On June 18th, 2012, Autodesk announced the addition of BIM to the Autodesk 360 cloud services. “Autodesk BIM 360 provides anywhere, anytime access to building and civil infrastructure projects” stated the company press release.
The new set of services is geared towards the building construction and infrastructure industries, providing collaboration to team members no matter where they are in the world, or which Autodesk BIM software they are using. Most of us know about Autodesk PLM 360 by now, and Scott and I have been all over it this year. I wondered when Autodesk would move the infrastructure collaboration to Autodesk 360. It looks like that is beginning to happen.
Autodesk BIM 360
- Transform the way customers work
- Access project files anytime, from anywhere
- Improve collaboration throughout the project lifecycle
- Accelerate innovation and free up resources
The BIM 360 offering will include the following segments:
- Clash Detection, Coordination, and Collaboration
- Field Management, Commissioning, and Hand-Over
- Conceptual Design and Feasibility Evaluation
Additionally services from the existing Autodesk 360 are
- Structural and Energy Analysis
In the announcement webcast, Amar Hanspal, Sr Vice President of Information Modeling & Platform Products Group, said that “…we are also broadening what is being held at the center of the information development process to being about the entire project. Our hope is that BIM 360 will transform the way that contractors, owners, architects and engineers will communicate and collaborate, and ultimately execute their projects, and will result in greater predictability and transparency during the construction process.”
BIM 360 Glue
BIM 360 Glue is an easy to use cloud based interface that allows team members to combine their BIM model data in a collaborative environment. Here coordination and clash detection can be performed using data from over 50 file formats. Autodesk went on to say that the environment permits round trip model transfer with AutoCAD, Revit, Civil 3D and Navisworks.
Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler
Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler permit users to combine their BIM model data in an environment designed to handle very large and expansive models to promote collaboration at the conceptual phase of the design. Autodesk states that users can access, download and edit the shared data simultaneously.
Cloud Rendering and Structural Analysis
These services have been available on Autodesk 360 for some time, but have always excluded the civil infrastructure community. The new inclusion seems to center around Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler, where AutoCAD Civil 3D users, among others, can continue to improve their conceptual designs. This is a great inclusion for the civil folks out there.
Structural Analysis is limited to the Revit family of products, and provides cloud computing power for structural design analysis. I suspect that the cloud computing services will be subject to the same type of cloud unit fees that the manufacturing users will pay.
The Vela Systems Acquisition
The recent acquisition of Vela Systems falls right in line with the Autodesk BIM 360 announcement, and is said to be combined with the new services in a manner in which will help contractors quality, safety, and commissioning checklist processes, as well as the ever painful distribution of construction plans.
This is where I see most of the current construction coordination benefit in BIM 360. Having current plans available on the fly and being able to coordinate rapidly with construction teams is a big issue, and I hope that these services will allow more contractors and project managers to engage the project in a team-centric manner. I think the mobile nature of the cloud will break through many of the barriers that I have experienced in the construction environment.
The question that remains is to what extent companies that use AutoCAD Civil 3D heavily, without infrastructure modeler will be able to benefit largely from Autodesk BIM 360. There were complaints that the tools only provide conceptual collaboration, and eventually the civil infrastructure model would have to be left behind, in order to engage the design with Civil 3D (where the conceptual information could not be utilized).
I am looking forward to more information in this respect. What I expect is that these services will expand in capabilities and grow together. Being cloud based, they are more likely to succeed where global software migration is concerned, not having separate hardware to fight, and being able to change on the fly. I expect capabilities to be broadened and enhanced along the way, with a special surprise at the end.