, serial#, capacity, etc.)?

Steve: This information is gathered by the contractor as part of our construction checklist.

[Editor’s Note: CxAlloy TQ provides a lot of functionality targeted at exactly this, including the ability to scan equipment labels for serial number, model number, etc.]

Q: Do you have checklists that you follow for O&M reviews, TAB reviews, etc. in CxAlloy?

Steve: No we do not, probably should though – good idea.

Q: Does your Cx Final Report typically contain a Systems Manual?

Steve: They used to be separate documents for the longest time, but recently we converged them into a single document. We always do a final report, we don’t always do a Systems Manual, depends if it was listed in the original scope of work for Cx.

Q: We use this software for commissioning, as well as for annual inspections. Is this common practice?

Steve: Yes, we do too.

Q: Please address your experience of CxAlloy for owners use. Is CxAlloy used for retro-commissioning?

Steve: CxAlloy has a monthly cost and I think that might not be ideal for most owners unless they are large and well-funded. We use CxAlloy for both commissioning and retro-commissioning projects but it is designed and optimized for new construction commissioning more than retro.

Q: The project you showed had 4,711 questions for the contractors on the pre-functional checklist! How big was the project?

Steve: It was an elementary school, approximately 60,000 square feet.

[Editor’s Note: The 4,711 questions was the total number of questions across all checklists.]

Q: How can we get help with those CxAlloy customizations?

Steve: I can provide independent consulting services to help set you up with CxAlloy in a way that mimics our process.

Contact Info:
Steve Alschuler PE CCP
Principal
salschuler@bathgroup.com
CO: 8506 Rogers Loop Arvada, CO 80007
NM: 5345 Wyoming Blvd NE Suite 201 Albuquerque, NM 87109
TX: 4110 Rio Bravo Suite 102 El Paso, Texas 79902
(303) 955-5616 or (505) 362-9311 or (915) 313-7200
www.bathgroup.com

[Editor’s Note: For technical help on how to customize project settings you can watch our training videos, visit our support documentation, or email support@cxalloy.com]

Capture Equipment Data without Typing a Single Letter

Today we have an incredible new feature for you – the ability to scan equipment labels and record equipment data, without typing a single character. Simply take a photo of equipment labels with your iPhone or iPad camera, then tap the recognized text to record instant, accurate data.

The feature may not always work perfectly, so we have initially released it as an “Experimental Feature”. To enable it, go to the Projects screen in the app, then tap the gear icon ⚙, then Advanced, then toggle on Experimental Features.

Once enabled you’ll see a new Label button at the top right when answering a checklist or test line with a linked attribute. There will also be a new Tag button in the search field that will let you quickly scan a nameplate or label for an equipment tag. We’ve prepared a short video that shows you how these features work.

Multiple Photos in Field Observation Comments – Customer Appreciation Summer

If the number of requests on our feedback forum is to be believed, many of you are going to be happy with our latest release.

You can now upload as many photos to a field observation comment as you want. Woo-hoo! We’ve rolled this out both on the web and in version 3.14 of the iOS app.

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Comment Reordering

Earlier this year we added comment reordering for field observation comments, but there was no obvious indicator that it was possible. In this update we’ve made it clearer that comments can be reordered with an always-visible drag handle. We’ve also made several other improvements to the reordering experience.

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Dropping Support for iOS 10 and iOS 11

Also, in order to better support the upcoming iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, as well as some big features we have in the works, we will be dropping support for older versions of iOS. Version 3.14 will be the last major version of the app that supports iOS 10 and iOS 11. Devices running these older versions should update to iOS 12. iOS 12 is compatible with the devices listed on Apple’s site (note, any device that can run iOS 11 can run iOS 12). If you are using an older device that is not listed, you can continue running the app as it exists currently, it just will no longer receive updates past 3.14. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact support.

Task Comment Editing – Customer Appreciation Summer

I’ve got to be up front with you all – this week’s feature should have been there from the beginning. Being able to edit a comment you made is pretty important after all. What if you made a typo? Or you forgot to include something important? You could always delete it and re-add it with the needed changes, but let’s be real, you should just be able to edit it.

Well, now you can. Huzzah!

See you next week!

Customer Appreciation Summer Kicks Off with a New File Viewer

For our first release of this year’s customer appreciation summer we have rolled out a brand-new file viewer with tons of new features.

  • Zoom!
  • Search!
  • Seamless scrolling
  • Select and copy text
  • Table of contents/bookmarks view
  • Page thumbnails

To see the new viewer, simply click on a file that you’ve uploaded to an item or to the Project Files section.

In addition, we’ve made a small improvement to project navigation. In the past you could see a list of all files attached to items (issues, equipment, checklists, etc.) but to get to the list you had to know to click on this obscure sentence at the bottom of the Project Files page:

image

Not exactly obvious, was it? (well, without the red arrows, that is)

We’ve now made this much more obvious by adding an “Attached Files” option in the project menu. We think that makes a lot more sense!

One more thing – the new file viewer is part of a larger effort to allow you to annotate your images and PDFs directly in CxAlloy TQ. That will be coming a little later, but I hope you’ll look forward to it. See you next week!