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ARC Taps Facilities, Emergency Management as Growing Markets

ARC Taps Facilities, emergency Management As Growing Markets

by JONATHAN BARNES, for BuiltWorlds | Nov 16, 2015

It was a costly mistake, the result of building documentation that wasn't available to the manager of a new big-box retail store. When faced with a plumbing emergency, the manager panicked.

“He hired the first plumber he could find to handle the problem,” recalls David Trask, national business development representative for Walnut Creek CA-based ARC Document Solutions, a purveyor of construction management software, archiving and hyperlinking services, among other tools. In the end, “(that) plumber screwed up, voided the original warranty, and the retailer had to bring in the original plumber to fix the problem,” he notes.

Trask says FM tasks are forecast to keep growing.

Trask says FM tasks are forecast to keep growing.

Trask uses the anecdote to illustrate how ARC’s solutions could have saved that owner a lot of money, simply by ensuring correct documentation was at the manager's disposal. Once focused solely on the AEC community, ARC recently also began providing document management systems to facilities managers in sectors ranging from retail to offices to local government.

The shift in clientele isn't surprising, given ARC's evolving role in construction. As a former provider of hard-copy reprographic and other printer services to designers and builders, the ARC team had become well versed in industry documents and the folks who rely on them. Today, it operates more than 170 offices globally, all involved in the development, distribution and management of information.

Although designers, builders and facility managers (FMs) today have countless project management software packages and file-sharing platforms at their disposal, ARC provides a full spectrum of services for organizing elecronic documents, including SKYSITE, a cloud or DVD-based content management application, BIM services and other construction-centric tools. Its cloud-based system has bank-level encryption, and the firm provides scanning and set-up services, as well.

one multi-purpose, 'cloud'-pleaser

It’s a rarity for tools originally intended for the AEC industry to be widely marketed to other sectors, but ARC now is leveraging an apparent gap in the construction document paper trail to sell paperless solutions to old and new customers alike. The gap? The period after a project’s hand-off, when problems can arise due to the limited warranties provided by contractors.

“The general contractor may have a one-year or two-year warranty to keep things up,” explains Carol Hagen, a Phoenix AZ-based construction technology consultant. Providing documentation to FMs “is where it’s going, the objective being to keep the building running as efficiently as possible, without maintenance mistakes,” she adds.

“I think we’re starting to see a lot of potential for how [programs of this kind] can help owners,” adds Steven Ayer, associate professor for Arizona State University’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, located in Phoenix.

ARC's solutions are well-suited to assisting contractors and FMs transition new and legacy construction documents to an electronic format, often with cloud-based storage. Its hyperlinking and archiving and information management services round out solutions in the facilities management arena.

While its FM clientele remains small relative to the other building professionals it serves, ARC believes it may hold the greatest potential for growth, given the fact that risk management now may be more important than ever, regardless of building sector.

Emergency communications: Municipalities are seeing huge potential for cloud-based tools to help first responders.

Emergency communications: Municipalities are seeing huge potential for cloud-based tools to help first responders.

“Today, we're seeing more municipalities upgrade their emergency response systems,” notes Trask, who says such instititutions frequently receive discounted rates on their insurance by upgrading document management. Results allow them to share pertinent information with emergency responders and insurers. “The risk management side of this falls right into it,” Trask says.

Operating a cloud-based system, ARC can instantaneously share information to emergency responders and others precisely when they need it. It's what Trask terms a Facilities Document Management System, in which “every document pertaining to a building resides in the same place, all linked,” he says. Among other initiatives, ARC is establishing hyperlinking service centers across the U.S. to meet growing customer demand, he adds.

Because ARC's tools and solutions frequently are interconnected, one sale invariably leads to another.

“Once we we scan documents, the client may request they be hyperlinked and connected to the project dashboard,” says ARC Hyperlinking Specialist Damian Torres. “The hyperlinking service is so flexible, it ties into client workflow. If the client uses Procore, our hyperlinking services can function as a turnkey solution to organize all documents and streamline applications [in use].”

If the client uses Procore, our hyperlinking services can function as a turnkey solution to organize all documents and streamline applications
— Damian Torres, ARC Hyperlinking Specialist

The system allows users to view a variety of information on one page, adds Trask, "including shut-off valves, floor plans, emergency access plans, operations and maintenance manuals, equipment warranties, and emergency contact information for owners, facilities managers, first responders, and more. Anything you want to have linked on that page can be linked.”

Another selling point is the breadth of services available via ARC's many locations. In one instance, the firm undertook BIM work for a high-profile mixed-use development in Honolulu, which it performed in collaboration with a South American partner. That sort of versatility, Trask contends, can make other options for document management seem incomplete. Some suppliers may scan blueprints, spec books, O&M manuals and other documents, but they don't provided remote access. Others may offer cloud-based solutions for storage, but don't scan or organize the documents, he adds.

"For turnkey, plug-in-place solutions, we’re the one,” claims Trask. Indeed, if that truly is the case, then ARC should have plenty of chances to prove it in the coming year.

Based in Pittsburgh, the author is a freelance business journalist who writes about construction technology for BuiltWorlds. A former construction worker, himself, Barnes has worked as a reporter for years, writing stories for ENR, Reuters, Fortune, and other publications. 

He can be reached via email at pittsburghreporter@yahoo.comFollow him on twitter at @Barnestormin.

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