Autodesk, Inc: Reinventing Construction through Innovation

Amar Hanspal, SVP, IPG Product Group In today’s construction world , visualizi ng a concept or design of a structure is more complicated than glancing at a few sketches on paper and cardboa rd diorama. Technology has enabled several ways to visualize desig ns of objects and structures even before they are built or constructed. Amar Hanspal, SVP of IPG Product G roup, Autodesk [ NASDAQ:A DSK] takes a quick travel back in time to the era of pre-indu strial revolution and draws out a picturesque evolution of the construct ion world. “Artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci through their sketches and drawings conveyed ideas and gave insights on ways to build a structure or an object. The sketches served as architectural plans to communicate and coordinate the task of building,” exalts Hanspal. But much has changed in the present time. “People are flying drones over the construction site and using 3D printing and 3D scanning software, the Internet of Things (IoT), and smart devices to capture ideas to devise, design, and build mega structures,” he extols. Technology another extension of artistic creativity—has played its quintessential role of disrupting every industry, leaving no stone unturned to break down complexities.

However, revolutionary changes in the construction arena can be quite rare. “If changes do occur, they are instigated by the confluence of new trends like cloud, additive manufacturing, and the proliferation of smart devices and mobile,” Hanspal opines. “On the whole, we are heading to a futuristic world of change by adoption of new-age modeling and digital solutions.”

Autodesk is a company born in disruption. “We developed AutoCAD, a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, and led the ‘Era of Documentation’ by moving 2D designs onto computers,” says Hanspal. This software tool swept across the construction and manufacturing industries and simplified and automated the labor-intensive job of sketching and designing. Then around 2003 emerged the ‘Era of Optimization’ and Building Information Modeling (BIM) which Autodesk welcomed by developing its Revit software. This helped construction experts visualize an accurate, digitized version of the physical world.

Finally, we were left with the last mile; to connect all the participants and players involved in a project with appropriate, accurate, and timely information,” adds Hanspal. In this ‘Era of Connection,’ the applications and solutions connecting a community of people to 3D models were developed that redefined consumption and production processes. Autodesk then turned to Cloud to harness its benefits, embedding it into its solutions to bring in agility as well the combo of communication, collaboration, and coordination in the construction landscape. Hanspal emphasizes that BIM is an intelligent model-based design process that adds value across the entire lifecycle of building and infrastructure projects. “This is what we have been doing in the last three decades,” Hanspal explains attributing to the sudden shift of construction companies to adhere latest technology innovations.
“Today, it is encouraging to see many construction companies thinking beyond conventional paradigms,” he adds. In fact, many of these firms now have their own CIOs who think through strategies to implement solutions that streamline workflows, manage supply chain, material purchases, customers, as well as harness technical expertise. However, absorbing latest technologies in a cost-effective manner has been a primary challenge to many CIOs. Autodesk, by infusing many recent technology trends has helped construction companies to whisk past these hurdles with its plethora of offerings for construction modelling, estimating, coordination, planning and logistics, prefabrication, field management, field layout, and collaboration and data management.

We strongly emphasize on democratizing technology and making it accessible for millions of people

Spearheading through 3D Software

The company’s range of solutions demystify the construction process in two ways—virtually describing what is going to be on the physical side of construction and by helping companies think through all the aspects of project execution. Autodesk has long professed that their software helps users and owners “experience their projects before they are real!”

Autodesk’s Building Design Suite encompasses AutoCAD, Revit, Navisworks, and ReCap. This interoperable building design software supports Autodesk’s flagship BIM and CAD-based offerings to pre-plan and manage workflows before the construction stage. The firm empowers construction companies and architects to conceive ideas, iterate new techniques, and collaboratively assess projects from cost estimation, project delivery timelines, and material usage standpoint as well as determine design gaps.

Redefining Project Execution with BIM 360

Upon helping a client with a digital design model that can be used as a reference, Autodesk also engages in identifying and tracking the steps that are necessary from sub-contracted coordination, change orders, and daily reports. BIM360, Autodesk’s fastest growing cloud software portfolio which consists of BIM 360 Glue, BIM 360 Field, BIM 360 Plan, and Building Ops—allows anytime, anywhere access to construction data throughout the project lifecycle—preconstruction, execution, commissioning, and handover. It also helps users introspect and act depending on to the status of the construction projects.

More than a mere design tool, the BIM 360 stack is an information repository where communication and collaboration of design drawings and project blueprints are stored and disseminated. “In short, it would be apt to call it a project execution tool. It comprises eight modules that go from early project planning to execution,” Hanspal adds. BIM 360 directly impacts the industry by increasing customers’ Return on Investment (ROI). “We have had instances where construction firms have experienced ROIs of nearly 400 percent by implementing this solution,” beams Hanspal. “In the coming days, we are going to expand BIM 360’s capabilities not only in terms of modules, but also in documents to the field.”
Virtual Form to Estimate Errors and Avoid Wastages

Autodesk’s tools for construction modelling are some of the core reasons behind the company’s foothold in both manufacturing and building infrastructure. The company’s Building Design Suite, Revit, Navisworks, and 3ds Max Design ensure that users have all the necessary details on the design model and define how the construction model appears in real form. These help present a visual and virtual depiction of a building structure and all its elements like plumbing, mechanical, and electrical components. In addition, the digitized version enables contractors, sub-contractors or electricians to detect areas with clashes and errors and run a simulation to understand if anything needs to be changed or revamped and experience their design before it is built.

Successful construction projects are allegorical to musical recitals or an orchestra where the efforts of various teams are combined together to render fruitful outcomes. In the case of construction, the safety factors, delivery of materials, on-site quality management, and coordination of respective teams is imperative to successful project completion. “With Autodesk’s field management tools, users can use their iPads to inspect if all the tasks have been performed correctly and mark up only those design models that require change,” says Hanspal.

Autodesk’s solutions such as Point Layout helps companies gain clear insights on the material and financial inputs invested in the projects. “We can avoid all resource wastages and give them clear information and communication to gain better visibility of the issues that are likely to pop up before the construction begins,” apprises Hanspal as he points at the implications of wastage on environment. “Autodesk pays a lot of attention to sustainability. We are aiming to make our technology to help companies build more environmentally responsible structure that are sustainable, use less water, more solar power and reduce construction wastages.”

A Global Brand with Global Reach

Many companies including Balfour Beatty, Gilbane, and Hoar Construction have benefited immensely with the adoption of Autodesk’s solutions. In one instance, JE Dunn, a renowned construction enterprise, approached Autodesk to implement tools through Tableau driven BIM analytics. Besides deploying the solutions, the customer’s preconstruction team created a comprehensive, interactive dashboard of their project portfolio called LENS.

“In general, during preconstruction, a task which would typically take 40 hours was accomplished in only four. We believe, it stands as a unique example of the ROI our clients gain through our solutions and services,” says Hanspal.

Autodesk’s passion to innovate ahead of its competition and market diversity, adds credence to the worldwide reach of its solutions. “With over 12 million users leveraging our professional products and nearly 200 million using our consumer solutions, we are a software company at heart. We strongly emphasize democratizing the technology and making it accessible for millions of people,” Hanspal exclaims.

The future for Autodesk looks bright as always as it helps customers imagine, design, and create better buildings. The company is all set to expand into the physical-digital space to give customers a natural extension of ideas beyond the conventional model through augmented and virtual reality.

Autodesk, Inc.

San Rafael, CA

Amar Hanspal, SVP, IPG Product Group

A provider of 3D design, fabrication technology, and software solutions for the construction, manufacturing, and engineering companies.