Product info and specs at your fingertips

by Tania Wannenburg
Product info and specs

AutoSpec has been providing South African specifiers with detailed product information and specifications since 2001.

When AutoSpec was founded in 2001, its vision was to provide architects, quantity surveyors and other specifiers with an always available, virtual product expert representing every manufacturer – the “24/7 virtual rep”.

To make this vision a reality, AutoSpec built an expert database with detailed product information and specifications, containing the product manufacturers’ knowledge and expertise.

Specifiers access this knowledge pool through PowerSpec, a simple prompt and response process that results in bespoke, fit-for-purpose specifications. These specifications can then be added to a project specification, either in the form of schedules or trade- and location-based output documents (referenced to the national standards), or simply copied to CAD systems.

All available product images, datasheets, brochures, technical drawings, CAD and Revit files, as well as estimated list pricing, are provided. Users can search for products by manufacturer, product category or keywords, or any combination of these criteria. Specifications can also be exported to a Revit Keynote file.

Simplified product searches
“The key differentiator of AutoSpec was, and still is, its common product interface. The user is faced with the same screens, no matter if they are looking at taps, bricks, windows or roof tiles,” says Glenn Treadaway, AutoSpec’s chief executive officer.

“Also, the user is not asked what product he requires, but rather what is required from the product in terms of performance, given the specific project parameters, for example the climatic zone. AutoSpec then filters out the suitable products and applications from thousands of options,” he adds.

Offline vs online
AutoSpec originally started with only an offline .exe version. However, in 2012 the new AutoSpec website (www.autospec.co.za) was launched and it has since overtaken the offline version in terms of popularity with its registered specifier users, doubling its activity every year since its introduction.

“What has been even more surprising to us, is the amount of casual or general public activity there has been – that is from visitors not registered with us as specifiers,” comments Karen Pedra-Gibson, AutoSpec’s national sales manager.

“They don’t have the full functionality that our registered users enjoy, but they are obviously still finding a lot of value in the site. We are currently getting over 20 000 unique ‘casual’ visitors per month who generate over 1,6-million page impressions over that period,” she explains.

What’s new?
As the specification environment changes, so AutoSpec must adjust. An important recent development was the announcement that AutoSpec and Global GreenTag South Africa have entered into a collaborative relationship to enhance user experience and facilitate awareness of green product availability when users are preparing specifications or seeking to make sustainable product decisions.

For some time the two organisations have been linking product databases, with Ecospecifier-verified products appearing in AutoSpec searches and vice versa. AutoSpec users will soon also see both Ecospecifier-verified and Global GreenTag certified logos and accreditations at product level as part of the selection process. GreenTag’s GreenRate and LCARate certifications are unique certification programmes that, in combination, have been recognised by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) as a product certification standard for the materials fit out calculator in the Green Star SA® Interiors Rating Tool.

V6 of AutoSpec.exe was launched late last year, which featured upgrades to its interface. Further upgrades are planned in 2015, specifically to its scheduling and documentation modules. AutoSpec is also working on new initiatives in the BIM environment.

Estimating tools
Besides AutoSpec, New Dimension Technology (NDTec) is also the home of QSPlus, a bill of quantities and estimating package used by professional quantity surveyors all over Africa.

MyQuote is another productivity application developed by NDTec, and has been designed for organisations needing to control and track quotes generated by their sales teams and customers across multiple platforms. Managers can control every aspect of the sales process including pricelists, discounts, project tenders as well as real-time sales reporting.

“Whatever the need, be it product specification, estimating, bills of quantities generation or mobile quoting, these tools were developed to help specifiers, quantity surveyors and other professionals in the built environment to be more productive,” Treadaway states.

Tel: 11 804 6442
Website: www.autospec.co.za / www.ndtec.co.za

Quick tech facts:

•    The “24/7 virtual rep”.
•    Expert product database.
•    Filtered product searches.
•    Output: Bespoke, fit-for-purpose specifications.
•    Common product interface.
•    Available offline and online.
•    Green accreditations.

•    Bill of quantities and estimating package.
•    Designed for QSs.

•    Productivity application.
•    Tracks quotes.
•    Control the whole sales process.

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