Comprehensive Toolsets That Meet Engineering Challenges

By Amar Hanspal, SVP of Information Modeling and Platform Products, Autodesk

What significant changes did the Engineering sector witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?
We saw economic health return to the sector.  In North America specifically, we saw a clear economic uptick. This fueled further growth as engineering companies had already pursued newer, overseas markets during lean times.   We saw large, complex projects get funded.  We saw an increased importance of smarter, sustainable projects.

As a result of growing complexity and global opportunities, the need for collaboration and holistic planning across disciplines grew.  Engineers got involved earlier, in the design stages, to help drive critical design decisions.  Building Information Modeling (BIM), Mobile devices and cloud-based collaboration and simulation software were driving technology forces through the industry. 

High performance tasks like analysis, optimization and simulation were increasingly offloaded to the cloud.  These proved to be extremely helpful in addressing these demands with infinite performance and capacity, flexibility and variety of tools needed for different projects.

We also saw an increasing amount of prefabrication in the construction industry, both in terms of traditional prefab (such as precast concrete) but also in modular units complete with MEP systems.  The move to prefab helps improve quality (factory built environment) and leads to less down time on site due to any errors in construction impacting the whole process.

What are some of the changes you had anticipated would happen in 2013, but did not happen?
We had anticipated that Europe would have returned to health sooner but unfortunately, the economic recovery didn’t progress far enough.

Can you paint us the picture of how landscape for Engineering sector will change in 2014? What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?
Engineers need to be prepared to collaborate with distributed cross functional teams at a higher speed, across the globe.   The ramp up time will be shorter (higher effectiveness, need for flexibility), and simulation will play a greater role early in the design process, especially around optimization to drive project outcomes.  Engineers are at the forefront of designing differently to leverage new approaches around pre-fabrication that need to be included early in the design, and there needs to be more efficient use and management of big data.  Looking at the trend of “the internet of things,” mobile and cloud will become ubiquitous and will enable new workflows as well as amplify current ones, especially for industries such as construction, that are inherently inefficient.  The ability to collaborate in the field and relay changes and errors back to the design team in real time is huge.  Also, connectivity between the digital and physical world such as reality computing, digital fabrication or 3d printing adds new elements to the workflow that need to be accounted for.  

Finally, we also expect our design customers to move earlier and later in terms of what they offer – early in terms of being able to ride the wave of expressive design and use computational modeling for that. And later in terms of extending design offering into detailing and fabrication. This change supports processes such as IPD (integrated project delivery) and we expect BIM to help to drive a change in the “broken” contractual procedures in the AEC industry, breaking down barriers to help the design and construction team to collaborate and not operate in silos.

Can you highlight how the customer spends in Engineering sector will change in 2014? What makes you think customers will be buying more/ less?
We continue to believe that BIM, Mobility and Cloud-based collaboration and computing software will be driving trends for 2014.  We expect to see this continue to increase across the world more engineers are empowered with the necessary tools for analysis, simulation, optimization, etc. 
 
What's in store for your company in 2014?
Autodesk continues to lead the industry in developing a comprehensive toolset for meeting the world’s biggest design and engineering challenges.   For instance, we are the first company to offer real 3D modeling and engineering in the cloud/mobile environment. 

From our portfolio of BIM-based tools for building and infrastructure design, to our cloud-based portfolio for collaboration, analysis/simulation, visualization, and our global partner network, we are confident of exceeding the expectations of our customers.  We will continue this leadership to help transform how our customers work, enabling them to imagine, design and create a better world.

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