Armatures Bois-Francs

Estimation software


A pillar in the transformation and installation of reinforcing steel (rebar) and metal gauze, Armatures Bois-Francs (ABF) also undertake the delivery and management of more than 400 residential, commercial, institutional and civil engineering projects every year. Founded in 1976 in Victoriaville, the company now has two offices in Québec and one in Ontario extending their presence thru western Canada.

In the goal of improving performance and remain the leader in their field, Armatures Bois-Francs decided to make changes in their project management for the manufacture and installation of reinforcing steel.

Relying on Nmédia’s expertise, Excalibur was designed to cover inventory services as well as everything related to estimation of steel quantities or costs associated with projects, allowing for never-before-seen efficiency. In response to these changes, the company can more easily, effectively and quickly respond on bidding opportunities while more efficiently managing steel inventories.

Armature Bois-Francs
Armature Bois-Francs
Armature Bois-Francs
Armature Bois-Francs


Estimating the quantities of steel necessary for projects and following up on these estimates require a great deal of time and organization. In addition, it is important to quickly and accurately know the quantities of steel available in inventory in order to avoid shortages during production.

To become a leader in their domain, ABF had existing solutions in place; however, their growth and long-term vision led them to understand that these solutions were not at all adequate. The software’s lack of flexibility created barriers against various advancements to the point where employees often resorted to paper and Excel files, making the process of generating reports a long and tedious task where the work was often doubled. These factors increased the risk for human errors due to lack of verification. Efficiency had disappeared, yet creating the necessary changes required a near wholesale system change and because certain technologies used were obsolete, the price tag for solving all the problems efficiently risked being very high.

ABF needed a new system allowing them to increase the productivity of each and every employee involved in the steel estimation process, eliminating doubled work and centralizing all information in one place in order to allow the various parties to follow up quickly, simply and knowledgeably. The solution also needed to easily evolve and adapt to eventual changes within the business and the domain while using adequate technology.


Excalibur is one sole application divided into different sections and based on service-oriented architecture (SOA), with each section representing a business concept such as estimation and inventory. They all use the same technology including Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Microsoft .NET 4.0, Entity Framework 4.0, SQL Server as well as SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). Communication with Outlook simplifies follow-up operations for users. Finally, Nms.Core, a proprietary technology of Nmédia, is greatly used across the application.

For the inventory section, an additional application was developed to be executed by mobile barcode readers. Based on the Windows CE platform, this section uses .NET Compact Framework 3.5 as well as Windows Forms. WIFI wireless communication is done through an online service located on a Windows server installed on site at ABF. A robust mechanism needed to be put in place to avoid losing information in the case of lost network connection due to the distance between antennae and interference caused by the numerous piles of steel on site.

The application, while being installed directly on site, is used remotely by estimators located across Québec. The connection with the database and the reporting server is made via a VPN network. In order to avoid creating more work for the IT technician at ABF, updates are automatically installed on the user post upon login thanks to Microsoft ClickOnce.



  • Simplification of the bidding process while accelerating work execution necessary to the project. The application functions thanks to the estimation module based on optimized work methods and offering more information than previously.
  • Follow-up for numerous projects and contractors was greatly improved by creating an interface allowing quick access to all information required, for anyone authorized.
  • Easy-to-understand solution for newcomers.

Number of estimations per estimator

Before: 166
After: 278
A productivity increase of nearly 170%.

Number of estimations generated per person

Before: 1100
After: 3000
A productivity increase of nearly 280%.

Now, it takes 3x less time to accomplish a task.

As a bonus, with the wireless barcode reader, it is now quick and easy to add or subtract inventory materials without physically changing location.

Armature Bois-Francs’ Excalibur was nominated to the 2014 OCTAS in the category « Business Solutions – Internal or custom development ».

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