In a corner of Plumco’s 20-square-metre office near the Scheldt River, there’s an ink plotter printer sitting in the corner that isn’t even connected anymore. The office used to be 150 square metres, but thanks to Bluebeam Revu, Plumco’s offices and database are now everywhere and anywhere they need to go. The old plotter printer collects dust while digital drawings and plans are shared across computers and tablets and stored in the cloud.
Jean-Pierre Geerts is the owner of Plumco, an HVAC and energy efficiency company in East Flanders, Belgium. Plumco provides energy-efficient installation systems for sanitary heating facilities, solar energy, heat pumps and HVAC solutions. In 2007, Plumco — like most SMEs in HVAC and similar trades — was a paper-and-pen business. Plans and paperwork for large projects were literally too heavy to carry into meetings and any meetings required travelling to jobsites or offices, parking and reviewing pages or getting signatures in person. Sometimes, multiple plans or options were necessary and, of course, all of this paper and ink had to be purchased and stored. There were additional costs of servicing printers and simply spending the time organising and searching for the right material pages or contracts. If clients or potential clients requested changes, that meant redrawing plans and seeking approval through the same cumbersome process. Geerts saw that larger businesses in similar fields of construction and engineering were improving their bottom lines by going digital, and recognised the opportunity to save on time, space and printing costs by incorporating more technology into his process.
Geerts needed a single solution to a number of challenges. He wanted to save money, work faster and more efficiently and increase collaboration with clients. Furthermore, as an ecologically minded professional, Geerts wanted to reduce his environmental impact. Therefore, he started “looking for PDFs that suited my industry, suited construction, allowing me to add data or content to make such PDFs intelligent, allowing me to do calculations and share communication. Then, I found Bluebeam.” Immediately, Geerts said he “could see the advantages of using the software on large construction sites; however, Bluebeam is also really valuable for smaller companies like ours. I can successfully compete with businesses larger than ours.”
Crucially, Revu was also affordable for an SME like Plumco. “When I first purchased [Revu], it was very important to me that it should remain affordable even with several Licenses, particularly as a small company,” Geerts said. “We don't have annual budgets worth thousands of euros to spend on CAD programs.” Considering that the Belgian market is made of 93% small businesses of 1-5 employees, as well as specialist businesses and freelancers, the collaborative qualities in Studio Sessions are a significant advantage for Geerts, who can quickly and simply share information and plans with other businesses and clients from anywhere.
Now, Geerts has incorporated Revu and Studio Sessions into every step of Plumco’s design and build process, as well as collaborations with other contractors and communication with owners and subcontractors. Plumco was one of the first Belgian businesses to use Revu in HVAC and energy-efficient installations and has reaped the benefits of its early adoption. Today, Plumco only uses paper for invoices, as all designs and plans are made within Revu. This has created a reduction in paper use of 92%, saving Plumco thousands of euros every year. Furthermore, Plumco’s office space has gone from 150 to 20 square metres, allowing them to save on rent and office costs. Geerts can work from anywhere with just his laptop and offer a much better customer experience. “I have no fax copiers, no archive; in fact, everything is in the cloud,” Geerts said. “Bluebeam helps us to digitalise the entire process."
Geerts saw that Revu was the right tool “to make intelligent PDFs, as well as allowing collaboration, all in a single document.” Geerts used the customised tool sets within Revu to standardise icons for ventilation, piping, sanitary and hydraulic schemes, as well as custom columns for measurements and calculations. Geerts also uses customised templates with all the relevant information he needs to run his business. When quoting customers, Geerts can see all the important information he needs to cover, such as internal wage costs, time spent per unit, as well as profit and risk fields. By providing real-time business data for accurate costs, Geerts is able to quote projects for customers with precision and speed. And because Geerts knows his own profit margins on each job because his quotes are more accurate from day one, he's able to better project Plumco’s performance and cash flow. These tools save Geerts approximately 80% of the time and money he used to spend for project quotes— and with more accurate results. “Revu enables my business to be quick and nimble. I have lower overhead costs, I can work more efficiently and I have better visibility of my financials. This software is capable of making complex things simple,” Geerts said.
Improving client relationships
The transition from printers and ink to Bluebeam has saved time and money for Plumco, but it’s also improved relationships with clients, some of whom have even adopted Revu for their own businesses after seeing the platform in action.
From the start, Geerts can send a complete proposal of work created in Revu, as well as photos of existing space or equipment with overlays of new designs and equipment to give clients and other shareholders a sense of the completed work. Geerts also provides detailed breakdowns of all the equipment the company will use with itemised pricing. He even includes hyperlinks to the spec data for the company’s equipment. This provides the customers with a remarkably open and transparent quote process.
"I have no fax copiers, no archive; in fact, everything is in the cloud. Bluebeam helps us to digitalise the entire process.”Jean-Pierre Geerts
Once a project begins, Revu makes it possible for Geerts to continue that transparency as jobs and tasks are completed. Geerts has created customised forms within Revu so his engineers on site can update task lists and clients or stakeholders can not only see what’s completed and what’s in progress but can digitally approve and sign off on completed work. These forms are stored conveniently in the cloud. If there are any problems or questions, Bluebeam Studio Sessions are used to bring stakeholders together over the PDF plans and make whatever changes are necessary in a virtual meeting, rather than travelling and meeting in person. Stakeholders can readily access project tracking and timelines, the same as the professionals at Plumco.
Revu also offers many other advantages in the field for engineers and technicians. For Arthur, one of Plumco’s HVAC technicians, using Revu on his tablet makes it easy to consult digital manuals and create certificates, so after-sales customer care is simplified and streamlined, while tracking materials and relevant data are also stored in a searchable database.
For Robert, the owner of Dent & Car Repair, a vehicle bodywork shop in Sint-Gillis-Waas, Belgium, working with Plumco introduced him to Revu. Robert’s company specialises in SMART repair techniques and ecologically responsible repairs. The company has embarked on a new project together covering 12,000 square metres where the action-response time needed to be very fast and very transparent in order to manage everything properly. According to Robert, Revu “was the only program able to help us with sending everything through to the other parties... we discovered Revu thanks to Plumco and have been using it ever since.”
It has now been 12 years since Geerts found Revu. In that time, Revu has empowered Geerts to make Plumco nimbler and more responsive, more profitable and competitive, but also more ecologically responsible. Moreover, when working with customers and demonstrating the power of Revu, Geerts has spread the word that there are affordable and powerful digital solutions to problems that every SME faces. Today, Plumco is doing more business at lower costs and greater speed and Geerts has the peace of mind that his company’s operations respect the environment as much as he does.
*Plumco is located in Belgium and purchased Bluebeam products through Bluefields, a Bluebeam Platinum Reseller.