Over the past two years, GE Energy's Electrical Distribution Division has developed a Web-based tool. Project Assistant allows engineers to gather electrical distribution specs, drawings, and budget prices for a building in the planning stages in about 15 minutes. This process can normally take hours, days, or even weeks to complete.

Project Assistant estimates are designed to support buildings where the utility service is up to 4,000A at 480V for the United States (600V for Canada) with a 2MW maximum and is expected to cover about 90% of commercial and institutional new building projects.

"The simplicity of the Project Assistant's six steps will be a real benefit to engineers," says Lisa Bagwell, specification engineering manager at GE.

The Project Assistant’s six steps consist of registering or logging in, selecting a project type, selecting products, entering specifications, reviewing the summary, and collecting the results. The projects can be saved for future use in a password-protected database and drawings can be downloaded in PDF or DXF format for easy import into AutoCAD.