The use of PDF (portable document format) files has become nearly ubiquitous across a number of industries, including construction. The format allows AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) businesses to electronically distribute, view, and print all kinds of important information.

According to Océ North America, www.oce.com, Trumbull, Conn., a provider of document management, printing, and copying systems, the AEC industry can benefit from learning the ins and outs of managing PDF files. With a comprehensive, working knowledge of this format, Océ believes today’s construction companies can reduce road bumps and streamline crucial business processes.

For instance, Océ says not all PDF files are the same. Adobe, www.adobe.com, San Jose, Calif., has created numerous versions of its Acrobat software, adding new features that can cause confusion if users do not make an effort to understand the nuances of the software.

Océ suggests contractors familiarize themselves with common PDF problems that arise from multiple editions of Acrobat, such as missing fonts and poorly defined page boxes, both of which affect processing speed and printing accuracy.

The company also suggests AEC professionals to look out for how the use of color impacts processing time and if applicable, the final printed output. For instance, if a drawing is created in color but printed in black and white, problems can arise in printing when color is converted to grayscale.

Understanding common issues in handling PDF documents can equip AEC professionals to handle them when they arise. PDF platform technologies that integrate with construction processes can also help companies leverage this format.

Bluebeam Software Inc., www.bluebeam.com, Pasadena, Calif., offers solutions for paperless workflows based on the PDF format. Last week the company launched Bluebeam PDF Revu 9, the latest version of its PDF platform technology that allows contractors to create, mark up, edit, and manage PDFs.

Revu 9 offers enhanced features such as 3D viewing, VisualSearch, measurement cutout, and foreign language support. The new 3D PDF viewing capability allows users to navigate complex models onscreen for a dynamic view of the project.

The VisualSearch function adds a new dimension to document search, allowing contractors to highlight a specific visual element and search across open documents, recent documents, or specific folders. Revu 9 has also added area cutouts to its takeoff tools to account for room obstructions in area measurements and create more accurate estimates.

Technology that is intuitive and easy to use helps save time and money for businesses willing to put in some initial effort to understanding the solution. Leveraging PDF-based solutions in construction not only improves workflow, but it can also boost teams’ ability to collaborate, and can even help switch to paperless operations.