It’s official—Alpine’s new STITCHER software has the industry buzzing—and even a brief examination reveals why
Preparing construction component projects for bidding and ultimately for scheduling and production can be difficult, time-consuming, and subject to input errors, mid-work client alterations, demanding time schedules, and much more. Alpine’s STITCHER software has been developed to reduce the impact and greatly limit these problems. STITCHER quickly converts two-dimensional input into three-dimensional building information models that enable direct plan comparisons to identify any contradictions, resolve discrepancies, and maximize accuracy.
Alpine has invested in the development of a software tool that simplifies and establishes production parameters early on to streamline the process and identify and correct inconsistencies before they become a problem. Duncan Frost, Senior Product Manager, observed “We’re very proud of STITCHER. No other software has tackled job challenges in the way Alpine has. It will provide significant value to those manufacturers who utilize it.”
STITCHER has aced its initial trials and the results are clear: better accuracy, more confidence in results, reduction in back charges and rework, greater efficiency from personnel, and faster project turn-around—all with fast and intuitive staff training.
Colten Sickler is an employee of Hines Supply in Kirkland, Illinois and he is one of the first people in the building components industry to be trained in the use of Alpine’s STITCHER software. He has prepared panel bids both before and after the introduction of STITCHER and has the on-the-job experience to evaluate the new features. Hines is a top manufacturer of custom roof and floor truss packages in Northern Illinois. They have the capabilities to provide top quality custom wall panels as well at their 25,000 square foot facility. Colten agreed to share details of his experience with this unique new tool.
Q: Has STITCHER increased the speed of your work?
CS: “As I became more adept at using STITCHER, my productivity grew and grew. I’m very pleased by my improvement and I’m certain my bosses are too. I would estimate that STITCHER has delivered about a 50% savings in my time on every project.”
Q: Can you cite examples?
CS: “A great advantage for me is the ability to easily check for duplicate designs and skip redundant work. If we did a task before, we needn’t repeat the process. We just access the prior sequence and apply it. Checking for and using duplicate designs minimizes repetitive, unnecessary work and is a real time-saver.
“It is also far easier to update designs. For example, a layout may be flipped left to right for a mirrored application very easily. And STITCHER’s vignette feature lets you add options and recalculate estimates quickly. At one time, adding specialized up-grades to an original plan was time-consuming, now it’s a simple drop-in. STITCHER (on one project) just saved me one, maybe even two hours!”
Q: How has project accuracy been impacted?
CS: “This software features a remarkable accuracy. And the occasional architect/engineer input error is quickly identified and corrected with STITCHER’s comparative capabilities. The result is agreement in the final plan to avoid mis-matched elements and improper openings.”
Q: Are input errors common?
CS: “Although architectural input to Hines Supply is generally precise, sometimes views and details don’t agree. Without STITCHER’s unique comparison capabilities, errors on the imported documents could slip by. A mistake of that type, say of 6 inches, on a complex plan could potentially require a whole new preparation and bid that would cost us many hours in the long run.”
Q: How else does STITCHER improve performance and save time?
CS: “Stacking architectural levels is made easy and any discrepancies are clearly highlighted. That means few, if any, rejected components. And greater accuracy is appreciated by our customers.
“The new STITCHER features not only provide greater accuracy, but they also take the ‘busy work’ out of the process. Recently, I only needed one hour to complete my work on a 100-room retirement home, because STITCHER not only speeds collection of plan data, but it also recognizes and auto-populates repeated features. This reduces my time by as much as, and sometimes more than, 50% from ‘traditional’ performance.”
Note: An internal Hines comparison test of actual “traditional” time vs. STITCHER time spent on a project shows a 25% efficiency gain with STITCHER. The results demonstrated that STITCHER completed 19.8 square feet of a project for every one foot done “traditionally.”
Q: And what about value to the customer?
CS: “STITCHER with IntelliVIEW helps visualize and evaluate panels and trusses with 3D imagery and makes assembly accurate and coordinated. These features deliver faster turn-around on quotes, more accuracy, and ways to minimize costs to meet new customer cost reduction goals.”
Q: How about overall value to the company?
CS: “Prior to STITCHER, we couldn’t keep up with the desired work schedule. Now, we can handle a far higher flow of work than before and our output is much larger. In addition, the average back-charge is based on costs of corrections. Lately, we’ve been able to minimize or even eliminate back-charges. Also, a more accurate estimate means less chance of excess inventory being sent to job sites. Overall, STITCHER provides speedy completion of projects without sacrificing quality and catches any inconsistencies before they become costly.”
Q: Is there greater confidence with each project?
CS: “At one time, highly specialized wall panels were a source of trouble. Because they were difficult to define, often their costs were inadvertently low-balled due to scheduling pressures. I can now easily address ‘specials’ and prepare an accurate bid without losses due to undercharging.”
Q: Was STITCHER hard to learn?
CS: “Training has been intuitive and not difficult at all. Our Alpine trainer was very good at responding to questions with clear answers and also providing valuable short-cut procedures. STITCHER is easy to use and easy to understand. Any mis-step only requires a simple back-up to go again.”
Q: Have client expectations grown?
CS: “Yes, because we make our dates with consistency and we now have many more jobs pending due to demonstrated responsiveness.”
Q: Finally, what is your overall opinion of STITCHER?
CS: “Everybody should use STITCHER. Alpine has been my trusted partner throughout my introduction to this intuitive software. Being relatively new to the bidding process, it helped me to learn and to find errors quickly, building my confidence. STITCHER helps to equalize the experienced and inexperienced making monstrous jobs digestible.”
STITCHER is a unique software tool developed by Alpine to free component estimators and designers from repetitive tasks and to speed both bidding and production phases of projects. Integral functions identify and compare related visual components and automatically correct drawing discrepancies for improved accuracy. STITCHER also incorporates time-saving features for repeating approved detail elements and adding late-stage options when required.
The final word: STITCHER makes a good designer even better.