While Excel is a staple in the engineering community, it has slowly become outdated and costly compared to modern solutions. By looking at the real-life applications of this method, it is easy to discover the true costs associated with relying on spreadsheets for engineering calculations.
Engineers use their own Excel spreadsheets because businesses usually rely on Microsoft Office for their day-to-day workflows. Even if this system wasn’t perfect, they were concerned about the cost of PIPE-FLO a Revalize brand or a similar modeling and simulation application for fluid piping systems.
However, the reality is that every process has a cost. To understand what method is most valuable for your business, it is key to identify the total cost of your workflows.
Allowing your team to spend months developing their own system of spreadsheets is likely costing them time and costing you money. Modeling and simulation programs like PIPE-FLO are designed to handle design files, engineering data tables, and meet customer requirements — all in one centralized location.
If your team uses a single spreadsheet application in their production process, new employees must be trained in its use. Beyond the spreadsheet itself, new employees must also understand the data flow, source of the input data, and the terminology in the application. This means new users need to learn about industry norms to determine if their calculations make sense.
Since all this information is likely in an information silo shared by only a few team members, you will need to dedicate time and resources away from other projects to educate your new employees. The lack of outside resources also results in slower acceptance of and confidence with your in-house application.
Since Excel is an easy-to-use and well-known application, it is easier to understand how to modify the internal workings of a spreadsheet. This leads to a risk of version control issues.
If someone has a new idea or a shortcut in performing the calculations, making an internal workings change without consulting other users leads to roadblocks, internal conflict, and costly errors. Someone in a specific office typically develops Excel applications. So, if the application is deployed to many offices, version control becomes increasingly important and difficult to manage.
When using spreadsheets, it is common practice for each calculation to be reviewed and approved by another engineer.
Senior engineers often conduct the reviews and are aware of the potential calculation pitfalls and shortcomings.
A common concern is when results are out of the expected ranges, which is caused by entering a user input in the wrong units. This review process takes your top employees away from more complex tasks. It also potentially reveals issues far into your development that cost your team and restarts the calculation process.
Many of the results performed by the Excel application are used in subsequent design tasks. This goes for design values entered in the previous design tasks as well. If the next calculation in the process is made with another Excel application, the data is typically re-entered into the new spreadsheet.
However, if the subsequent design task is performed using a computer modeling and analysis (CMA) application, the existing design information must be entered into the new application. Re-entering data increases the possibility of errors involved with converting to new units or transcription.
Although Excel is a staple of the engineering industry, modern solutions reduce or eliminate the costs associated with this outdated system. CMA applications like PIPE-FLO offer engineers the ability to visualize, centralize, and analyze their calculations with more accuracy and speed than ever before.
Don’t let your engineers use tools that cost you more. Schedule a demo and discover how PIPE-FLO improves your workflow while cutting out the hidden costs of spreadsheets.