Plans on Form

Written by
Hamish Thomson
Published on
March 2, 2023
A story of How Form1 Utilised PlanStudio to their Benefit

Form1 has been a collaborator to Locatrix for almost 10 years.  Initially using Locatrix’s services to draft and produce evacuation signs for their business, Form1’s founder and CEO Steve Shirlaw made it his business to learn and understand what Locatrix’s vision was then and has been a customer, come Partner ever since.

Form1 live by their motto “passionate about people and serious about safety” and like Locatrix, their culture is strong and all about its people.  Form1’s story is one of growth and great success, doubling its size since 2017 whilst maintaining an enviable reputation within the industry.

Steve was the first customer that Locatrix’s CEO John Hummelstad shared the concept of PlanStudio, seeking Steve’s advice on whether or not it should be shared among the fire industry of Australia.  It was Steve’s sharp and positive reaction that confirmed John’s belief to change his then business model of B2C to a B2B business.  What quickly followed was John and the Board of Directors decision that PlanStudio was best laid in the hands of our once Competitors, enabling Fire professionals to create their own indoor mapping service producing evacuation signs in a bid to improve efficiencies, provide better quality to customers but above all, to work together as an industry to improve safety.

What first came to mind when John showed me the program was that the opportunities were endless.  Primarily my thoughts switched to the fact that this program was not about evacuation plans but about assets.  In putting it to use for Form1, I could see that we could use the floor plan to provide drawings for any asset across an entire site.  Whether it be an evacuation plan, fire alarm block plan, fire dampers, air conditioning - the list goes on. And today, that is the beauty of the program, it is flexible and can be adapted to your needs with the technical support that sits behind”.

Since 2019 when PlanStudio was formerly launched, Form1 have slowly graduated from commissioning Locatrix to produce all plans from beginning to publish, then moving onto employing their own staff to complete mark ups, requiring Locatrix to provide pre-drafted plans to now having employed a full-time resource Brent Holliday as Drafting Team Leader at Form1.  Brent now uses PlanStudio as his main application for Drafting, from beginning to end, full drafting to publishing in-house.

This graph shows the story over time of signs published. The red being Locatrix drafting team support and blue being Brent’s efforts, Form1 shortening production and improving efficiency by taking complete ownership and production.

Brent is a sign maker by trade and grew up in South Africa.

“Many years ago, when I first started working, the signage company I worked for manufactured back of door evacuation plans for the hotel/hospitality industry.

“We redrew the floors in CorelDRAW, printed them onto different materials and installed behind the room doors in the hotels and common areas, each room and egress path had to be manually marked and drawn in.  It was very time consuming. I’ve attached a photo of a plan I found from the early 90’s.. as you can see all the information was very basic”.

“I am now the Drafting Team Leader at Form1 and look after all the evacuation diagrams, zone block plans, most of the hydrant block plans and we also offer an array of specialised drawings that our clients are looking for. All of these can be created in PlanStudio.”

“Learning PlanStudio in the beginning was easy, the more you understand why and how the program was developed to be used, the more it benefited the user. PlanStudio is an awesome program and very user friendly, making changes on the move and can be setup to suit your additional requirements per drawing requests. The whole process from setting up the site to publishing the final diagram gets easier the more you use it, the final process to publish your diagrams takes the longest, the bigger the floors/buildings the more fire equipment is shown on the diagram, you spend a bit of time tweaking it to make it look correct. The greatest advantage is that when you update anything in the building/floor … add a Fire Blanket on Level 1, it updates all the diagrams waiting to be published.

“During my training days in the beginning, Locatrix support and training programs where first class and they were always there to assist and help. It wasn’t long after that, I was drawing up evacuation diagrams with ease and had confidence in the software, it takes a lot of the thinking out of what must be done”.

“My biggest advantage is that I am involved in the process from the beginning, from walking the site to see where everything is and then to draw up the diagrams in PlanStudio, you get to visually see the layout, exits, diagram positions where and how to get to the assembly areas and answer/ask any questions regarding the site’s emergency management plan. This is made easier with the use of a tablet and can all be done on site while walking around.

“Whether you would like to be involved as much as I am, be the drafting person only or attend sites with the tablet doing mark-ups the whole PlanStudio platform can accommodated your company’s requirements”.

“I like the development that is being made for the evacuation diagrams but feel that the so much more can be done for other templates like Zone, Hydrant, Detector, Door, Damper etc… I know that Form1 may be unique and that we offer almost any form of diagram and more, but it has been a great introduction into Fire Industry as to what is required across all drawing/plans. It’s been a big learning curve and don’t think many companies offer this diverse range”.

As you can see from this use case, Locatrix is keen to work with its Partners and provide support and assistance depending on what the Partner needs to deliver the outcome.  We are also keen to listen to the end user, welcoming suggestions to further develop PlanStudio to do more are always included on our Roadmap for development.  We have a team of 11 highly skilled software engineers, all working to deliver continuous improvement to our product base.

Thank you, Steve, Brent and the team at Form1.  Yours is a partnership that is very important to us.

Book a PlanStudio Demo