The COVID-19 pandemic led to the postponement of London’s Digital Construction Week (DCW) show in 2020, and the event is finally set to take place this week at the ExCEL exhibition centre in east London on 24-25 November 2021.
Among the DCW 2021 exhibitors….
3DRepo have been busy lately, running their own British Information Modelling event in London earlier this month, then appearing at AEC Magazine‘s NXT BLD conference, and now at DCW. If the two previous events are any guide, expect to hear more about 3D Repo’s collaboration with Mace, Mission Room, eviFile and academic partners to create a rich visual project control room (see also: eviFile and 3DRepo combine mobile and BIM).
Earlier this year, the London-based firm showed off an infinitely scalable 3D rendering and data delivery platform that allows AEC users to share and view massive and complex 3D engineering models online. This harnesses the Unreal Engine technologies from US-based video game and software developer Epic Games. 3DRepo has also announced the latest release of the 3D Repo platform with updates including IFC4 support, import and export of data validation sets, richer BIM data, and improvements to Civil 3D and Navisworks plugins.
3D Repo has also been working with 4D (construction sequencing) consultancy, Freeform, and the Balfour Beatty Vinci JV to develop a new safety simulation toolset using live walkthroughs of site-specific 4D visualisations based on existing BIM models. The work, which built on 3D Repo’s Safetibase technology, was funded through an innovation competition funded by High Speed Two (HS2) and managed by Innovate UK. Jozef Dobos, CEO at 3D Repo said:
“Inductions and onboarding in UK construction are usually delivered using generic PowerPoint slides, pre-recorded videos and printed questionnaires. Our new training solution will enable site personnel to quickly and easily generate engaging site-specific induction materials that are easy to comprehend and therefore reduce accidents and near-misses through better quality training.”
Autodesk Construction Cloud
A year on from its last major upgrade (Autodesk Construction Cloud is reshaped, November 2020), Autodesk will be talking at DCW about bout new capabilities across its Autodesk Construction Cloud suite, announced last month. The new capabilities include:
- A new Schedule tool in Autodesk Build – helping teams to centralise schedule management and work from the most up-to-date activities and milestones to keep their projects on track. Office and field teams can instantly share digital schedules, collaborate on updates as they happen and link documents, sheets, photos, issues, assets, RFIs and submittals to their communications for reference. Teams can also filter and search their schedules and view them in calendar or chart formats to see activity status in real time.
- Sheet sharing across accounts – customers can now connect data across their entire project teams. Linking sheets across different accounts gives teams the ability to share the latest sheets with other external team members including owners and other contractors who need access but may not be part of the main project account.
- Microsoft Teams in Meetings – customers can now set up Teams meetings directly in Autodesk Build, without having to switch between other applications.
- Data extraction & analysis – support for sheets, transmittals and design review data extractions using Data Connector, plus new Power BI templates, lets teams analyse and optimize document management workflows for improved design review processes.
Autodesk has also expanded its partner ecosystem, which allows customers to streamline data across workflows. Autodesk Construction Cloud now features over 200 partners leveraging Partner Cards and APIs, including Forge APIs, to deliver integrations for customers who want to simplify data management and make more informed project decisions. Via an expanded partner ecosystem, customers can integrate data from their safety, mixed reality, analytics and reality capture solutions, for example, to Autodesk Construction Cloud and maintain a centralised view of their project information to make decisions with more context.
New integrations also include 3D Repo, Aespada, Airtable, ArcGIS GeoBIM, Arkio, BIM HoloView, DAQS, Embneusys, Geometrid, GoFormz, Google Workspace, Join, Novade (post), Oculo, OpticVyu, ProNovos, Safe Site Check In, Shepherd, SiteKick, Stevenson Systems, StructShare, Tomorrow.io, UpKeep, vGIS, viAct (post) and WakeCap.
In July 2021, Autodesk announced the commercial availability of its cloud-based digital twin platform, Autodesk Tandem (Autodesk announces Tandem digital twin platform, November 2020). According to Autodesk, the platform enables teams to harness BIM data throughout the design and construction process, then create and handover a digital twin to customers.
Earlier in 2021, Autodesk announced other Construction Cloud enhancements:
- New workflows to help customers comply with ISO 19650
- An option to store project data primarily in Europe
- Availability of Autodesk Docs as a standalone subscription
A new quantification product, Autodesk Takeoff, joined Autodesk Build and Autodesk BIM Collaborate as part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform.
Bentley Systems has continued its acquisitive streak. Recent purchases include:
- Imago, a developer of cloud-based software for the capture and management of geoscientific imagery, acquired by its Seequent business unit (3 August 2021 announcement). Seequent was acquired by Bentley in March 2021 (Bentley’s billion dollar buy: geoscience tech vendor Seequent).
- Minalytix, developer of the mining solution MX Deposit, also purchased by Seequent (14 September 2021 announcement)
- OXplus, a rail asset management specialist headquartered in Veghel, Netherlands, acquired by the Cohesive Companies, the wholly-owned but independently operated digital integrator business unit of Bentley Systems. The 5 October announcement coincided with the appointment of Mark Bew as CEO of The Cohesive Companies, succeeding Noah Eckhouse. Well-known in the UK as chair of the BIM Task Group until 2016, Bew, right, joined Bentley when it acquired PCSG in October 2021.
- Power Line Systems, a leader in software for the design of overhead electric power transmission lines and their structures, for approximately $700 million (16 November 2021 announcement).
Fairly quiet since being acquired by Hexagon in October 2018 (Hexagon acquires Bricsys), Bricsys has started to market more extensively in the UK. For DCW, it is mainly focused on V22 of the BricsCAD product family – an all-in-one software platform for 2D drafting, 3D modeling, building information modeling and mechanical design.
Since 2018 (Hexagon on Bricsys 24/7: “Watch this space”), EE has been patiently waiting for news of the company’s SaaS-based collaboration environment Bricsys 24/7; apparently “24/7 is currently undergoing a number of exciting changes, and we will be hosting a summit for 24/7 in March next year.”
It will be at DCW having recently announced what it says is the world’s first live platform for designing site infrastructure for new housing sites. Causeway Live Design is a cloud-licenced platform that integrates all aspects of site infrastructure design, graphical ground modelling, roads and drainage design including hydraulic analysis and 2D overland flow, vehicle swept path analysis, road marking and traffic sign design. Used standalone or integrated with AutoCAD, the new platform has been tested by Brookbanks and Stirling Maynard, having been piloted by engineering consultancy Thomas Consulting on a residential development at Garstang in Lancashire, UK. According to Causeway’s Barry Blake:
“Causeway Live Design is … a game changer, helping to achieve huge productivity savings and … produce optimal value engineered designs. No more time is wasted reworking designs or double-handling data, which is where so many mistakes can be made. Onboarding and training are quick and easy, and cloud licensing makes this solution portable and flexible for our customers’ needs.”
Causeway recently appointed Richard Longdon as non-executive chairman. Longdon was chief executive and subsequently president of FTSE 250 technology business AVEVA plc for 17 years before stepping down at the end of 2017.
A new name to Extranet Evolution, Ed Controls is a construction snagging product from Netherlands-based Dutchview IT that is said to be used daily by construction workers in the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain and India. The firm exhibited at LondonBuild last week and with a presence at DCW is clearly pushing to raise its profile in the UK.
UK-based Glider Technology is launching its new Glider Information Value Chain at DCW. It says this is a key formula that is applied to the whole life cycle of an asset – from design through to operation – for better building performance at every stage of the project.
A familiar face has joined Glider. Stuart Bell, formerly at Business Collaborator (Bentley buys GroupBC, March 2020) and before that at Union Square (Union Square acquired by Deltek, July 2016), has joined the firm as director of sales and marketing. He tells EE:
“It’s a tremendously exciting time for the business which has secured some marquee clients and projects and grown significantly through the past 18 months (despite the lovely global pandemic challenge!) Amongst other barometers, I see the industry’s adoption and investment into a data first CDE solution as a significant step in the digital maturing from file centric working to data based information procurement.”
Unity will be unveiling VisualLive to the European market for the first time since it acquired the business in March 2021 (Unity acquires AEC AR tech vendor VisualLive). Unity says VisualLive allows users to import models from Autodesk, and to exchange BIM data with Procore. Unity will also be showcasing Reflect Review, an immersive and interactive design review solution, and Reflect Develop, a tool that helps to build custom applications.
EE at DCW
I will be at Digital Construction Week for both days, dividing my time between platform sessions for the Government & Industry Interoperability Group (exhibiting on stand A63) and for the UK BIM Alliance (including a Thursday discussion panel with the Alliance’s Technology Group).