solar proposal-to-CAD integration

Avoid the Pitfalls of the Data Cul-De-Sac

In Industry Perspectives, Product Update by

Too often the legwork completed during the proposal phase of solar project design ends up stuck in a dead end data cul-de-sac, never to be fully leveraged by project engineers or elsewhere in the enterprise. 

Oftentimes, the sales team uses a web-based proposal software and then the engineering team starts the design process from scratch in their own CAD environment because the data doesn’t easily port from the proposal software to AutoCAD. If any export is allowed at all, most sales software allows only the export of a flat CAD compatible file that contains, essentially, a layout of flat rectangles. When you open that file within AutoCAD, all the metadata is lost. What module does that rectangle represent? What kind of racking system was it mounted on? How tall are the obstructions? What is the geolocation of the project? All of those essential inputs are lost. Even the customer name and address are rarely auto-loaded into the CAD-space drawing.

One of the greatest challenges is the difficulty engineers have in making changes to the layout. For example, if an engineer were to delete a tracker, that change is not reflected back to adjust the total kWh that will be generated by the project. 

In keeping with PVComplete’s mission to to accelerate the deployment of solar worldwide by improving the speed, accuracy and overall ROI of solar project design, eliminating the data cul-de-sac between sales and engineering has been a key area of focus. The PVComplete platform was designed from the ground up to allow solar developers, installers and engineers to work seamlessly together to maximize efficiency and accuracy with solar proposal-to-CAD integration. 

Sales professionals can begin a project quickly online with PVSketch (for residential and commercial projects) and then transfer the project to PVCAD or begin the project in PVSketch Mega (for utility-scale projects) and then transfer the project to PVCAD Mega. Project engineers can then pick up the project and create a detailed engineering plan. 

As pictured above, to avoid the data cul-de-sac, the PVSketch proposal design seamlessly transfers to PVCAD for detailed permit drawings.

Though the efficiency enabled by this integration yields measurable benefits for solar projects of any size, it is particularly critical in the utility-scale space because of the size and complexity of utility scale layouts. The ability to port the sales layout over to the design space saves a great deal of time.

Inevitably, solar layouts change during the engineering process. With solar proposal-to-CAD integration, the PVComplete platform ensures that every design change updates project data such as total generation in real time.