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Was RE: Evaluate drafters' reliability Now: producing good quality drawings

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I have to disagree with the consensus on engineer's doing their own drafting
as the solution to poor quality drawings, even though that is exactly what I
do myself.  I do so because I am a one-man operation and have not yet
expanded.  However, I began in this industry as a draftsman (on a drafting
board) and structural steel detailer.  I learned the hard way, and have
taught others the same way.  It goes something like this:

1.  Convey the design in sketch form to the draftsman.  The detail of the
sketches should depend on the abilities of the draftsman.  If the draftsman
is close to the designer level, these sketches can be very limited in
detail; just get the concept across and let the draftsman/designer fill in
the blanks.

2.  Check the drawings.  Every line, number and word.  That is how the
engineer becomes intimately connected to the drawings.  What is correct gets
highlighted in yellow, what is wrong in red.  Back in the day, this was done
with a yellow china marker and a red pencil (that way you can correct your
red marks if you make a mistake).

3.  Have the draftsman back-check the drawings.  This must be done in an
orderly fashion.  Make the change on the mylar (cad file, vellum).  Then,
and only then, mark off the change on the check-print.  We used to mark
through the red with a green pencil.  When the draftsman sees something he
disagrees with (and cannot bring it to the attention of the engineer because
he is out of the office or otherwise indisposed) he writes what he wants to
do in green, e.g. "OK AS IS" or a corrected dimension.

4.  Review the back-checking.  This is the most critical part of training
draftsmen, obtaining good quality drawings, and maintaining profitability.
The engineer has the check prints (now a very pretty mixture of blue,
yellow, red, and green) and a  fresh plot in front of him.  He confirms that
every red mark was changed on the drawing to his satisfaction, and that it
was marked through in green by the draftsman.  Anything not changed gets
circled in a new color.  At this time he also reviews anything in green that
the draftsman placed on the check print.

5.  If necessary, the check print goes back to the draftsman for
re-back-checking.  NOT a new mark-up and re-check.  I understand that you
may run out of room on the check print with all of its colors, but it is
critical to the training of the draftsman for all of this information to be
together.  If necessary, staple sketches to the check print.  Hopefully
there are more than one draftsmen working in the same room together.  If so,
it can become a matter of pride who receives their check-prints back with
the least red.

If #4 results in many things circled in a new color, you may want to, if
your company allows, require the draftsman to make the changes on his own
time and off the clock.

As engineers, we are often not great at dealing with people (just ask my
wife), but if we want a quality prodict that is produced efficiently by
several people, we have to deal with people and deal with them well.  We
have to do this both positively ("You did a great job."  "That drawing
really pops.") and negatively ("I know you are trying really hard, but you
just have to pay more attention to detail.  You have to make avery change
that I mark in red, unless you disagree.  Then let's talk about it."  "We
cannot afford to go back and forth on these drawings like this.  I'm going
to check them once and review your changes.  You get two chances to make
them right: when you first draw them and when you back-chack them.  After
that, you are going to have to make the changes on your time.")

Wow!  I wrote a book.

My 378 cents.

Donald R. Bryant, PE
STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY
518 Bushnell Drive
Virginia Beach, VA  23451
757-428-6471
fax 757-428-6473

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