CAD Tech News (#133)

3 Sep, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

Construction Industry Needs Wider Implementation of Digital Technologies, According to Asite Report

The developer of a cross-discipline cloud platform for capital projects urges AEC firms to build a digital ecosystem.

By Cadalyst Staff

A new report from Asite, developer of the Adoddle platform for management of large capital projects, explores ways the global construction industry can optimize its approach to digital engineering. "Digital Engineering: Optimizing Construction's Digital Future" includes case studies and recommendations for technologies and approaches that can help firms overcome challenges during the planning, design, preconstruction, construction, and operation phases of a project.

According to Asite's report, the technologies that have the greatest capability to transform the construction industry include advanced building materials (ABMs), smart buildings, building information technology (BIM), digital twins, and modern methods of construction (MMC). Image source: Asite.
According to Asite's report, the technologies that have the greatest capability to transform the construction industry include advanced building materials (ABMs), smart buildings, building information technology (BIM), digital twins, and modern methods of construction (MMC). Image source: Asite. (Click image for larger version.)

The report's recommendations aren't limited to improving workflows for individual companies, but include steps the overall industry must take to promote the adoption of digital engineering globally. The report notes the global government initiatives that are driving the adoption of modern technologies and processes, and names the United Kingdom, the European Union, India, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United States as leaders in the push for adoption. Read more »

Sponsored: Comparing Costs of Remote Workstation Offerings for CAD and BIM

Does it make more sense for your company to set up its own private cloud, or to rent virtual machines on a public cloud?

By Len Williams

When one architect described the costs of enabling remote working with CAD and building information modeling (BIM) as a "massive financial burden," he spoke for many in the architecture, engineering, and design (AED) industries. The coronavirus lockdown forced hundreds of thousands of AED professionals to work remotely, and this has introduced significant costs to businesses.

And with potential repeating waves of the disease, more local lockdowns, and a greater number of employees demanding a remote work option, the temporary cost of providing BIM and CAD software remotely could become a permanent expense. But what are the costs of running CAD and BIM software remotely, and how can you minimize them?

Various Approaches to Remote CAD/BIM Work — and Their Drawbacks

AED companies have implemented a variety of measures to help their CAD and BIM designers with remote working. Some of these are short-term, temporary measures; others are more comprehensive and sustainable. When coronavirus lockdowns were first implemented, many AED businesses sought out quick-and-dirty solutions which would allow their designers to continue working from home, such as these common approaches:

1. Using a VPN to provide remote desktop access. Virtual private networks (VPNs) allow your employees to connect to their office desktop computer from home. VPNs can be reasonably cheap — they start at around $10 per user per month.

During the coronavirus lockdown, many AED firms opted for VPNs. However, the major drawback of this route is that your corporate network becomes overloaded, often making it painfully slow for users to access even simple desktop programs, let alone heavy BIM files. These bottlenecks make it almost impossible for CAD and BIM designers to do their jobs remotely — which equates to a big drop in productivity.
2. Transporting company desktop machines to employees' home offices. During the pandemic, many workers took company desktops home so they could keep working with powerful BIM and CAD software remotely. This was certainly a useful workaround, and cost companies next to nothing.

However, this is not a sustainable option. Carrying powerful computers to and from the office is just asking for damage and theft. And, if employees want to work more flexibly (e.g., two days per week at home and three in the office), then transporting a machine every couple of days is simply unrealistic.
3. Buying (or renting) new laptops and desktops for remote employees. Some companies responded to the remote working challenge by furnishing their CAD and BIM workers with high-powered machines for home use.

Alas, this option is simply too expensive to do at scale. Purchasing the kinds of high-powered machines needed to run BIM and CAD programs will typically cost thousands of dollars per unit. Renting the machines is also an unsustainable operating expense in most cases, especially if you are paying for software licenses too.

While the three options described above helped many companies respond to the immediate coronavirus lockdown, they are far from perfect. In the long run, cloud-based CAD and BIM is the only truly cost-effective and convenient alternative to working in an office. Read more »

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Len Williams is a content creator for designairspace.


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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff