May 02, 2011
Autodesk’s AEC Media Day 2011 Report
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Since the planning process can take years longer than the design process, improving planning will then shorten the length of time it takes to get things done. Those small to medium firms are the target market for Design Suites, according to the company, with above 10 users.

In a Q&A session, executives said that the company is midway between integrating their web and desktop products so you won’t see some products, such as Constructware, yet.

The Cloud

Laura Gutwillig, senior manager of the Building Business Line, spoke on the topic of cloud computing. The possibilities she outlined applied to the design process and renderings. As geospatial employs more visualization that is CPU-intensive, then users will be looking for cloud computing offerings to free up computer power and boost productivity.

BIM in the building lifecycle

Jim Lynch, vice president, Building and Strategic Technologies, stated that there are several components driving Autodesk’s strategy:

  • Demand for BIM – explosion of data more disciplines come online
  • Mandates both from government perspective and owner perspective, i.e. EU energy director requires by 2019 buildings are supposed to be at net zero energy, new buildings must be carbon neutral by that year.
  • Owners demand for BIM started around design and construction. Now they want it for Operations & Maintenance, where a larger amount of costs comes from
  • Contractors are driving the industry to BIM. For the contractor it’s about margins, they can better predict costs and understand the schedule and understand the project, and reduce waste.
  • Technology is playing a huge role in how the industry is moving to BIM, cloud computing, mobile computing are also players.
  • Strategy expanding our footprint of technology across the building lifecycle

Lynch said we must invest in new design technology but also retrofit and renovation.

The retrofit and renovation market will be a $400 billion market over the next 20 years. Worldwide, there are 200 million buildings that are candidates for retrofit and renovation projects. This creates a huge opportunity for design software firms and their customers. “We have to do different things in our products to support this process,” said Lynch.

Building Design Suite 2012

The contents of the Building Design Suite 2012 are as follows:
  • Standard Suite – AutoCAD workflow, Showcase, Sketchbook Designer
  • Premium Suite – AutoCAD & BIM (all three Revits) and 3ds Max Design. Small design firms need to do a little bit of everything, according to Lynch. Use case – contractors are using all three versions of Revit to model all the systems of the building.
  • Ultimate Suite – Takes both the Standard and Premium Suites and targets the contractor by adding Navisworks, Inventor and QTO. Why put a mechanical design tool in this suite? “As more parts of buildings get prefabricated, the need to get to detailed level of modeling in prefab, gets greater,” said Lynch. “Now building industry users use Inventor.”

The 2012 Design Suite has the following enhancements: Modeling enhancements, Analysis and Platform.

Last year customers had to bring point clouds painfully into Revit and then start converting point clouds into models, said Lynch. Now they can bring point clouds directly into Revit and users can start using them in models

In the past two years Autodesk has “overinvested” in the MEP business. MEP engineers have received pressure from their organizations to use BIM, and the products are ready for them. This area experienced double digit growth this year, and it was the last group to move along.

Analysis is one of the key areas that has interested MEP engineers, and others. Autodesk introduced CEA conceptual energy analysis release, and moved it into 2012 Revit. Project Vasari from Autodesk Labs conceptual design and analysis tools had over 12,000 downloads in the last four months.

Structural engineering experienced double digit growth last year, and this year has a highly improved analytical model. “We want to enable structural engineers to move more easily to structural analysis, we want to remove the difficulties for the structural engineer to do structural analysis. Our customers are using Robot analysis but may not be using Revit Structure more easily,” said Lynch. Another product delivered in the 2012 release is concrete reinforcement.

In the way of Platform enhancements, Autodesk has built out the Revit Platform and  improved performance of large models, and also invested heavily in the API. “20% more things are exposed in this release,” said Lynch. “More third party partners are coming online to use Revit API on top of their products.”

The Revit Gunslinger program is comprised of a large group of customers, MEP engineers, contractors, structural engineers, who are asked to bring real design data with them, with our project managers, designers, developers, etc. and use their project data on the new release. “The purpose is to get feedback on significant issues, did we get big misses, where do we need to go next in terms of what we’re delivering,” explained Lynch.

Customer gets early access to the product, and can go back and plan for what’s coming in future releases. This program runs all year.

Building Construction Highlights

The “design intent view” of building construction involves the following:
  • Construction modeling
  • Interoperability
  • collaboration

What construction has been missing is for architects’ designs to be accessible to contractors. A number of products are helping to make this possible: Revit Server was introduced last year, and Revit is Citrix ready which will allow access to this information remotely.

Navisworks satisfies the need to have all information in one place so that users can view the whole project, create walkthroughs, deliver understanding between engineers and project managers, simulation and analysis and 4D construction, and enable model viewing. In a separate interview Mark Strassman, vice president of Construction and Plant, quoted Georgia-Pacific as saying “Every RFI costs $50,000.” With that in mind, the ability to do interference checking and clash detection, visualization and analysis, plus QTO with links to costing and estimating applications, can save organizations an enormous amount of money in RFIs.

IFCs are a big part of construction projects that building professionals are expected to address. Autodesk has invested in both export and import capabilities in 2012 release, and moved export capability outside the API so customers can tweak IFC to their needs. 

Buzzsaw is expected to allow people to access Revit from their mobile device, and there will be more from Autodesk Mobile. Buzzsaw can also be synched on the cloud. By using conceptual energy analysis tool in Revit, users can get weather analysis for building performance, and ensure buildings are more sustainable.

Autodesk WikiHelp allows community to share best practices through both their peers and Autodesk itself. It’s not just static information, it’s dynamic and constantly evolving and updating. Not only users but also peers, can post videos and rate it. This reduces the number of locations one needs to go to to search for information.

Revit Structure 2012 can control the analytical model separate from the structural model. Users can run a proper analysis and visualize what is going on with the model. The new analytical model solves some roundtripping issues with the analytical software and can be visualized, printed and distributed.

There are 24 planar models in the software. In all Revit products, documentation has been included. This is a real plus for the construction industry as users can derive better information from the design model now to document shop drawings for construction – for precast walls, columns, beams and floors.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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