Where Are Your As-Builts?
by Meg Culler

As-builts (or redline drawings) are important pieces of documentation that detail the as-constructed system in your facility. This documentation can include layout (or plan view) drawings, elevation drawings, building & equipment details, electrical schematics, power diagrams, controls programs, Operations & Maintenance Manuals (O&Ms) and more. While it’s easy and even exciting to review this documentation during the design phase of a project, as-builts are often treated as an afterthought or forgotten altogether.

Do you know where your as-builts are?

Keeping a well-maintained and accurate set of as-builts and maintenance documentation is important for many reasons. Reputable contractors and vendors should offer them as part of their deliverable package. If you’re unsure that they’re included in your project, don’t hesitate to make them a contract requirement and hold part of payment as retainage until you receive them. Once you have the documents, keep hard copies in a safe place where multiple parties know their location, and keep electronic copies on your company network AND on a hard drive (such as a thumb drive).

Your as-builts will help you:

  • Understand your system’s capabilities: Want a conveyor to go faster? Slower? Reverse? Carry more load? If you have all the design details, you’ll know if your system can do these things and how to make the changes. Just remember to update the documentation afterwards! If you find your system can’t make the adjustments you want, read on.
  • Aid in future expansion work. This is a big one. When you want to add onto your existing system, or make more than a simple change, you often have to engage with outside contractors. These companies will need to reference your as-built documentation to understand your system, accurately quote the work, and create submittals to local authorities to secure permits. If you don’t have accurate as-builts, you may have to hire an engineering firm to create them from scratch, adding unplanned costs and delays to your project.
  • Maintain, identify & purchase spare parts.  Certain components have a life span. Some parts require a little TLC, like periodic cleaning or lubrication. Your as-builts and maintenance documentation will help you to understand maintenance schedules and identify and order these replacement parts.
  • Ensure Life Safety plans are well-communicated to your team. These can include exit locations, egress paths, fire extinguisher locations, appropriate material storage locations, and other site specific information. Your as-built drawings are the ideal source from which to create your Life Safety diagrams, as they are the most accurate drawings of your system and building. Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping your employees safe, this documentation could be crucial in OSHA or other accident investigations.
  • Understand your assets. A good set of as-builts can help you to prove what you, as the customer, own, and assist in valuing your equipment for resale, depreciation, or other accounting purposes.

A project is not complete until you have your as-built documentation safely in hand. So I’ll ask again: Do you know where your as-builts are?

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A 16-year veteran of DCS & the material handling industry, Meg has worn many hats – system concepting & design, project management, business improvement – and has settled in over the past year as Director of Engineering. Outside of the office, Meg loves to cook, and is into traveling, trail running and gravel cycling.