The Broader Applications of Autodesk Factory Design Suite

9 Nov, 2011 By: Rusty Belcher

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: If you think the Autodesk Factory Design Suite only works with factories, you’re missing out. Here's how you can lay out any confined space or floor with common design assets.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of IMAGINiT Technologies.

The Autodesk Factory Design Suite offers functionality that can simplify the process of laying out and visualizing a factory design. But don’t let the word "Factory" limit your view of this application: Anyone who needs to lay out a confined space or a floor with common design assets can take advantage of the workflow offered by the Autodesk Factory Design Suite.

In this article, I will give an overview of some specific functionality available in the Factory Design Suite, and demonstrate how it can be used in other layout workflows.

Start at the Floor

I know it sounds simple, but the first thing addressed in any layout process is the floor, and Autodesk Factory Design Suite provides a generic floor in every layout file. You can resize the floor and change the elevation for designs with multiple levels. The DWG Overlay command allows you to paint the floor with reference lines from any AutoCAD drawing.

You can also create a solid floor with any necessary shape. In this example, a ship deck is used for the DWG overlay. A simple sketch and extrusion cuts away any unnecessary material from the solid floor, leaving a ship deck or platform.

In this image, reference lines from a ship drawing are placed on the layout floor.

Place Your Parts

Once the floor is in place, it’s time to fill it with your design parts. This is usually where the real work begins. Proper layout designs require that you place your components in the most efficient location, much like placing game pieces in the best strategic location on a game board. The Autodesk Factory Design utilities make this process a snap — literally! The components automatically land upright on the floor, and snap together using built-in connectors.

In this example, an overhead wireway is created using custom assets. The complex process of laying out a wireway can be as easy as snapping together the pieces of a racetrack for toy cars.

A complex wireway is created by snapping custom assets together.

Create Your Design

The layout environment in Factory Design Suite can be used for any design space you choose, such as the supermarket layout in this example. No two supermarkets are laid out the same, but they’re usually made up of the same common components. The shelves, freezers, and checkouts are all easily placed in the layout to develop a unique design based on common assets.

The Factory Design Suite can be used for layouts other than factories, such as this supermarket created from common design assets.

Visualization and Presentation

Another example of a unique design using common assets is command and control centers. If you design and manufacture custom components — such as the monitoring workstations in this example — you need the ability to generate layouts of office spaces that highlight your products and demonstrate how they interact with and enhance your customer’s facility. The Factory Design Suite includes Autodesk Showcase and 3DS Max Design, which can make assembling and presenting your design much easier. These tools enable you to present your design in lifelike images or photorealistic videos.

A secure operations center created for the Factory Design Suite.

All About the Clash

Shipboard compartment layout is another possible application for the Factory Design Suite. These confined spaces are a perfect use for a digital mockup, which brings multiple digital prototypes together in a single layout.

Developing a successful layout design often requires input from several design teams. Each team supplies their own digital elements to the overall layout design. Layout designers need an environment where they can house and analyze all this digital data, looking for clashes and interferences. Autodesk Navisworks provides this ability to all layout designers. It is much easier and cheaper to address clashes detected in the digital mockup than those found during production or construction.

Detecting clashes early in a design cycle is extremely important. This image shows a shipboard collision between an HVAC line and an electrical cabinet.

More than One Way

During this article, I demonstrated how the Autodesk Factory Design Suite can be used for layout designs that are not factories. Now you may be wondering, "Doesn't Autodesk offer specific tools for things like architectural design, or building infrastructure?" Sure it does — and if your job centers on these practices, you should definitely consider these tools. But if you're an equipment designer, a system integrator, or a building owner who focuses on layout design using your unique assets, then you should know that the Autodesk Factory Design Suite was built for you.

About the Author: Rusty Belcher

Rusty Belcher

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