I’m always looking for new tools. Harbor Freight is like the Toys-R-Us for workshop aficionados like me – You can NEVER have enough tools
The same goes for tools at work – I like to refer to my work truck as my Command Center (check out my breakdown in my article A Construction Engineer’s Toolbox to see my gear list).
A few of us were kibitzing around the cubicles last week after the office closed, the topic of websites came up. I found out I’m not the only guy in our office who hosts a site.
Pankaj Kumar is a structural engineer. He hosts a website Flexureflow.com. He has a few tools at his website that you really need to check out.
Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Tollway Pay Item Report
I work in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway (as do most state transportation agencies…) post their construction bidding results on-line. If you’ve ever taken the time to dig into the postings, you’ll find a maze of information, data and formats related to contracts, bids, awards, pay items & bid prices, etc.
The trouble with the way that the agencies publish their data is that it’s in all kinds of different formats: Excel spreadsheets, text files, plain data files, links to files, etc. The information can be extremely useful, but it takes some getting used to to figure out how to navigate to the information you’re looking for.
Pankaj has developed a really handy tool for making navigation easy for IDOT and ISTHA bid results.
By using the tool, the user has the ability to find pay item & bid cost information on virtually any solicited work item.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say you are working on a design project, or you are estimating a proposed change order on your jobsite, and you need to find an estimated unit price for IDOT Pay Item 66900200 – Non-Special Waste Disposal.
Now, you could do a Google search. Or go to IDOT’s Letting & Bidding web portal and navigate through the last few bid lettings. You’d find the .xls or .txt files with the bid tabulations. And then you’d search to see if any projects used Non-Special Waste Disposal. You’d eventually find some of what you’re looking for to utilize in your estimate.
But, if you used Flexureflow’s Pay Item Report, you’d get more data than you know what to do with!!
In the module, I’ve simply entered the pay item number and then Boom! A populated data table appears providing ALL of the bid tabulation data for that pay item. Amazing!!!
If you click around, you can navigate by county or by letting date. You can explode one of the bids and see all of the bid prices submitted by contractors. And if you click on the contract number, you are linked to the Agency website where you can find the plans & specifications that were bid! Amazing!!
The module allows the user to plot the results to look at trends. You have the ability to export the data table into and .xls spreadsheet which is very handy for working with the data outside of the website.
This is a fantastic tool for any of us who need to find unit prices for work items. I’ve spent hours culling through IDOT bid tabulations – Flexureflow now can do a massively-extensive data search in a matter of seconds.
Pankaj has been writing & experimenting with other applications that he uses & shares with the engineering community:
–Elastomeric Bridge Bearing Sizing
–Reinforced Concrete Column Analysis
And he is currently working on developing a Roadway Design Criteria Analysis for Superelevation Transitions – Great stuff!!
After Actions Report
This one is a slam dunk – Your action item is to head over to Flextureflow and do some experimenting.
Pankaj is working on other engineering calculations & modules. If you have an idea for an engineering application that you think might lend itself to a calculation module like the ones he has published, reach out to him via his website and start a dialogue.
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