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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Autodesk AEC headquarters, Waltham, MA
Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 Report
By Susan Smith
At Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 held in Waltham, Mass. in March, the opening discussion revolved around the various Design Suites which now frame Autodesk products. According to Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, AEC Solutions, suites are a simplified way for customers to absorb their technologies. What the Suites are now: plant, building and infrastructure, and are sold in standard, premium and ultimate packages.
All the Revit products – Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, and Revit Structure are being sold in the same suite now. The reason is that there may be a need for a user to explore some of the other Revit tools even if he or she is mainly are an architect, MEP, or structural engineer. According to Autodesk, Revit is being used for concept design now.
The question was asked by executives, If you had it would you use it? Their contention is that most people would at least try the other products in the Suite if given the opportunity.
Autodesk has been working hard at moving away from selling individual “products” to selling “solutions”. That is difficult to do because their flagship AutoCAD by itself is incredibly popular. It doesn’t matter what you put in AutoCAD – 3D and other tools – users rely on AutoCAD for what it was originally intended for – 2D design and documentation.
Current sales reflect what most customers are interested in: collaboration, interoperability, Structural, Civil 3D, MEP and extended BIM.
This event was chock full of information. There was the feeling that executives had lived with the reality of some of these technologies for some time and that the visiting media were catching the thought train after it had been traveling for awhile. There were products that were not fully thought out, but whose promise was definitely appealing. It was unclear at many points in the presentations whether products discussed were currently available, available only on Autodesk Labs or were in the “technology” category which means they haven’t become a product yet.
Upon further investigation, Project Neon is a cloud technology on Labs, some new structural technology shown is in the “technology” phase, and Dasher is in the pilot phase and not on Labs. Topics included BIM for construction, BIM for analysis, the need to get concept energy and analysis data into an existing building, and doing 3D laser scans of buildings to get accurate data of existing conditions. BIM is expanding into water and wastewater and storm systems, management and routing, and analysis tools are built into that portfolio. Navisworks is where the BIM model comes together, and enables people to look at the whole project – create
walkthroughs, analysis, construction, simulation model viewing, clash detection and 4D scheduling.
BIM 360 is a new tool to be available in May “to provide AEC project teams with a view of their project wherever they are.” The entire AEC collaboration data solution includes BIM 360, Vault, and Buzzsaw.
Building Design Suite 2012 - Revit Architecture
Why introduce the new Design Suites?
Richard Harper, senior director of marketing, AEC Business, talked about the reason for the Design Suite approach. Autodesk did search studies across all their primary markets in multiple countries to settle on this strategy.
Suites promise customers:
- Reduced cost
- Improving compatibility
- Ability to update (e.g. patches and service packs) apps all at once
- Streamlines license management
- What customers are asking for:
- Flexibility to innovate
- Economical and convenient
- Comprehensive and sophisticated solution
The idea behind the Suites is to provide better access to technologies to deliver improved compatibility and workflows, so customers can move between products easily. All the Revits are in one box and the products are delivered on USB sticks instead of DVDs. The IT or CAD manager can decide by buying a portfolio of suites which desktops he wants to manage with what products. According to Autodesk, a customer using two or more products is going to see a great deal of benefit.
Autodesk Design Suites include focus on Plant, Building and Infrastructure.
They come in the following formats:
- Standard – AutoCAD based design and documentation
- Premium – BIM for Building, BIM for Infrastructure
- Ultimate – simulation and analysis
Collaboration and data management in AEC
Rick Rundell, senior director AEC Strategic Technology, said “Our vision is to provide AEC project teams with a view of their project wherever they are,” as projects are becoming more complex with more global distribution.
The answer to this problem is Autodesk’s new BIM 360, which is a data management system with the heart of Autodesk Vault.
Customers said they need the following:
- Enterprise – scalability for enterprise
- Project – on demand project collaborating
- Team - Viral team communication (social networking, ad hoc collaboration included)
What Autodesk BIM 360 offers is integration with the following: AutoCAD, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk Navisworks, Autodesk Revit applications and Buzzsaw cloud. With BIM 360, Autodesk has integrated Vault and Buzzsaw so that you can use it with people outside your firewall as well as those within it.
Features of BIM 360 include:
- Project based workflows
- Design tool integration (with Revit, Navisworks, Civil 3D)
- Scalability (new technology that allows files and database to be located across network)
- Cloud and mobile (synchronize Vault on the network and on cloud to get data outside your firewall to partners or others)
Building Design Suite – AutoCAD Structural Detailing
A lot of the information given about analysis used Civil 3D examples, probably because that product has grown in popularity over the past couple of years. Storm and wastewater is part of the Design Suite, and Civil 3D users can exchange information with storm and sanitary analysis to extend analysis.
New analysis capabilities in the Suites include Navisworks, which can be extended into construction sequencing – which is the ability to view your construction project in a new way – the Gantt view. For “what if” analysis you can pick it up and move it. It is not locked down to what came in from Microsoft Project or Primavera.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.