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The ATS Story featured in July’s Issue of Plumbing Engineer!

Click here to read the original article featured in Page 72 of Plumbing Engineer’s July 2012 issue.

If you ask a plumbing designer or specification writer “What is it like at the 11th hour to prepare a plumbing specification,” they will likely say that “If I don’t have time, I copy and paste from an old job, and deal with the mistakes later, or on addendum.” Early in his career as a plumbing designer, specification writer, and project manager, Lou Petro, founder of Allied Technical Services (“ATS”), discovered the process of packaging specifications can be dreadfully time consuming and tedious. Putting a complete and accurate plumbing specification together has always posed many challenges. From making changes on addendum, to using out-of-date office masters, many designers who build specifications “The Old Way” run into numerous setbacks. These insights and experiences inspired Lou to develop plumbing specification tools that have since helped thousands of engineers and plumbing designers streamline the plumbing specification process.

In 1969, with the blessing of Ted Crossey, Lou Petro left Crossey Engineering and launched ATS with one overriding goal in mind: to provide the Metro Toronto design community with the most comprehensive plumbing specification service on the market. Through the sponsorship of the leading industry manufacturers, Lou was able to focus his efforts on providing plumbing specification support to other commercial plumbing design professionals via face-to-face meetings and the telephone. Pioneering change with the ATS Manual, a revolutionary tool that provided a code compliant and standardized Master Plumbing specification to the industry, Lou was able to help other engineers overcome many of the difficulties encountered in building their plumbing specification package. Armed with a mechanical engineering background, Lou truly understood the hurdles that engineers experienced on their projects, and committed himself to solving them by making the specification process easier.

ATS' North American Coverage
Following the success of the Manual and ATS’ exceptional customer service, ATS expanded its coverage area over the next 15 years to span all of the Greater Toronto Area, with further expansion naturally occurring as Engineers and Designers using ATS’ Spec Services moved to other areas. However, the ATS Manual was physically limiting, as it was becoming difficult to organize and serve clients from around the country with varying needs and building codes.

Realizing the potential of taking ATS online, Bill Petro, President of ATS, leveraged the power of the Internet, through engineering, software development and marketing, and developed ATS as the community knows it today. Pioneering the transformation of the ATS Manual into an online plumbing specification system, ATS’ Spec System and Services focus on connecting the mechanical design community’s commercial building requirements with leading manufacturers’ product information. In turn, the ATS Spec system now allows engineers and designers to conveniently review manufacturers’ product details in order to build a complete and accurate plumbing specification package in a fraction of the time. Packages can now be further customized to include drawings, written specs, fixture schedules, design details (including 2D, 3D BIM and combined 3D BIM families) budget pricing, and much more. Depending on the design firm’s requirements, designers can access a variety of downloadable formats that can be shared, saved, and printed directly from ATS Spec. The move from a traditionally local service, to an online platform, has not only addressed the setbacks many designers faced at the 11th hour, but has also evolved to address the concerns of interoperability between the various stakeholders involved with a building’s specific plumbing package.

With the recent growth of construction technology, and the green movement, specifications and available product selections are now required to be more diverse. Engineers are now expected to provide innovative solutions to reduce environmental impact and encourage sustainable practices. Rainwater harvesting, BIM, and LEED certification, are all relevant topics today. Which, ATS has continued to address through the implementation of tools such as a LEED contribution calculator, system schematics and algorithms for sizing and packaging various plumbing equipment, like rainwater harvesting. By doing so, ATS truly provides tools and solutions requested by, and built for the specification community.

ATS' step by step specification processIn conjunction with these advancements, ATS has recently also introduced a new ‘rule-based’ system and specification building selection process. With over 5 million spec combinations and data packages’ populating the first version of their systems, functionality was impacted as over 1000 engineers per day would query all of this data, slowing down response time. As such, ATS’ new rule-based system was developed, in order to deliver an improved user experience and give users the freedom to specify all possible and compatible product combinations most suitable to their application. The ATS Spec System now also accounts for major building code nuances, and enables users to further understand the “whys” of specifying certain products. For example, “what” is a MaP test rating, and “why” a stainless steel toilet is recommended for a bariatric application.

There are many reasons why design professionals use ATS. Some of the major benefits include:

Time-Saving Tools: ATS Spec tools such as Copy, Edit, Direct E-mail, Design Details, LEED Contribution Calculators, Budget Pricing, and various System Schematic Designs, are available to assist with the specification process.

ATS' Multiple download formatsComplete and Customized Plumbing Specifications Packages: Upon building a plumbing specification with ATS, users can conveniently download their specifications in multiple formats including plumbing fixture schedules, long spec with drawings, CSI, Division 22, and many more. The advantage with these packages is that no additional text editing is required, and they can be further customized to include items like a firms’ logo and contact information.

BIM Spec Services: To help engineers save even more time, ATS has expanded their service offerings to include all available BIM models for products specified in projects. With an extensive library of over 10,000 combined 3D BIM families, and new combinations added daily, there is a BIM file for every application and project. By creating combined 3D BIM families, ATS’ BIM files are nested with all the components and connections required to be conveniently downloaded and dropped right into a BIM project (i.e.: Toilet fixture nested with the appropriate carrier, toilet seat, and flush valve).

ATS is also pioneering the new standard for quality BIM content, by creating all files from scratch in Revit, in order to minimize lines and unnecessary detail, while maintaining manufacturer family integrity. The result — greater usability, and smaller file sizes. Detailed BIM models can also be created on-demand for any of our Sponsors’ products that are currently unavailable on our systems, through the “ATS BIM On-Demand Specification Service”. This revolutionary commitment to service in the design industry ensures any BIM designer finally receives the product content support they need. As always, ATS BIM files are all available for free.


Complete and accurate Master or Project Specifications: As soon as a product manufacturer makes a product change, designers using ATS Spec are notified of the specification update to their project. This means no more out-of-date plumbing spec masters or office standard specifications, and specifiers no longer having to deal with mistakes, discontinuances, and out-of-date product specifications on addendum.

Management and Administration Capabilities: To provide greater control and security, ATS has also introduced firm and user management features with permissions settings, to handle intercompany users and projects, including the ability to view design details, copy and edit specs, or share specs directly via e-mail.

With a free-to-use model, sponsored by the leading manufacturers of the plumbing industry, the ATS Spec online specification system is an invaluable tool to save time and money. ATS has continued to expand its service offerings, and include new product categories, to allow greater flexibility and a wider selection of equipment during the specification process, giving users more options and flexibility.

Moving forward, ATS is currently developing the next evolution of its specification platform, the Visual Spec Builder (VSB), set to launch in the 3rd quarter of 2012. VSB seeks to revolutionize the specification process, by allowing users to create complete, fully customized, and accurate specifications, in real time, visually. ATS’ VSB gives designers the ability to see their color palettes, fixtures, fittings, and product selection decisions, instantly come to life. All products specified are building code compliant, and complete with budget pricing, written specifications and available BIM models, ready for download, all for free.

By simplifying the specification process of code compliant, and compatible products, and providing the user with the ability to build a complete, customized and accurate specification ‘visually’, ATS hopes their VSB platform will continue to increase communication and simplify the workflow between architects, designers, and engineers, streamlining the process from design, to specification.

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