Project Design: The value of revisiting elevations

A while back we changed the way we were delivering wiring plan drawings to our clients. This followed on from developing our own ANSI J-Standard-710 symbol set which built on the benefits of the J-Standard symbols included in our design package.

I have written about this change previously in my article exploring the J-Standard in use.

Part of the reason for making this change was to have a set of symbols that would make drawing production more efficient. In an effort to aid this efficiency we decided to change the way we were drawing and delivering equipment elevations, by including what we called socket elevations on the plans themselves. At the time this seemed like a big step forward in terms of efficiency as before in each project we would draw all the wall mounted equipment out across numerous pages of equipment elevations. This can be seen in Figure 1 (see above).

These new wiring plans with socket elevations drawings were put into use around the close of 2015 and were much more efficient for us to produce. We no longer had to meticulously draw every bit of wall mounted equipment in each project, all we did now was update the socket elevations to match what was required for the project in hand. You can see an example of this in Figure 2 (below).

FIGURE 2 socket elevations drawing part 1

FIGURE 2 socket elevations drawing part 2

“…by the middle of 2016 one of our best clients told us that these new drawings felt like we had taken a step backwards compared to the drawings we were delivering previously.”

FIGURE 2 showing socket elevations in the home part 3

However by the middle of 2016 one of our best clients told us that these new drawings felt like we had taken a step backwards compared to the drawings we were delivering previously. Whereas full elevations of each piece of wall mounted equipment were included before, now we just had the abbreviated and simplified socket elevations. The client was telling us that these socket elevations where the root cause of confusion and errors on site. The confusion was being caused by the electricians getting mixed up by what they saw as duplicate drawing legends. The errors were thought to be caused by a lack of information in the abbreviated socket elevations. As we were only showing the heights of the sockets as a number and not as a physical dimension it was felt that we were leaving things open to interpretation. Also as we were no longer physically showing the TV outline and bracket, the sockets were ending up in the wrong places on the walls which was leading to problems during installation. Clearly this was not something we could allow to continue, an urgent rethink was needed.

Going back to the drawing board

We looked carefully at the drawings we were producing prior to making this change, with all the wall mounted equipment drawn out across separate pages and compared them with our current drawings, with just the socket elevations. The difference was quite clear and our client was right, what we were doing prior to this change was much more detailed and gave more of a blueprint that could then be used on site to ensure a clear instruction of what was required had been delivered.

Having recognised we needed to go back to full elevations we now had to work out how we could make them quick easy and efficient to produce. We realised that something we had learned when we introduced the new socket elevations could be applied. We decided to build up a library of CAD elevations that could then be quickly and easily inserted into project drawings. This would minimise the time spent drawing elevations for every project, as once we had a good library of elevations we would be able to use them over and over again as required for each project.

You can see an example of what we ended up with in Figure 3 (below).

FIGURE3 final design of elevations in the home

Since reintroducing full elevations we have been developing our library. We add more and more detailed information to the drawings in the library as we get feedback from clients on what works or is required on site. So now we have the best of both worlds, all the detail and information we had originally, with the efficiency of being able to re-use drawings from the library across multiple projects, it’s a win-win all round.

Keith Jones studied Product Design at Central St. Martins where he graduated in 1996. Since then Keith worked in numerous high end audio outlets, culminating in owning and running his own AV installation company from 2001-2008. After a career break he started Jones designs in August 2009 which has recently morphed into a Ltd. company called designflow with his business partner Kelly Ashforth. Designflow aims at increasing awareness of design in AV and help installers win jobs and create proper documentation for them.