Customer Profile: T.S. Raulston, Inc. Mechanical Contractors was founded and incorporated in 1947 in Chattanooga, TN. Since then, they have grown to be a full-service mechanical contractor specializing in plumbing, HVAC, mechanical piping, process piping, medical gas, sheet metal, and refrigeration. They have been using Trimble products since 2009. VDC Manager/Project Manager Jake Raulston re-joined the family company in 2018 after working as a geological engineer in deep water oil and gas.
Business Challenge: Simplify the use of 8+ Trimble solutions without disrupting the previous benefits realized: Increased bidding, more accurate material orders, simplified offsite spooling, easier submittals, effective trade coordination, and faster field installation.
- Trimble Construction One Suite, including:
- Estimating for Mechanical Contractors
- VDC Pro+
- ProjectSight for MEP
- Field Technology
- 100% revenue increase from 2020 to 2023
- 95% reduction in paper drawing sets
- 80% reduction in paper-based document management
- 20% reduction in cost through connected estimating, design, and procurement functions
It’s not hard to see what is behind T.S. Raulston’s phenomenal business growth in the last few years: Jake Raulston and his approach to technology.
“A lot of the waste in construction is from the repeated drawings — it’s the miscommunications, the amount of back-and-forth emails,” says Jake. “With connected construction, everyone gets involved in the process from the time it goes from the bid board to when it’s installed and beyond. That solves a major amount of disconnect between the engineers, designers, the office, and the field."
“Connected construction is about controlling the waste and cost, and allowing everyone together to be more efficient in less time.” - Jake Raulston, VDC Manager/Project Manager
Jake’s interest in optimizing technology for the job at hand came early in his career. He graduated from University of Mississippi as a geological engineer. Jake entered the oil industry in 2013. The market was not optimal for drilling and Jake was tasked with implementing smart technologies to support drilling faster, safer wells.
This hands-on building experience helped Jake see how he could apply technology to the physical world of construction. When he returned to the family business a few years later, “It was a perfect fit to migrate over into the construction world and start implementing technology here,” Jake explains.
Connecting Design, Detailing, Fabrication, and Procurement
T.S. Raulston had been successfully using Trimble’s estimating solutions for years by the time Jake started looking for a more integrated solution suite. He wanted to make the efficiency-killer of model version and application management a thing of the past.
He selected VDC Pro+, a design and detailing solution for MEP contractors that helps to design and collaborate on constructible models in Revit, then leverage model data to inform downstream processes. Jake also leveraged Connect2Fab, an application within Trimble Connect that connects design and fabrication solutions. It gives shop managers, field managers, BIM coordinators, and other stakeholders the ability to create and modify spools outside of traditional modeling software.
The benefits were quick to realize and impactful:
- Material ordering is right the first time
- Exact bidding within an hour
- Eliminate fabrication bottlenecks
- An average of 8 working day savings
Read more about the specifics of T.S. Raulston’s design and fabrication workflow here. Soon, Jake started transforming installation, design verification, model collaboration, and clash detection processes with the addition of more Trimble technology. But as he implemented each solution successfully and saw the efficiencies realized, it was also becoming harder to navigate between them all.
Trimble Construction One: A Turning Point for Technology Simplification
“After we visited Dimensions [Trimble’s annual user and tech conference] in 2022, we realized that with Trimble Construction One, there are many other solutions out there that could help us. That’s how we learned about Trimble Connect, ProjectSight, more estimation software, and about getting much of our software underneath one house with Trimble Construction One. It’s been a huge win for us.”
When Jake originally came back to the family business in 2018, there were 7 different license portals to log in. Different Trimble solutions like AutoBid or SiteVision were all hosted somewhere different and serviced by a different package. “With Trimble Construction One, we have one place that’s hosting the license. We have a one-stop shop to see, add, and remove users,” Jake explains.
Jake’s project management responsibilities have gotten easier as well. “We’re able to control the entire project from one platform for setting a project up. File folders and their structures automatically populate from ProjectSight into my other Trimble programs. It’s really a one stop-shop program that can create a job from start to finish,” Jake explains.
“Clicking a button creates a new job and opens up the entire communication across all programs.” - Jake Raulston, VDC Manager/Project Manager
Time Savings and Better Support
Using Trimble Construction One has also made it easier for Jake to do business with Trimble. “We used to have a lot of confusion on how to get a particular solution or who to go to for support from Trimble. With Trimble Construction One, I go to the website, type in my problem, and within 24 hours I’m connected with a team member who gets me my answer,” says Jake.
When it comes to interacting with the solutions, having them all housed within the TC1 suite has been a huge time-saver for Jake and his partners. “I have one login for every single device and program across the board. There’s no more confusion in having multiple passwords.”
Going into one connected system and controlling who has access to what is easier than it ever has been for Jake. “It’s been wonderful to give logins to our suppliers and our GCs. Every time we do a repeat job, they aren’t recreating logins for every single project. They’ve got one login source too.”
“We truly believe that having our partners in the platform, seeing and verifying the data, the better the project is going to run.” - Jake Raulston, VDC Manager/BIM Manager
The efficiencies apply to T.S. Raulston’s hardware as well. “Every single piece of equipment is one Trimble ID and we can go in and activate it and see all the data we need to see,” says Jake.
A Cutting Edge, Start-to-Finish Mechanical VDC Workflow
The streamlining and new ways of using technology has been great for Jake’s business. “We have been able to deliver better products to the customer, at a reduced cost and timeline,” he explains. “We’ve reduced 80% of paperwork in our document management. We’re saving 20% right off the top with more competitive bidding and smarter design. We’ve been able to double our revenues since we implemented connected construction. And, we are able to do so many things with the click of a button now — it’s really nice.”
Here is a brief overview of how T.S. Raulston uses Trimble technology to put them in this competitive position.
- Estimation and procurement with AutoBid + Trade Service Live
- Project management with ProjectSight
- Model coordination with SysQue + Trimble Connect
- Remote spooling with Connect2Fab + ProjectSight + Trimble Connect
- Verification of design and final deliverables with SiteVision + Total Station RTS + Fieldpoint
Building the The Next Generation of Jakes
Jake is optimistic about the impact of the technology ecosystem he has set up at T.S. Raulston. “The biggest advantage for us in using Trimble products has to do with labor. No longer do we bring in the younger generation, hand them a shovel and tape measure and hope they will stay. When we are able to show kids how to navigate a 3D model and spool together the pipes, they become fabricators. They aren’t just a pipefitter or HVAC contractor anymore — they are actually building something to model and using that technology.”
It’s been gratifying for Jake to give his crews in the field more knowledge and confidence in their work. He finds that the technology slims the language barrier between designers and field installation crews. “We have employees making suggestions on materials, spooling and fitting. It’s been great to see people who have never been involved in the process before able to make suggestions. It has made us more of a team.”