Disorganized reports can slow your team down. News flash? Probably not. Most AutoCAD Plant 3D users are aware that, when you build reports in Plant 3D, it’s important to think about the people who will end up with those reports. Best case scenario is making them happy and making yourself look good. Unfortunately, in our interaction with Plant 3D users, many say they have had incorrect materials come out of Plant 3D Report Generator. Additionally, very few users import reports from Report Creator into their projects, making that best case scenario much tougher.
If steps are taken to make sure a report goes into Excel nicely, the person who receives that report will be able to edit or add to the information easily. Following are four things you should know to ensure that your reports are formatted to allow recipients to best understand and manipulate them.
Reports are important for conveying design intent. Pipe and fittings in a 3D model will show installers where to route the pipe. But even more important is the data in the model. Reports give access to the part of the design that you can’t see on the model – the data behind the objects. Reports can also be configured to provide self-checks. You should have a report-checking process just like you have a drawing-checking process, so you can be sure your designers are creating drawings with high-quality information.
All the Plant 3D reports can be custom formatted for your firm’s needs. They are extremely flexible using the tools in Plant 3D.
- List. Comes from the data manager. There is one row for each item in the model. List reports can be imported to or exported from the project mimicking the data manager export – as long as the header and columns match, and the class name is on the sheet tab. Using a data entry list for example, the report can be extracted, information changed, and then inserted back into the project.
- Summary. Provides totals in a consistent format and includes bills of materials. Similar reports could be done in Excel with extensive knowledge of spreadsheets, but the Plant 3D template makes it easier.
- Detail. All information on one specific item is captured on one sheet.
When reports go into Excel nicely, they will be most useful to purchasing, for instance, or the client, who will add their own information to the report to suit the needs of their workflow. The goal should be that the report is cleanly formatted and user-friendly. Rules in the Plant 3D Report Creator allow flexibility with the appearance of reports, so you can define borders, fonts, padding, and alignment.
- Control layout controls: Cleaning up formatting of layer controls will minimize the number of Excel columns and rows, resulting in a cleaner export. You can reduce the number of controls, remove controls you don’t need, align column controls, and add padding space to make the Excel label more readable.
- Expressions: Use expressions to quickly customize your reports. Expressions allow you to combine columns on your reports and is really like a mini-glimpse into programming.
- Layer groups: Grouping merges rows that have the same property value (for instance the short description). The grouping is based on class order. The reporting quantity row should be put at the lowest group header possible and include all the properties that are important to your report.
Styles can be set and assigned to different labels and tools within the Report Creator editor. By resetting the style priority for the out-of-the-box standards, the styles can be customized for font and color. Styles need to be “assigned” and “applied” and can even be set for even and odd rows. They can also be imported and exported so they won’t need to be recreated over and over.
When you take these steps to ensure that reports go into Excel cleanly, you’ll be a new best friend to the people who receive them. A little extra effort goes a long way to improving the information workflow for others internal and external to your firm.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into this process, access an excerpt of our Plant 3D admin class in the on-demand webinar, Plant 3D Reporting Functionality. If you would like to talk “Plant 3D” with one of the Applied Software technical experts, contact Applied today for a discovery call. Whether you need ideas, training, professional services, or support, we’ve got your back.