Estimating Setups – Start using the Estimating Module

Comments I hear most often regarding the FabSuite Estimating Module are based on the belief that setups are a most arduous task, requiring lots of time and effort.  This assumption often prevents many a user from even getting started with estimating in FabSuite.  This blog post is an attempt to quell those fears and to help users move forward quickly!

This posting reviews the setups listed below.  The basic settings do not take up much time to accomplish, and please note that new settings are automatically used for all new quotes, and existing quotes will not be affected.

We are covering the following:

  • Company Standards
  • Fabricator Information
  • Cleaning, Painting and Galvanizing
  • Freight Maintenance

Company Standards – Go to the Company Standards window and input your basic selections.  For this example I have checkmarked the box for ‘Report Pricing – Automatically Select Last Combining Run’ to have the estimating reports use the combined material pricing result in my bid reports.  This helps me to make a final price based on the materials I will have to purchase for the job.








Galvanizing – Open the Galvanizing window to install your average price per pound and a minimum cost.  I also put in the added weight percentage for use with shipping costs.   We may add for special Galvanizing considerations in Estimate Extras moving forward, for now just click OK.









Fabricator InformationUse the ‘Fabricator Information’ window to enter your standards for Shop Operations, Labor Rates and Markups.   Filling in the fields in this window provides the basic information for the shop standards to be utilized for creating an estimate.  In addition to the hourly rates and pricing, information regarding the capacity of shop equipment is needed.







Click to checkmark the box for ‘Auto Clip – Angles’ to use the database for ‘Standard Clips’ when a Labor Code for Beams with Clips is being used.  I use this handy feature for my floor and roof beams so I don’t have to worry about adding materials and labor for standard clips.  I also have a typical price for my field and shop bolts, also used with the auto clips so I don’t have to list or price those as well.  All connection related material, labor and pricing are automatic, saving me a huge amount of time!

Use the ‘Capacity settings’ at the left side of the window to establish shop equipment parameters.  Materials entered into the Estimating module with elements beyond these parameters will then automatically look to labor data for cutting as determined by material type and saw capacity.









Items which are longer than the entries for ‘Identify Angles, Beams, Rods, Tubes Longer than’ and items which exceed the ‘Maximum Quantity’ will appear in the ‘Problem Summary Sheet’ report.  The ‘Problem Summary Sheet’ is a report which lists all of your items noted here as needing special consideration.  Run the report for use prior to your final bid evaluation.   This saves lots of questions prior to bid day!

Next, let’s look to the buttons at the bottom of this window for more settings.

Operations – Click the down pointing arrow to the right of a field to view selections.  Most offer either Manual or Auto, and directly affect the labor time application by pointing to a specific type in the labor data base for each item.  For example, when an estimate requirement exceeds the punch capacity set in this window, then the drill data base is used.










As FabSuite calculates the labor, the program looks to the first setting.  When an estimate requirement exceeds the first selection setting, FabSuite then uses the 2nd setting.  For example, the Punch Capacity for Angles is set to ¾”, so when an angle thickness entered into the estimating material list exceeds this thickness – then FabSuite will use the ‘Drill’ labor database selection.

Labor Rates – Use the Labor Rates window to install the cost per hour for specific fabrication functions. Sample options are rates for Detailing, Erection, Shop Labor and Equipment.  Open the Labor Groups window to see where the labor rates are used.








Mark ups – Use the ‘Mark ups’ window to add or modify the markup percentages.  This window is for the global setting, though these entries may be modified by project in the Estimating Job Edit window.









Click the ‘OK’ button to return to the ‘Fabricator Information’ window.   The next setting in Fabricator Information I want to show you is for ‘Shop Efficiency’.  This option is a quick way to dial up or down the automated standard labor times in FabSuite.  We are showing you the global setting for all estimates here, though the Shop Efficiency may be changed for individual quotes in the Job Edit window.








Changing the efficiency factor in the Fabricator Information window will apply to new estimates only; current jobs will not be affected.

For example, changing the shop efficiency to 75%, slows the labor down, and will add 25% to the standard labor times.   Changing the shop efficiency to 125%, speeds the labor up, reducing all standard labor times by 25%.

When updating a current estimate, remember to ‘Recalculate Estimate’ in the Estimating Job Edit window to update the labor time. When completed with all changes, click the ‘Save’ button or hit F4 on the keyboard.  The ‘Fabricator Information’ window will close, returning the user to the FabSuite start window.

Cleaning – Cleaning types follow the SSPC-SP codes which are used for painting systems.  Cleaning Rates are based on Square Feet per hour and are used globally.  To change a rate, click to highlight the item in the list, enter the new rate and then click ‘Save’.  Clean Systems are selected in the Estimating Job Edit window for the project being worked.








Painting – Use the Paint Maintenance window installing the paint information.  Enter only the typical paints to be used; specials may be entered into the job edit window.

Note that all paints listed in this table will be brought in to each estimate, paints not being used will need to be deleted by job to avoid over-calculation, as FabSuite automatically calculates the surface area and the required amount of paint based upon the data entered into this window.









Freight MaintenanceUse the window for ‘Freight Maintenance’ to set the pricing standards for Freight.  Calculations are based upon the miles to the jobsite entered in the Estimating Job Maintenance window, and is used together with the trailer capacity and costs entered in Freight Maintenance.









Click to place a checkmark in the ‘Jobsite Freight $/CWT’ option to utilize the center section pricing data base. When the total shipping weight is less than the entry for ‘Trailer Capacity’ the ‘Freight Partial Truck’ multipliers are used, adding to the total calculation for ‘Freight per CWT.

Leave the ‘Jobsite Freight $/CWT’ unchecked to use the ‘Freight per Mile’ option.  When there is no check mark in the box for ‘Jobsite Freight $/CWT’, the entry for ‘Freight per Mile’ is used.  The entry for ‘Minimum Freight Charge per Job’ amount would be used when the result of the calculation for ‘Freight per Mile’ is less than the entry for ‘Minimum Freight Charge per Job’.

The miles to jobsite are entered in the Estimating Edit window, and the cost entered in the ‘Freight per mile’ is used for program calculations.  ‘Freight Partial Truck pricing initiates a multiplier to the ‘Freight per Mile’ Cost.

The Freight Choices at the right section is for inbound freight costs.   I leave this blank as the vendor shipping cost is included in the pricing they give to me.

That is all the basic settings for Estimating needed prior to starting your first estimate.  We have covered the following:

  • Company Standards
  • Fabricator Information
  • Cleaning, Painting and galvanizing
  • Freight Maintenance

For more in depth explanations, see the FabSuite user manuals (‘EST’ or Estimating Manual and ‘EST Maintenance’ or Estimating Maintenance Manual, available from the ‘About’ button at the FabSuite start up screen), the selections for Version information available from the FabSuite startup window, specifically v5.2.5 for ‘Estimating – Bluebeam Import’, v16.0 for ‘Estimating Labor Diagnostic Screen’, v16.2 for ‘Estimating Enhancements’, also the previous Blog posts for topics on Estimating.

Other suggestions I have for new FabSuite Estimating users:

  • Do a test estimate using a successful job done outside of FabSuite, view the reporting and compare
  • Use the FabSuite automatic labor selections, view result in the Labor Diagnostic window
  • Remember that the FabSuite labor time applied is ‘Cradle to Grave’, meaning that the labor starts with off-loading materials from the delivery truck all the way to loading trucks to jobsite, view that labor time against your own experience
  • Get some online FabSuite Estimating Training to help you

Happy Estimating!

Written by Kerri Olsen

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