Autodesk Brings Cloud-Based BIM to AEC, Civil Engineering Workflows

18 Jun, 2012 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Autodesk today extended its Autodesk 360 cloud-based services into the building information modeling (BIM) space. The new Autodesk BIM 360 offerings are available primarily to subscription customers; a few options also are available by separate purchase. 

From a bird’s-eye view, Autodesk BIM 360 aims to offer “anytime, anywhere” access to BIM information throughout the project lifecycle. Taking a closer look, we see it brings several new tools as well as a few familiar offerings to the cloud, including:

  • Autodesk BIM 360 Glue. The new solution supports clash detection, coordination, and collaboration based on a variety of BIM file types; it aims to offer easy access to building and infrastructure models and data and deliver updates immediately to project stakeholders.
  • Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler. This new tool offers conceptual design and feasibility evaluation of Autodesk Revit, Civil 3D, and Map 3D data and enables users to securely store, share, and edit large models and project proposals in the cloud. Information can be accessed and reviewed simultaneously by multiple users.
  • Mobile construction applications for field management, commissioning, and handover. Earlier this month, Autodesk acquired Vela Systems, a developer of mobile BIM applications for the construction industry, and Vela Systems tools are now part of Autodesk BIM 360. Capabilities include automation of field processes such as quality, safety, and commissioning checklists; distribution of plans and drawings; and model access.
  • Energy analysis. Autodesk BIM 360 includes two cloud-based energy-analysis services: the new 360 Energy Analysis for Revit enables users to quickly gain insight into the energy consumption and building lifecycle costs of design concepts. Autodesk Green Building Studio moves to the Autodesk BIM 360 lineup to help users perform energy analysis of multiple building design iterations and share results and data between software programs.
  • Structural analysis. Autodesk 360 Structural Analysis for Revit performs structural analysis on the cloud, then allows users to visualize and explore results within the Revit environment. “We are changing the game with the first cloud-based structural analysis for infrastructure,” said Nicolas Mangon, senior director of marketing and strategy for AEC, Autodesk.
  • Rendering. “Rendering in the cloud is transforming workflows,” Mangon said, explaining that Autodesk 360 Rendering allows the compute-intensive process to take place quickly and without tying up the desktop or requiring special hardware.

Autodesk BIM 360 builds on Autodesk 360, the company's foundation of cloud-based offerings, which give users access to free file storage; a collaboration workspace; “virtually infinite computing power”; and a variety of other cloud services for design, visualization, and simulation. Earlier this year, the company launched Autodesk PLM 360, which enables manufacturers to better access and manage information across the product lifecycle, as well as cloud-based services for Autodesk Design and Creation Suite customers.  Since launching Autodesk 360 in September 2011, nearly nine million users have accessed the services, the company reports.  

Availability. Autodesk BIM 360 is now available in English and will be available in other languages in the near future. Most services are available exclusively to subscribers of Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite 2013, Autodesk Building Design Suite 2013, or any of a variety of standalone products.  Autodesk BIM 360 Glue is one new option that is available for separate purchase by nonsubscription customers. Visit the Autodesk BIM 360 web site or contact an Autodesk reseller for more information. Follow Autodesk BIM 360 on Facebook.

Autodesk is pushing aggressively but thoughtfully into the cloud space, continuously expanding a line of cloud-based services that extend the functionality and collaborative use of familiar, established desktop solutions. Autodesk’s approach offers some powerful options that are just that — options — meaning organizations can adopt them if and when they are ready for cloud-based tools and workflows. At their own discretion, Autodesk customers can dip their toes into cloud-based BIM or dive in head first.

About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson