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From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 25 No 05 - June/July 2012
Autodesk views its new cloud based service, BIM 360, as heralding the next generation of Building Information Modelling
I was going to write about Autodesk 360, the cloud based multi-discipline collaboration service, but the company launched an updated version yesterday for the AEC industry - Autodesk BIM 360 - giving me an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Autodesk 360 is a cloud-based platform that enables customers to harness the vast computing power available in the cloud to transform the way they design, visualize and simulate their ideas and share their work. Earlier this year, the company launched Autodesk PLM 360 lifecycle management software, a cloud service that enables manufacturers to better access and manage product information. Autodesk 360 services were also made available for Autodesk Design and Creation Suite customers. Since launching Autodesk 360 in September 2011, nearly nine million users have accessed the services.
Autodesk portrays Autodesk BIM 360 as the next generation of Building Information Modelling, giving all members of a building project access anytime, from anywhere, to all information available about the project throughout the whole of the project's lifecycle. It is designed to work with all of Autodesk's solutions for the design, construction and operation of a building, and will include the Autodesk Building Design Suite and the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite. Principally, though, its residence on the cloud allows architects, engineers, owners and contractors to collaborate in real time - from exploring design concepts, creating infrastructure studies, reviewing proposals to preparing building information for handover to clients and users.
Autodesk already has a number of cloud based services available to AEC professionals, providing tools for rendering, structural analysis and energy analysis. BIM 360 adds three more significant services covering conceptual design and infrastructure studies, clash detection collaboration and field management and commissioning.
Clash detection is seen as a growing issue where multi-disciplinary teams attempt to collaborate on projects in real time. As construction projects tend to be operated on tighter margins, and where time is money, the ability to run cloud based evaluation of building projects using Autodesk BIM 360 Glue means teams are able to pinpoint likely errors and bottlenecks, and propose solutions jointly in real time. Autodesk BIM 360 Glue integrates with both Revit and Navisworks, the latter providing time based navigation and evaluation of building models.
Field Management, commissioning and handover, may appear to be a new Autodesk tool. The developers of the cloud and mobile field management software for the construction industry, Vela Systems, were only acquired by Autodesk earlier this month, but the application is already in use with Autodesk users, and is now integrated within BIM 360, bringing the BIM process to the project building site, and helping contractors to automate field processes such as quality, safety and commissioning checklists and distribution of plans and drawings.
Field management software improves project profitability by reducing risks, accelerating programme schedules and streamlining O&M workflows. It combines intelligent BIM services with full mobile access, providing a means whereby intelligent data can be gathered in the field and uploaded to the cloud based BIM model to provide accurate evaluations of progress in preparation for the handover of the project as a fully documented structure. The management process is assisted by easy to use custom created dashboards.
Concept Design and Feasibility Evaluation
Using BIM 360 Infrastructure Modeller, architects, civil engineers, transportation and urban planning professionals and their entire teams to publish, store and manage models in the cloud, inviting geographically dispersed teams to explore design concepts, create and review proposals and conduct feasibility evaluations. Using the cloud provides greater freedom to handle larger models, or to test multiple models as project proposals using the same core data.
Already running as a cloud based service, and hailed as the first cloud based structural analysis tool for the AEC industry, the move of simulation from the desktop to the cloud provides engineers with the ability to conduct more and larger analyses, and to explore more design options at an earlier stage in the design process. Transferring the processing requirements from the desktop to the cloud also frees up local workstations for more productive design work.
Another cloud based service that already exists for architects, who are being asked to provide more accurate energy analysis alongside their designs. Actually BIM 360 will provide two energy simulation services - Green Building Studio, which is already well used within the industry, and now BIM 360 Energy Analysis, both of which can be used in the drive towards zero net energy construction. The tools can be used to simulate lifetime requirements or cyclic creation, usage or emission of water, energy, fuels and carbon.
Using the cloud for rendering purposes improves user workflows tremendously, allowing them to free up workstations, and, because the process is basically outsourced, to launch more renders, in terms of both quantity and quality. Since the cloud based service was launched last year, Autodesk users have submitted over 100k jobs, amounting to 3.3 million rendering hours.
According to Amar Hanspal, Autodesk senior vice president, information modeling products, "Cloud-connected workflows are giving our customers worldwide a better way to work with colleagues across their organizations and with business partners, clients and stakeholders. Autodesk BIM 360, the next generation of BIM", he added, "will revolutionize the way building and infrastructure owners, designers, engineers and contractors create, share and use project information."
Autodesk BIM 360 is available straight away, although you will have to consult your Autodesk supplier about the different terms of availability and usage, as some services may be available exclusively for Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite 2013 and Autodesk Building Design Suite 2013 subscription customers, and prices might vary by product. Visit the website, below to learn more.
Finally, endorsements from early users. "Using Autodesk BIM 360 with the Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite, we have been able to share our early design concepts to better evaluate feasibility on our infrastructure projects," said Keith Warren, Virtual Design Technology Manager at VTN Consulting. "This has been a great addition to what we can already do with our Autodesk products and has extended our ability to share even the largest models more efficiently with remote teams."
"Time is money, especially in the construction world, and every owner wants more value for their money. Autodesk BIM 360 is a key tool that helps us accomplish this," said Weston Tanner, Virtual Construction Manager, The Walsh Group.
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