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How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

I work in the electric industry and I come from the OEM side -- I don't have much experience on the consulting engineering side. One thing I am unfamiliar with is how the process works between engineer and designers/technicians, and possible drafters. Thinking about it more and more, the more I realize that I don't truly understand the process and therefore cannot understand where I can improve the process.

Assuming that one works with the other drafter, technician, or designer for extended periods of time, one would likely be very well acquainted and familiar with the capabilities of one-another, so hashing out a new design should be relatively streamlined. For example, an engineer and designer that have worked together know each other's capabilities strengths/weaknesses, so teamwork is much more effective.

However, let's say one had to work with a pure drafter, or a junior designer/engineer that one hasn't worked with, and hash out a design. In other words, "starting from scratch".

As an engineer, can you share some of your experiences on how you've learned, worked with, and honed this process in your years of practice?

e.g. (not all good practices)
Do you let them do a preliminary design on their own and only review it?
Do you do the design first in CAD yourself and have them detail it?
Do you do a crude or detailed sketch and have them translate it into a drawing?
Do you refer them to past projects and have them do a design based off that?

How long do you spend on the initial design and what kind of "package" do you end up giving your designer? Or some variation of the sort?

It seems that working with drafters that do not understand the technical content that is being drawn or designed is not a situation one wants to find themselves in, unless you are instead only doing basic detailing or doing parts /3D modelling based off 2D.

For a good designer in the instance of a substation control building and substation yard:

- I need you to run cable from A to B for this equipment. Here are the drawings, go from there and I'll review it when it's done.

For another designer without as much experience, you instead instruct him/her:

- I need you to run a 2016 covered trench from A to B, run a 4/0 AWG bare copper cable inside it, control cables run in the utilities specified cable type, etc.

Vs. Even more and more details provided by the engineer, with increasing design details until he/she to an outside observer appears as the designer/drafter.

I'd be rather curious to see the actual process behind those drawings that we see created ever so often and curious to know what style has worked for both you and your peers the best. I think that's a pretty fascinating process, in itself.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Drafters??? Do they still exist? We haven’t had them in aerospace for decades.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Agree with SWComposites.

I have never worked with a drafter or know any engineer who has in the last 10 years. CAD programs are so powerful now the 2D is usually the quickest part of the process. I spend most of my time drawing what I need in 3D first and make the 2D once I need a quote or prototype. I revise both 2D/3D continuously as design evolves.

2D drawings are dying a slow death, I think it may take a few more decades, but the 3D model is becoming more and more the single source of truth in my experience. Eventually I think no new designs will have 2D drawings someday, at least from a mechanical side. I'm sure some company's/industries are already there.

Only time I base 3D off of 2D is if the product I'm referencing or using parts from is so old (pre-1999 usually) it was done in 2D only

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Don't waste your worry coupons on how "industry" does it.

You are on a team. The team has work to do. Do the work.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Every company works it different.
And yes, drafters are a dying breed, so is the art of drafting good readable drawings.

ctopher, CSWP
SolidWorks '19
ctophers home
SolidWorks Legion

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

We have standards for basic item arrangement and style for the designers/drafters to fill in the blanks not provided/specified by the engineer. We need to do better about establishing and publishing these standards as some are self-enforced by the design team through a collaborative checking effort, but as the engineer I have to provide very little detail outside the process diagram and specified component list, and any customer-specific items or footprint restrictions. If you're working with a designer who truly has no clue and needs to be spoon-fed every detail you might as well do it yourself.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

In my office they have many Civil engineers and many decades ago they used to have engineers and drafters. When CAD came along, all the drafters got re-assigned to new tasks.

Consultants we hire mostly got rid of drafters. Drafters actually had slowed the BIM adoption since they told the engineers that BIM doesn't' work (either out of ignorance, or fear to have to learn new things). The engineers who got rid of the drafters and finally saw BIM, were so happy they got rid of drafters that held them back. I assume a good drafter could become a BIM technician or manager if they are good and learn. Other than that, it takes more time to explain to someone how to draft than to do it myself.

I'm in HVAC. 100% of my designs are done 100% by myself (except where I hire a sub-consultant, like structural). Except where i use a 3rd party software, all the design happens in Revit. Some 3rd party (lighting design) also has Revit plugins, which really are great. It totally would slow me down to have someone else "draft" (and it would drive me crazy).

In 2022 we probably talk more about Senior and junior engineer working in the BI model and the junior engineer doing more of the modeling to learn.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

I think there will always be a "drafter" just maybe not that name. And I disagree that 2d drawings are going away. Never saw a contractor take the 3D model with him out in the field (cold, damp, dusty, dirty) so he has it as he is installing the pipe. The 3d models stays in the job trailer, if even there.

As design is part layout and part engineering calculations, likely you will always have less experienced engineers/designers doing that work as they learn the skills of the engineering. Also, the less experienced engineers/designers are cheaper (and often quicker at inputting information into the model) - so the more experienced engineer can better spend his time doing the high level design stuff and overseeing the overall process. It also gives him time to train the lesser experienced personnel.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Design in 3D still will give you 2D "sheets". Even in BIM, we still produce a typical plan set (2D) in PDF (or if you want to print it, you can).

The project will be 3D. At least the house I live in is 3D. Better to also design in 3D.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Typically the workflow goes 3d-->2d. The responsible design engineer creates and releases a 3d model with management/other approval and a draftsman creates the 2d from that which then must be approved by the design engineer and management/others. Drafting isnt involved in the design process and often isnt even in the design office. The mega-corps today typically have most of their drafting depts overseas in low-cost Asian countries, which allows them to work while the engineers sleep and quickly turn priority prints with little/no need for communication.

Designers (quasi-engineers/CAD jockeys) are almost extinct bc CAD tools have become so user friendly that even most of the elderly, less computer-literate engineers/managers run it themselves today so most designers have returned to the drafting dept from whence they originated. Draftsmen OTOH are in high demand today due to the highly skilled nature of their work and the need to comply with lengthy corporate standards. Some small companies shoot themselves in the foot trying to do without but they get a big red mark on quality audits which affect sales, and they face significant regulatory and legal risk. I have used MBD on a few projects but honestly haven't seen much enthusiasm so am not expecting it to replace 2d prints anytime soon. That said, 2d is typically only used for inspection and documentation purposes today bc technology has enabled both shop and field fabrications to work directly from the "perfect" 3d which remains master to the 2d supplement.

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Not sure what BIM software you talk about or use. In Revit nothing gets created in 2D (except 2D details, but they are not really part of the actual BI model). Everything is 3D. The 2D view you see on a 2D PDF (or actual paper) is just a slice (called "view" in Revit) of the 3D model. With the views you just select what you need to show the contractor on paper (PDF) since just having the actual Revit file likely is impractical. No one has to create any 2D, you just place the view at the location you want to show with the appropriate graphics settings for the category. That's all done by the same person who designs.

You can make it more complicated and employ a drafts person, but how does that person know what the designer intended to show?

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

Strongly disagree with most of the above comments - or maybe my definition of engineer is just different? I dont consider myself "above" drafting i just dosnt have the skills and i would prefer somebody who has to do drafting.

Yes i do sketches and such but A-CAD 2D (such as P&ID's) i leave that for my drafters (yes plural - and we are a production site).

So coming back to OP: I will red-mark my design in hand and give it to the drafter. When he or she is finished i will review it, make comments or alteration and repeat until "perfect" winky smile

--- Best regards, Morten Andersen

RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

I'm just standing on the sidelines. Most of our older drafties are ex-toolroom and are a valuable resource when it comes to tolerances and manufacturability in our plants. I give them shapes and numbers, they come back with stuff that hits the numbers and can be made as cheaply as is sensible in our factories.


Greg Locock

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RE: How does the drafting/design process work in consulting firms?

I'll briefly chime in from my experience in structural consulting firms. In both firms, there were designers and there were drafters, almost no one did both except for a few keen drafters who would do some preliminary type design.

Now that I'm on the overseeing side of things a lot generally I will go through the preliminary design concepts with the junior designers and rough sketch out some framing schemes and ideas. Point out potential difficult areas that I feel need a close look going through it. And then I let the junior designer run with it for a bit. They develop sketches, either on paper or pdf, and that goes to the drafter to get going on drawing production. Once an initial set of drawings is ready to go, I reconvene with the designer and take a look at things, spot check a few critical beams and columns, point out areas I feel need some detailing/attention, and then let the junior designer and drafter go at the set again. Prior to each submission, I go through the drawings in more detail, again checking some more critical design elements as I go, marking up details etc. I go through each of my markups with the designer first, and then the let them add some more markups of their own, and as a team go through the markups with the drafter so we're all on the same page. Rinse and repeat until the design/drawings are complete.

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