Autodesk University 2014 unofficially kicks off with the MEP & Structural Fabricators Forum.
During the forum’s opening keynote, Senior Vice President of Autodesk’s IPG Product Group, Amar Hanspal, gave a brief overview on the trends Autodesk is experiencing, and what they are doing to address the challenges that fabrication, and in particular prefabrication, faces.
The mindset of Building Owners has changed over the years, and Hanspal explained that sustainable design is becoming a dominant factor affecting the design process.
Owners have realised that, through a leaner design and construct process such as prefabrication, there is less waste and more coordinated installation. An additional upside of that is a more coordinated project, within which the Owner is better able to maintain their asset.
Owners are also wanting smarter buildings. They want the building to intelligently inform them how the building is performing, and down to the smallest detail.
Think about how much data currently flows through the internet each day, and then consider that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is expected to increase the uptake, or traffic, of the internet by up to five times.
Although building management data would make up a just a small portion, this five-fold increase will provide an even greater amount of the valuable data that Owners are wanting to tap into.
One example Hanspal pointed to is the long-time BIM adopter, US General Services Administration (GSA), who, through the implementation of their smart building approach, have been able to save US$4M in energy savings.
With Owners and Contractors taking an interest in prefabrication, in what seems to be a trickle-down effect, Designers are also starting to take a closer look.
While there may not necessarily be any immediate or identifiable direct gains for the Designer, the way that the design process is currently undertaken may have to change to suit the downstream requirements of prefabrication. This could also become a distinguishing advantage for Designers willing to market their skills in this area.
‘Think of building prefabrication the same as what has been used for years in airplane and ship construction.’
So what is Autodesk doing to address the needs of the fabrication industry as we head into the next 5-10 years?
They are tackling this from a couple of different directions:
- Product acquisition. As has already been seen, Autodesk are acquiring products and companies that offer desirable features.
- Improving interoperability of Revit to other products, such as CADmep and Advanced Steel.
- Creating a clear delineation between design and detailing.
And finally, the Autodesk A360 platform will continue to grow as a central infrastructure for project collaboration and services. It will essentially become the hub of Autodesk products. This service is still only young with plenty of room to grow, so stay tuned for more details as they are released at Autodesk University.