Andrew Anagnost, President & CEO
Millions of dollars worth projects, huge pools of resources, and cascades of data generated every single day—the construction industry is booming. And along with it, new technologies in the construction space are being developed at a breakneck pace. While it might come as a surprise, when it comes to technology, construction firms have been under-investing in technology for far too long. However, the scenario today is changing; venture capitalists are betting big on the use of construction technology (contech), and with the integration of architecture with the digital realm, the future of contech appears more promising than ever. Following the advent of CAD (Computer Aided Design) and the recent developments in BIM (Building Information Modeling)—the intelligent model-based process used to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure, contech is paving the way to endless opportunities.
"By investing significant resources and working on its artificial intelligence product, BIM 360 Construction IQ, in its construction suite over the past few years, Autodesk has set the ball rolling in the contech space"
As with other industries, a persisting problem in construction is that much of the data that has been collected until now is effectively siloed—stored in isolation by individual business departments. For data analysis at scale, teams must collaborate and interact with each other to contribute to the bigger picture and provide a birds’ eye view of all important details. Besides, to make renderings and walk-throughs of projects insanely realistic, a variety of architecture software have risen in popularity. When it comes to construction software, a name that resonates with creativity and innovation is Autodesk—a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. The 36-year-old pioneer in CAD software, Autodesk equips customers with an array of software, such as AutoCAD, Revit, Maya, 3ds Max, Fusion 360, SketchBook, and more to unlock their creativity and solve important design, business and environmental challenges. By investing significant resources and working on its artificial intelligence product, BIM 360 Construction IQ, in its construction suite over the past few years, Autodesk has set the ball rolling in the contech space. “I want Autodesk to be the company that made construction more industrialized,” says Andrew Anagnost, the president and CEO of Autodesk.
Keeping the BIM Game Strong
Autodesk’s multidisciplinary BIM software for higher quality, coordinated designs—Revit—helps architects, engineers, designers, and other stakeholders produce consistent, coordinated, and complete model-based building designs and documentation. Automatically updating floor plans, elevations, sections, and 3D views while using 3D visualizations to see a building before it’s built has never been easier. Through BIM, Autodesk is equipping Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) professionals with the necessary tools to move toward more collaborative, automated and successful ways of working. Revit comes stacked with numerous features for BIM including Parametric components, Worksharing, Schedules, Interoperability and IFC, and more. A fundamental characteristic of Revit is the ability to coordinate changes while maintaining consistency at all times, without having anyone to intervene for updating drawings or other related content. Revit projects can be further subdivided into worksets to enable worksharing, creating a central model such that team members can simultaneously make design changes to a local copy of the central model. With Revit, project stakeholders can create schedules, quantities, and material takeoffs to analyze and quantify the components and materials used in a project. Revit also offers fully certified IFC import and export based on buildingSMART® IFC data exchange standards. One can optimize and expand BIM workflows with an open-source graphical programming interface that installs with Revit. Added to that, Revit comes with multiple tools for architectural design, construction modeling, MEP and structural design, engineering, and detailing.
Revit’s BIM 360 serves as a unified platform connecting all project teams and data in real time, from design through construction, supporting informed decision-making and facilitating to more predictable and profitable outcomes. BIM 360 assists with predicting safety hazards, proactively managing quality, automating tasks, and reducing rework so that one can control costs and stay on schedule. By centralizing project data with BIM 360, project players are able access the information they need in real time, anywhere, so that they can track the project progress and make decisions in the field. Controlled worksharing through BIM 360 allows multidisciplinary teams to co-author shared Revit models, visualize every update, and also manage design data across the project lifecycle. Utilizing BIM 360 users can build a digital strategy connecting data from individual projects, thereby increasing predictability and profitability while driving innovation in business. Further, Autodesk’s design collaboration software, BIM 360 Design, users can drive successful project outcomes depending on consistent communication with the team across each project phase. Connected teams and holding information in a central project location on the cloud ensure not just improved productivity and reduced reworks but also accelerated project delivery.
Autodesk Civil 3D® civil engineering design software supports BIM and comes with integrated features to improve drafting, design, and construction documentation. Civil 3D features can be leveraged for a variety of civil infrastructure projects including rail, roads and highways, airports, land development, storm and sanitary, drainage, and civil structures.
Reimagining infrastructure design, Autodesk’s InfraWorks, an infrastructure design software, supports BIM processes to Conceptualize, visualize, and optimize infrastructure projects—all in the context of the built and natural environment.
In 2018, Autodesk acquired PlanGrid, a company providing construction productivity software, in an attempt to realize their joint vision of helping close the construction labor productivity gap with technology. With PlanGrid BIM, users have all BIM data at their fingertips, readily available on a platform already embraced by field teams. This enables them to see data properties, such as dimensions and material type or manufacturer, directly on the sheet while also equipping them with a 3D view to get the bearings and better visualize the final work. That’s not all, Autodesk has also brought in the talent and tools of Assemble Systems into the Autodesk construction family to provide real-time access to critical project data, from 3D models and point clouds to schedule and cost-throughout the entire project lifecycle. Their solution empowers construction professionals to query, condition, and connect BIM data to key workflows across bid management, scheduling, estimating, site management, and finance.
A Breeding Ground for Innovation
Autodesk’s culture is all about making things and as such, there is a lot of emphasis on encouraging people to be creative and explore interests related to their motto—Make Anything. As an intrinsically dynamic company, Autodesk is constantly adapting and embracing change. Anagnost gleefully mentions, “I’m passionate about what we’re doing. I enjoy the people, the company, and our customers. I think the company is moving forward in ways it hasn’t before: we’re doing things we’ve never done, we’re growing faster than we’ve ever done and we’re acquiring at a scale we’ve never acquired before, which is bringing in more technology. I feel like I’m making a difference so I come to work every day really happy and excited.”
Anagnost believes the industry is receptive to change and companies are increasingly adopting new technology. Becoming more BIM-based on their processes, as enterprises start to move the model from design all the way through to construction, they become more efficient and their bids are more accurate, which means they have bigger opportunities to make money and hit their schedules.
Placing its priority now on construction, Autodesk is gearing up for the next big transformation. Anagnost concludes on a grand note saying, “We’re getting ready for the next manufacturing revolution over the coming three to five years, which is going to be all about the rise of the configurable micro-factory—the teeny factory down the street that can build anything. It’s got 3D printers and robots in it. You send bits in and solid products come out. That world is coming and that’s the next world we’re working for.”