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This TechNote complements our TechNote on Integrating PLS-CADD with a Database and is intended solely to familiarize you with PLS-CADD's material and labor management functions so that you may better understand how to integrate PLS-CADD with a database.
PLS-CADD has featured material and labor accounting for nearly 10 years now. The material and labor handling functions are all found under the Structures/Material menu.
The first thing that we will examine is the "Parts" list. By selecting the "Edit Parts List" menu item in the screen above, you will be transferred into the Parts Editor dialog box similar to the one shown below. Notice that the Parts Editor dialog box for the example project on this web page not only contains physical parts, but also columns for labor and equipment.
By examining the Parts Editor dialog box, you can see that there are many pieces of information that can be associated with each part. The default columns that you will always see are Stock Number, Description, and Unit Price. These are the columns that, at a minimum, are required to properly handle material and labor totaling for a project. Of course, you will probably have many additional pieces of information for each part that you will wish to have available in PLS-CADD for reference and for future use, so we have provided the ability for you to define your own columns. By clicking on the Structures/Material/Setup item, you are brought into the User Defined Data Setup dialog box below. Here you can add up to six additional utility specific columns to the initial three default columns.
Once the parts (including labor and equipment, if desired) are input into the table (later, we will discuss how these tables can be populated automatically via ODBC), you can begin building assemblies out of the parts. Also, assemblies can use other assemblies as components, and this can be done with no limit to the number of levels. For example, utilizing this method, you can build a single pole top assembly (compatible unit) out of 3 insulator assemblies, 1 shield wire assembly, a pole grounding assembly, and 4 guy assemblies. Then, a structure assembly could be built out of the pole top assembly and a pole. The Assembly List table below is reached by choosing the Structures/Material/Edit Assembly List menu item. Using the buttons on the bottom of the dialog box, the user can Add/Copy/Delete/Edit/ and even sort the entire assembly list. When adding or editing an assembly, you will be brought into the dialog box shown below.
In the Assembly Editor dialog box, you can define the Assembly Stock Number, the Assembly Description, and the identity and quantity of the parts and sub-assemblies that comprise this particular assembly. A listing of all previously defined parts and assemblies is also included in the editor. These lists can be searched and once a component is found, you can use Copy/Paste to eliminate keyboard entry of the component stock number. The description is automatically filled in if the part or assembly stock number is found. NOTE: Stock Numbers are case sensitive!
Once the parts and assemblies library is developed in PLS-CADD, the associated assemblies and/or parts for each structure can be associated with it's structure model. You can do this using the wind and weight span structure models built in PLS-CADD, or in our finite element structure programs PLS-POLE and TOWER. Once the material is associated with each structure type, PLS-CADD simply tallies the material used on the project as structures are spotted. If you are using the optimization capabilities of PLS-CADD the total cost of each structure is automatically calculated. If labor and equipment are used in the assemblies, the cost used will be the total installed cost of each structure - don't let others tell you that PLS-CADD doesn't include the "installed cost" for optimization - they just want you to buy their million dollar "service" to do the same thing.
Finally, once the structures are spotted, PLS-CADD can provide a listing of material (and labor and equipment, if included) in several different formats. The first format is simply a total listing of material used on the project. This can be obtained by selecting the Structures/Material/List menu item. Once selected, you will be prompted with the following dialog box.
This table includes the stock number, description, cost, and all the columns included in the User Defined setup, as well as the total quantity of each part and the extended cost of each item, again including labor and equipment if those items were included.
Sliding down the table, the total installed cost of the project is presented in the tabular format. When you click on the square in the upper left corner of the table (this is true of any table in PLS-CADD or any of our programs), a menu pops up.
If you select "Table Report", you are given some choices to make regarding formatting of the report.
Once you select the format, a report inside of PLS-CADD is generated so you can print it.
However, the advantage of the tabular format is that it can easily be used in other tabular programs such as spreadsheet and database programs. The simplest way to take this table and get it into a spreadsheet program is to choose Copy in the Material List pop up dialog box. Once this report is "copied", the spreadsheet program (in this example, Excel) can be opened up and the Paste function can be selected. The data is now available for sorting or other manipulation. (We will get to the "Database Export" option in a few more paragraphs.)
As mentioned earlier, the listing of material can be presented in several different formats in PLS-CADD. Another place to get a total material listing for the project is under the Lines/Reports/Staking Material Table menu item.
When selecting this option, a table similar to the previous bulk material table is generated except this table is generated on a structure by structure basis. We will use this table in the Integrating PLS-CADD with a Database TechNote to demonstrate the Database Export functions of PLS-CADD.
Now that we understand the basics of how PLS-CADD handles material, labor, equipment, and assemblies, and how to generate the various material and labor tables, let's return to our TechNote page on Integrating PLS-CADD with a Database. If you would like to explore PLS-CADD material related issues in more depth, please consult the manual.