25% Savings in Time & Effort Using Excel VBA
Case Study Summary
Our client specializes in maximizing energy and water efficiency in commercial buildings. Their engineering process is complex and time intensive, and they needed a way to automate specific steps to save time and eliminate human error.
To solve this problem, we developed a tool that automates key steps in their engineering process. This tool saves a lot of time and helped eliminate human errors.
"I needed to re-build an automation tool that streamlines our engineering work. The previous method had limitations that made it difficult to build upon.
When I started, I was worried that I’d invest time and money with a developer that wasn’t excited about carrying the project forward. I went with Automational, and I got the complete opposite. Pete was clearly interested in the project, and it was great to see him enthusiastically meeting or exceeding each milestone along the way.
In addition, I really liked that Pete was enthusiastic about each step. He was also clear and concise about capturing the project requirements. Another factor was the simple fact that it worked each time.
The automation tool we’ve built cuts out tedious, error-prone manual work and reduces overall effort by 25% or more. I would estimate we save about 1 business day per month using the tool. Hopefully the increased speed will also help us increase this line of work and then savings could be huge.
If you’re on the fence, I would suggest at least reviewing the project and goals with Automational, and give them the chance to show you how they would accomplish it. In addition, you could carve off a small piece to start with, and I’m sure you’ll be giving them the whole pie soon after."
Greg Collins (Principal Engineer)
Our client specializes in maximizing energy and water efficiency in commercial buildings. To provide this type of service, they use several very complex modelling processes.
Their modelling processes use multiple engineering software tools. One significant challenge is that these software tools don't talk to each other, so exporting a model of a building from one to another can be very time consuming.
Consequently, this required a lot of manual data manipulation, which is also prone to human error.
As a side note, human error is one of the most significant downsides to using a manual data process. These errors can also be very costly to your business.
Overall, our client needed a way to automate their modelling process in order to speed up the process and reduce the manual effort required. An investment in automation would also help to eliminate human errors.
In addition, automating these steps would allow our client to win more contracts, fulfill them faster, and grow their business. Ultimately, it's what we're all trying to accomplish, right?
Our client had already integrated an older algorithm to help streamline some of the steps in their modelling processes. However, they wanted to upgrade the algorithm and automate it as much as possible.
To solve this problem, Greg reached out to us.
During our first conversation, we discussed the pros and cons of different strategies to accomplish Greg's vision.
The approaches included whether to use Ruby, Excel VBA, or Python to automate the steps.
Based on the client's existing workflows, which relied heavily on Excel, VBA was the best choice.
In addition, using Excel VBA would allow the automation tool to be more easily portable to other users. It could even provide a licensing opportunity (software as a service), if desired.
Together we developed an automated tool in Excel, using VBA. This tool automated multiple steps in the engineering process, leveraging what had already been accomplished in the older algorythm.
The tool we created has the ability to import data files from other software packages, process XML data structures, and extract and edit critical data. The tool can then create new data files to be imported into other software packages.
In essence, it's like a universal translator. But it also has the ability to add meaningful information into the model files based on the user's inputs.
With this new automation tool, Greg experienced a 25% reduction in overall effort for this modelling process. In addition, it saved 1 business day per month. The client will start saving even more days as they win more contracts.
The innovative automation tool was also presented at the 2018 Building Performance Analysis Conference, sponsored by ASHRAE.
Could a 25% reduction in manual effort help transform your business?
Imagine what automation could do for you. Reach out to us today.
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