FabSuite Workflow – Importing a Bill of Materials

December 18, 2018

Previous blog posts for the FabSuite Workflow – adding a new Project Management job, saving documents, adding a project schedule and developing a Schedule of Values to be used with invoicing, all lead up to the natural next step to import the bill of materials into Production Control.  Shop detail drawings will be added later in Project Management.  Know that it is not mandatory to follow these steps in exactly this order, but the work flow here is based upon a normal workflow for most fabricators.

This blog post for importing is intended to explain the following:

  • FabSuite shape designators or acronyms
  • How to view and send the shape list to your detailer
  • How to find the unrecognized shape
  • How to select a shape translator
  • How to continue importing without selecting a recognized shape

Importing the bill of materials to a Production Control is a simple process, though new users may experience some minor challenges with the material call outs on the shop drawing bill of materials.  This is common.  I first will explain why, and then will provide some suggestions for a solution and some ideas on prevention.

FabSuite has a list of material shape designators or acronyms shown in the window for Shapes/Grades/Sizes.  See them listed under ‘Shape’ in the window below:







These material acronyms are what the program looks for when importing a bill of materials.   Steel Detailers, unaware of the FabSuite data base for Shapes/Grades/Sizes, may have their own material call outs or acronyms.

Some acronyms are common, like ‘W’ for wide flange and ‘HSS’ for tube steel.  Materials like high strength bolts Fabsuite sees as ‘HS’ and A307 grade bolts are ‘BO’ or even ‘EXB’ for expansion anchors.  When an unfamiliar designator is detected, FabSuite will stall an import and ask for a translation.  When a translation is provided, the import continues.  All this is really quite simple but when you are first learning a program frustration comes easy.  Take heart, this document is an effort to help you through those times.

When FabSuite stalls an import for a translation, it is usually caused by something simple.  I will use ‘Bar’ for example.  The word bar might mean round bar, square bar, flat bar or rebar, but the detailer is using a universal word for what computers require a specific reference.

When detailers use the word ‘Bar’, followed by ¼ x 4 – we know this really means ‘Flat Bar’. Or ‘Bar’ followed by ½”, we know this means ½” round bar.  Computers require specific categories for cataloging the materials.  FabSuite not only has a system for categorizing materials, the program also has the ability to make associations thru translations, and saves that data for future reference.  The intent of this ‘translations’ program feature is designed to support importing material bills made by different detailers, each with their own set of designators for material call outs.

We will see the program request a translation during the presented import example and I will provide a temporary solution and suggestion.

While importing, users may also look at the shop drawing for the unrecognized item; provide the translation by selecting the FabSuite recognized shape designator or acronym while working in the import translation window, thus preventing any future problems with that specific detailer’s call outs.  During the import, you will see the opportunity for providing a shape selection in the translation window.

However, I have to tell you that such issues with translations may be prevented by sending the detailer a list of FabSuite recognized shapes. To get to the list of shapes, click the ‘Maintenance’ drop down, and then click to select ‘Shape/Grade/Sizes’, opening the window.







With the window opens, click the drop down for ‘Shape/Grade/Size Maintenance’.  Click ‘Reports’.  The list for ‘Shape’ will include all items currently in the FabSuite data base.  This complete list may be more than is needed for your detailer at this time, though may be helpful for future reference.






You may decide to filter this report list of shapes for the items you commonly use.  Click the ‘Select’ button at the center right to open the ‘Filter’ window.  Move all items to the ‘Not Included’ side by clicking the double left pointing arrows, and then double click selected items to move them to the ‘Included’ side.









Click ‘OK’ when finished, returning to the ‘Report Filters’ window.  Click to highlgiht or select the report, and then click the ‘View’ button at the bottom.






If Outlook is your standard email, you may email this list directly to your detailer by clicking the ‘Email PDF’ button.  Your email will open to a new email window with the list attached as a PDF.






When not using Outlook, click the ‘Export’ button at the far left to open the export window, export the report to a place where you may attach and send using your other email.









OK – with the preliminary explanations out of the way, we will continue with the import instructions as promised.  First, close all other FabSuite windows.  Click the ‘File’ drop down and then click on ‘Import’, opening the Import window.






In the Import window, click to highlight the File type, and then click the blue square to the right of the file directory bar at the top right, opening the File selection window. Browse to the file and click on it:








Click the ‘Import’ button. File importing begins immediately.  You may watch the import window during this activity to view progress.  Opening next is the Production Control Job Edit window – enter the Project Management job number which you have been using for your documents you had already set up.  This then links the new Production Control job to the Project Management job. Click ‘Save’ to continue.








The next window to open is the ‘Select’, window.  Click on the selection which identifies the Main Mark use – in this case, the drawing number is the same as the Main Mark number, so the selection to use would be ‘Use Main Mark as drawing # – All’.  This association allows users to open the matching Project Management drawings in Production Control.




The next window is the ‘Translate Shape/Grades’.  This means that the FabSuite data base does not currently have a specific item in Shapes/Grades.  I have typed in ‘CO’ in the ‘New Shape’ field as a temporary place holder so the import may continue. The acronym ‘CO’ means ‘Comment’.  Anything unrecognized by the program may be imported as a ‘CO’ or ‘Comment’ item.  FabSuite will then import this item, and we may later change the unrecognized item into something which is recognized by the program in the Production Control job.


When the ‘Translate Shape/Grades’ window opens, look to the box at the bottom right to find the drawing number, main mark and piece mark of the unrecognized item.

Review that drawing, locate item, and then select a recognized shape in the ‘New Shape’ field, and then click the ‘Set Shape/Grade’ button to save.   Click ‘OK’ to continue importing.




After the new shape has been entered, click ‘Set Shape/Grade’, and then click ‘OK’ to continue importing.

When finished with translations, Fabsuite continues with the import.  The next window which opens involves the shop detail drawings and CNC files as these may be imported at the same time as the bill of materials.  We will be importing drawings directly into Project Management and the CNC files into Production Control later.  Moving on, we are going to click the ‘OK’ button to skip that step and continue with the import.






The ‘Message’ window is opened to let you know that the drawings are not being imported; we know this, so we click the ‘OK’ button to continue.




The next message window lists all of the items which may have CNC files.  We are not importing these at this instance, so we click ‘OK’ to continue.




The program will then complete the import, and the result then shows in the Import window.  The message in the center of the window shows the ‘Import Completed.  The Import Log is saved in your FabSuite Import folder for future reference, identified by date/time stamp.








You may now go open the Production Control job to see the material list.








I have explained the following in this blog post:

  • FabSuite shape designators or acronyms
  • How to view and send the shape list to your detailer
  • How to find the unrecognized shape
  • How to select a shape translator
  • How to continue importing without selecting a recognized shape

Remember that is you feel like you’ve messed up an import, you can always delete it and start over.

This instruction for importing a bill of materials is longer than most due to the very necessary explanations for dealing with special conditions, so I am stopping here, and will continue with importing the shop drawings in the next blog post.

For those of you who want to move on without waiting, there are the step-by-step instructions for importing drawings at the Blog entry for ‘Project Management – Adding Drawings to the Drawing Log’ dated April 11, 2017, already available.  Happy Importing!

Previous Article
FabSuite Workflow – Continuing in Project Management with Contract & Invoicing
FabSuite Workflow – Continuing in Project Management with Contract & Invoicing

Next Article
FabSuite Workflow – Adding shop drawings to the Drawing Log in Project Management
FabSuite Workflow – Adding shop drawings to the Drawing Log in Project Management

For this installment, we will work on importing the PDF shop detail drawings for the Project Management job.