Autodesk is expanding its Autodesk Construction Cloud, adding new products in 2021: Autodesk Build, Autodesk Quantify and Autodesk BIM Collaborate. Its BuildingConnected bidding platform has also been launched in the UK and Ireland
Clouds are constantly moving and changing shape, and Autodesk’s cloud offering is no different. At this week’s virtual Autodesk University, Autodesk has announced the expansion of its Autodesk Construction Cloud (launched in late 2019: post). It has added new products, set to be available in early 2021 – Autodesk Build, Autodesk Quantify and Autodesk BIM Collaborate – that it says will empower general contractors, trade subcontractors, designers and owners to drive better business outcomes.
And to support its architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) design customers, Autodesk is adding cloud-enabled document management to its AEC Collection of design solutions (which includes Revit, Civil 3D, AutoCAD, and Navisworks), and launching two new offerings for design content authors and reviewers. These connect to BIM 360 and the Autodesk Construction Cloud set of solutions.
Expanding the Autodesk Construction Cloud
Jim Lynch, vice president and general manager of Autodesk Construction Solutions, says:
“Almost a year ago we introduced Autodesk Construction Cloud, sharing our vision for the most powerful and complete portfolio of construction management products. The new products we announced today represent a huge milestone for connected construction*, with Autodesk Build providing an entirely new approach to project management. We’re continuing to deliver on our promise of helping builders across the world catalyze their digital transformation and make construction more predictable, safe and sustainable.”
[* In July 2020, Autodesk and IDC published a report: Digital transformation: the future of connected construction.]
Autodesk Build delivers a connected set of field execution and project management tools for builders in a single platform that is easy to deploy, adopt and use, while ensuring information sharing and workflows are performed in a tightly-controlled and highly-configurable environment.
By capitalising on features of BIM 360 and PlanGrid while also delivering new functionality, Autodesk Build is integrated with data from all other construction workflows so teams can handle workflows such as project management, quality, safety, cost and project closeout with a single log-in. Autodesk Build establishes a single source of truth for the entire team to minimize miscommunication and mitigate project risk, while standardized data collection for every project enables leaders to make data-driven decisions.
Autodesk Build also enables real-time collaboration between teams in the field and the office with the PlanGrid Build mobile app. With capabilities such RFI creation and issue tracking, and up-to-date drawings and markups, PlanGrid Build ensures changes are immediately available to reduce miscommunication, errors and rework.
Autodesk Quantify is a comprehensive quantification solution for estimating teams that enables both 2D and 3D takeoffs in one cloud-based tool. With Autodesk Quantify, estimators can quickly and accurately quantify elements from both 2D plans and 3D models and manage these elements alongside subsequent documents in a single environment. With all data in a centralized project location, teams can increase transparency and collaboration on their estimates and reduce risk for faster and more competitive bidding.
Autodesk BIM Collaborate
Increasing numbers of AEC professionals conducting design reviews in the cloud don’t need access to design creation tools – they simply need to review changes. Until now, these contributors had limited options for design reviews in the cloud. Autodesk BIM Collaborate brings design collaboration, model coordination and document management to Autodesk Construction Cloud to reduce rework, improve productivity, and accelerate project delivery. Built upon the unified platform, Autodesk BIM Collaborate empowers project teams to align and execute on design intent and constructability by managing the entire design collaboration and coordination workflow within a single, cloud-based solution in a common data environment. Features such as project timeline, aggregated model viewing and change review provide design teams with deep insights into the real-time status of the design phase and help quickly contextualize changes, while model coordination capabilities like clash detection and issues management ensure the highest quality designs are delivered to the field.
A BIM Collaborate Pro option – formerly BIM 360 Design – will also offer users Revit Cloud Worksharing, Collaboration for Civil 3D and Collaboration for Plant 3D.
Sameer Merchant, head of product development, Autodesk Construction Solutions, says:
“Construction is about building, not learning how to navigate complicated software. Technology should be easy-to-use and effortless to scale – if a construction company grows, its software should grow with it. In developing our new offerings, we incorporated the best-in-class features of existing Autodesk construction products into a common web and mobile framework and integrated them with a shared data platform. As a result, the most loved capabilities will be immediately available within Autodesk Build, Autodesk Quantify and Autodesk BIM Collaborate.”
These products are being added to the 2019-launched Autodesk Construction Cloud portfolio, which included BIM 360 and the AEC design applications, plus three of the company’s 2018 and 2019 acquisitions: Assemble, Plangrid (post) and BuildingConnected (post).
New AEC Collection offerings
Autodesk’s AEC Collection has been expanded to include document management, project dashboards and reports, through Autodesk Docs – built on the Autodesk Construction Cloud platform – plus Insights and Administration. Autodesk says:
- “Autodesk Docs underpins the common data environment for every unified product with centralized document management, providing users with seamless navigation and integrated workflows to create a single source of truth across the project lifecycle. It brings drawings, models, specifications, photos and markups together in one place for review and management. With version control and standardized approval workflows, project teams have easier access to the right information at the right time, whether a team member is at home on a laptop, at the jobsite on a tablet, or reviewing on the go on a mobile phone.”
- Insights – delivers analytics from the data collected and analyzed, as well as the ability to export that data; encompasses Construction IQ artificial intelligence to identify and mitigate risk.
- Administration – provides centralised user management and permissioning, templates and other tools for project setup, as well as a single authentication method for any unified product.
BuildingConnected extended to UK and Ireland
Ahead of Autodesk University 2020, on 13 October, Autodesk announced the international expansion of BuildingConnected, a ‘social network’ for UK and Ireland-based construction firms, aiming to streamline tendering (or bid management) processes via the Autodesk Construction Cloud ‘crowd-sourced’ builders network.
Despite numerous efforts to automate construction tendering processes (as EE summarised in January 2019 – see Autodesk buys BuildingConnected), many construction firms still use piecemeal combinations of email, different software and in many cases, paper.
The result is often significant time inefficiencies and data loss that leads to costly mistakes. Autodesk believes the international expansion of BuildingConnected will enable teams in the UK and Ireland to keep communication and data fluid, transparent, and consistent across stakeholders, supporting both sides of the tendering process. Autodesk’s Jim Lynch says:
“There are more than one million construction professionals on the BuildingConnected network in North America alone, with over 2,000 general contractors and owners actively bidding out projects – totalling $56 billion in project values each month. BuildingConnected effectively replaces an antiquated approach that has relied on Rolodexes and spreadsheets, and ensures the right teams are in place for every kind of construction project, whether a commercial building, data center, medical facility or infrastructure project. As BuildingConnected further expands internationally, we want to empower construction firms around the world with the resources they need to increase productivity and decrease project risk.”
BuildingConnected helps pre-construction teams to:
- Quickly solicit tenders with customisable templates and accurately compare those tenders in a side-by-side “apples-to-apples” fashion
- Track against internal budgets with real-time cost updates
- Easily collaborate with other estimators on the team, and follow communications and bid versions
- Export tender and summary sheets for transparent collaboration with owners
- Gain valuable insight into historical tender data and reports to optimise for future projects
Mike Pettinella, director of EMEA sales of Autodesk Construction Solutions, says:
“Mitigating risk during the preconstruction phase, which is when costly rework is most avoidable, is massively important to any company’s gross margin. Keeping data loss to a minimum while planning construction projects is one of the most critical aspects of mitigating risk. By bringing the entire tendering process under one roof, teams can keep both communication and data fluid, transparent and consistent across stakeholders. BuildingConnected will have a big impact for construction companies in the U.K. and Ireland on both sides of the tendering process.”
Autodesk published a report, Connected Procurement: The Foundation of Construction Success’ outlining the findings of research conducted among 375 owners (clients), general contractors and subcontractors in the UK and Ireland, all with direct involvement in tendering or submitting proposals to bids.
According to the report:
- just 24% of owners and 19% of main contractors say that it’s easy to find qualified subcontractors for projects.
- Subcontractors are able to submit proposals for only 50% of the projects that they see.
- 86% of main contractors and 78% of subcontractors admit that errors are routinely made during tendering that impact the project down the line – including underestimating the project timeline and overestimating the labour resource required.
- 99% of owners have experienced issues with new collaborators, with a lack of transparency about challenges (48%) and disputes about work quality or completion (46%) the most common.
- 31% of main contractors have experienced reputational damage to their company due to working with a new subcontractor.
- 38% of owners say that reliability is more important than cost when it comes to contractors – while main contractors are focused on transparency (35%).
The report also looks at COVID-19 challenges, and points to a skills shortage in the UK construction sector, as additional lockdown measures threatens to disrupt the industry further. With the added pressures brought on by the pandemic, a quarter (26%) of construction firms say that their business has faced increased pressure to complete projects on time, and over half of subcontractors say that employee retention (58%) and labour shortages (53%) are among the main concerns regarding the future of the industry.