Posted in practice on June 15, 2016 7:59 am EDT

Cloud Power

A strong showing of cloud-based tools is steadily changing the way AEC firms operate. Which new tools make sense for your business?

The most important thing to know about cloud-based technologies is that they are both creating and fueling changes to our workflow. Image courtesy of FieldLens.











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TAGS: bim, business, collaboration, sustainability, technology,


By Cathy Hutchison

Pure Web-based Tools

Either sold as apps or in SAS models, the next generation of software was specifically conceived to be used online or on a mobile device, creating workflows that weren’t possible with desktop-hosted software. Some of the most effective new tools include:

"The most prevalent use of the cloud by the AEC industry at the moment is virtualizing the desktop. Firms are beginning to put their traditional desktop tools in a hosted environment."

—Steve Sanderson, Director of Strategy and Implementation, Case Inc., New York, NY

Bluebeam Studio (visit link)

Bluebeam Studio is a cloud-based service that facilitates real-time, collaborative and direct digital exchange for the submittal review process. Teams can markup drawings online in [a] PDF and up to 500 attendees can join a Studio Session. Version control records changes to the files over time so that you can see changes or recall specific versions later. Comments made by attendees within a Studio Session cannot be edited by anyone except the person who added the comment, including the Studio Session administrator.

BIM 360 Glue (visit link)

BIM 360 Glue is Autodesk’s cloud-based BIM management and collaboration product designed to connect the entire project team and streamline BIM project workflows from pre-construction through execution. BIM 360 Glue provides access to the most recent project models and data throughout the project lifecycle and helps teams resolve coordination issues while advancing the construction layout process.

Fieldlens (visit link)

FieldLens is construction communication software that advertises “Every conversation. Every note. All in one place.” It allows teams to take photos and link them into the issue tracking and reporting interface. It is designed for tablet, iPhone and Android devices and brings together all of the various documents used by different stakeholders to track issues on the job site. So rather than walking around the site with a printed drawing and camera, you have the ability to capture everything on a phone/tablet and sync across all trades.

SightSpace 3D & SightSpace View (visit link)

Jeffrey Franklin, vice president of Limitless Computing in Boulder, Colo., says, “We wanted to develop a mobile app that would take 3D models to iPad and Android, then overlay the 3D model in the real world at real-world scale.” In SightSpace, the model is either loaded into the cloud in a service such as Dropbox or can be accessed via email, but it can also be loaded onto the device—since people in the field often don’t have Internet access. SightSpace View works as a companion to SketchUp, allowing teams to generate a QR code to share with people outside the industry—such as using in fundraising.

Shaderlight (visit link)

Shaderlight is an interactive rendering software plug-in to SketchUp that lets firms create high quality images with the ability to animate SketchUp scenes and render to the cloud. With the click of a button, Shaderlight sends the model and the client can download the render. The advantage is that computationally intensive renders won’t tie up local machines. The work is done in the cloud and an email is received when the render is done.

What the change in technology means

The most important thing to know about cloud-based technologies is that they are both creating and fueling changes to our workflow. This technology shift is both in response to and facilitating changes in delivery methods.

To find out which tools would be the most effective for your practice requires a test drive. Select a project for a test-run and see which tools are the most effective at taking your workflow to the next level.



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