|Environmental impact analysis:||---|
|Environmental cost listing/database:||---|
|Alternative product/process comparison:||---|
Features of Composer Gold include the following:
Users can enter project and site-specific labor and equipment rates. Besides being able to use built-in work packages and assemblies, users can define an unlimited number of assemblies, which can reduce entry time and effort. Up to six levels of project breakdown are available in the system. The modeling capability, WBS levels, coding, and user-defined cost categories can be used to estimate and include life-cycle environmental costs in various ways.
|Raw material acquisition||---|
Composer Gold has a separate module for analyzing life-cycle costs. However, this uses a definition of the life-cycle (different from ours), where only private costs related to the project are included. This may or may not include recycling and waste management. However, in this case, the database provides information only on maintenance and repair (other than the manufacturing stage) of equipment. The net retention/disposal value can also be calculated. However, the costs of actually disposing of the material (on-site or off-site) may not be included in the database. The database is the MCACES maintenance and repair database (in the Life Cycle cost module), which allows users to account for costs associated with the use/reuse of building components(in the facility itself).
Including life-cycle information may be possible by defining different WBS levels for each stage and also by using the coding capability. Up to 6 WBS levels can be defined and applying this option for different life-cycle stages could be limited by other requirements of the users. If users do not need to keep the life-cycle stages distinct, this information can be incorporated in existing formats. Users would need to develop cost data from a different source if full life-cycle costs need to be estimated.
The Unit Price Book contains some information on hazardous waste-related costs, such as for safety equipment and special construction for waste treatment. The system can be linked with various commercial databases that are used to estimate conventional costs and waste disposal costs. BSD is now offering an additional database for Environmental Restoration, the ECHOS database, which is brought out through a joint venture between Delta Technologies and Marshall & Swift. This database addresses environmental data from a technologies perspective and covers 4000 assemblies and 4000 unit cost items. In BSD, the models database contains a library of 44 facilities, which users can add to by copying other projects. The types of environmental costs covered include site preparation, construction, environmental technologies, equipment, etc. These databases do not contain cost information on many hidden environmental costs, and no information on contingent or external costs. Users may be able to incorporate these cost elements in different ways. Estimates will need to be made by users.
If users can develop the appropriate relationship models, parameters, and unit costs, the modeling capability of the system can be utilized to estimate quantities and costs for specific items that generate these environmental costs. Second, users can directly input costs into the estimate from their own sources. Third, users can define cost categories that address these items. Gold allows users to define and select up to 5 each of owner cost, direct cost, and indirect cost columns. If some environmental costs cannot be addressed using the predefined or conventional cost categories, users can add additional categories, such as 'external costs'. For example, an activity such as distillation, could result in an air pollution cost. This cost (which would have to be estimated by users) could be entered in a external costs column. Combinations of these approaches could be used to include information on environmental costs.
The system uses unit cost estimating and parametric modeling. The company plans to additionally offer factor and range estimating at a later date. Users create the estimate in a project file by entering appropriate cost items to price each area of work. This can be done by tapping into the databases connected in the system or by direct data entry. The screen gives information about the source of the data (entered/changed by users or through a database). Descriptions, quantities, and unit costs can all be changed directly on the screen and users can control column names (e.g., labor, equipment) as required.
The system can import ready-made databases such as Richardson, Means, Lee, Saylor, and others. It contains a hazardous waste database from the Corps of Engineers and EPA and its own database of unit costs. Users can also build a database, which can be used to include environmental cost information that may not fit in existing databases. The system can contain up to seven databases. The database types included are project (where the project estimate is built),models, assemblies, unit prices, crews, labor rates, and equipment rates. In the equipment rates database, data such as depreciation, cost of capital, and fuel and operating expenses can be entered. The labor rates database can contain information such as basic rates, overtime, travel expenses, etc. The labor and equipment can be grouped to form crews, which can be used for estimating as well.
The historical cost project analysis module has a database of over 1,800projects that contains 3,100 facility types. The information is stored by facility name/size/cost per square foot/year built/location. The Historical Analysis Generator allows users to query the database to narrow project sampling to facilities of a similar type and size. A cost index can be used to compare the cost of the facility with other areas of the country or the world. The database can be appended with the users' own historical project files.
Users can use an MCACES maintenance and repair database (in the life cycle cost module), which provides information on ideal maintenance and repair schedules for different types of building components. The life cycle cost module also allows users to analyze energy-efficiency alternatives and differing fuel systems. It reports capital, operating, and energy costs, and net disposal/retention value.
The models module allows users to access and modify the formulas that calculate quantities. It can assist in planning complex features and tasks based on previous models. The system offers cost/escalation adjustment factors for the entire project by percentage. An escalation index can be used to compare similar items in different bids on one screen. A what-if recalculation feature can be used to compare different project scenarios. This can be a useful feature in comparing the effects that changes in different variables can have on environmental costs.
|Net present value (NPV)||---|
|Internal rate of return (IRR)||---|
|Benefits cost ratio||---|
The scheduling interface computes overall project duration and end data, and users can define schedule relationships among activities using PDM or the ADM method. The program can export data to different scheduling packages and dBASE format files. Composer can interface with project management software such as Primavera, Open Plan, and Microsoft project. The system can use a digitizer to take off quantities. Data in the system are automatically compressed for storage and for copying to disks. On a network, users may exchange data and usage can be restricted, if desired.
The system is menu-driven and provides on-line help. The system's manual contains a section on estimating and quantity takeoff techniques as related to the program. The system can also detect logical errors and prevents users from deleting important data by mistake. Users have the ability to make customized reports. They can define an unlimited number of work codes, which can be used to sort and display data. Summary and detail reports can be prepared by sorting by chosen variables.
The product is the commercial version of MCACES, and unlike earlier versions it now comes with the latest version of the Army Corps of Engineers Unit Price Book (this was previously considered proprietary). BSD also offers the ECHOS database for Environmental Restoration, which addresses environmental data from a technologies perspective. Composer Gold is accompanied by a couple of sample projects and templates that users can use to build their own projects.
BSD provides user support through training and technical services and information dissemination, including new software reviews and newsletters. They offer a renewable support plan that covers hot line support and free updates of the software. The price of the plan is based upon the number of users-$495 for the first user and $195 for each additional user. Training classes are offered in Atlanta or on-site (depending on the number of users). A demonstration disk highlighting system features is available. However, it is not interactive and does not allow users to build-in limited sample projects.
The system does not provide graphical capabilities such as time-cost curves, estimated/actual cash flow charts, and histograms. Users can open only one project at a time, although they may cut and paste from other projects. Each project can have only one WBS structure related to it (the program can support multiple projects). The system does not generate any financial indicators. The program does not have a menu function for exporting/importing data.
The system has not been designed for life-cycle costing (consistent with our definition) or for including all cost categories, such as regulatory, contingent environmental costs, and less-tangible costs. Information on some upfront hidden costs (e.g., use/reuse of building components, technology costs for ER)can be obtained through the MCACES and the ECHOS database. However, regulatory, back-end, and voluntary hidden costs, and contingent and less-tangible costs are not covered, thus leaving out less conventional areas in environmental cost estimating. Users would need to develop estimating methods and cost data to incorporate these types of environmental costs.
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