Modern Bentley CAD software contains thousands of tools, most of which we never use.
CAD administrators create custom toolbars, but which tools should they put in? If you ask 10 designers, you’ll get 10 different answers. I wanted evidence of which tools designers actually used.
Over a 6-week period I anonymously logged commands as designers drafted. In total 48 designers used 217 different commands.
The top ten CAD commands used by all designers
- Element Selection
- Delete Element
- Move Element
- Reference Setting Change
- Edit Text
- Copy Element
- Attach Reference
- Place Active Cell
- Detach Reference
- Place SmartLine
Surprisingly, Junior designers used a larger variety of commands than Senior designers.
Junior designers also ran far more commands on average than Senior designers.
Senior designers ran more commands on average than Lead designers
What are our Lead and Senior designers doing if they aren’t doing CAD work? I will speculate the difference between Junior and Senior designers is largely attributed to efficiency. Senior designers will run one command on 10 elements, where as a Junior will select the element and run the command 10 times.
History tells me the leads are probably bogged down with admin work. I still don’t understand why we take our best and brightest designers, and promote them into non-design roles.
The top 50 CAD commands
A heatmap showing all 217 commands didn’t provide any insight, so I focused on the top 50 commands. Additionally, one designer used the edit text command 515 times, this destroyed the heatmap. To combat this, any value greater than 80 was changed to 80. The value 80 was selected because it covered 95% of tool use.
What can we learn
Training opportunities can be identified. A clear example is Junior designer 13. Unlike everyone else, Junior designer 13 rarely used the element selection tool. This means they are going into each command before selecting the element, this is inefficient. Additionally, they haven’t used any of reference tools.
When we cluster the heatmap by the command count, the designers are still mostly grouped by skill level. However, it’s the anomalies in the grouping that provide the insight
Junior designers 1 and 7 are grouped with the senior designers, they could be punching above their weight.
Senior Designers 18, 4, and 12 appear to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting. It could indicate they are overloaded.
Senior Designers 6, 8, and 15 are grouped with the junior designers, they are likely churning through a lot of entry level work. This can cause angst for the designer and create cost inefficiencies for the project.
Lead Designer 5 is clearly still on the tools, they may benefit from the assistance of a junior designer.
Senior Designer 4 has dropped a lot of elements, dropped elements is seldom good news, this is worth investigating to find out why.
Senior designers 19 and 20 have barely recorded any commands, my best guess is they are using the default C: CAD builds that come with the software rather than the clients builds.
With a bigger sample size, over a longer period of time more patterns would become clear. For now though I have learnt what I needed to learn.