reprinted by permission of Ralph Grabowski, editor
November 10, 2004
Graphisoft is looking for a growth strategy. They've got their CAD
software (ArchiCAD) and FM software (facilities management), and they've
dabbled in other areas, like supporting Autodesk's IFC (industry foundation
classes) for exchanging AEC models between software packages. Graphisoft's
Clay Freeman called last week to tell us that his company thinks it's found
a big winner: virtual construction. It fits nicely between their CAD
(design) and FM (operations) software.
Virtual construction software looks a lot like CAD, but the approach is
different: the software determines how best to construct buildings. This
isn't the kind of software that a CAD vendor cooks up at an off-site
skunkworks; it needs to be created by the people doing the constructing. On
their own, several mammoth construction companies have written software that
helps them figure out how best to build a building.
The problem is not trivial:
- Constructability Analysis - create a model as it would be built.
- Properties - estimating the material, equipment, and manpower.
The idea is to provide the details needed for construction, not design.
For example, a CAD drawing doesn't have to show all the rebar inside
concrete slabs; construction software does. But how is construction data
One way is by "construction zones" - as opposed to layers, sheets and other
groupings used by pure CAD programs.
All this is to pre-announce the launch of new software - Constructor 2005
(US$6,000) and Estimator 2005 (US$4,000) - and a new service, Construction
Services to help transition firms from old to new, to be available in
December. The software includes ArchiCAD CAD software, but uses links to
third-party scheduling software. Next year, Graphisoft hopes to add change
management to the software. The cost savings may be only 2 to 3%, Graphisoft
hazards to guess, but the time savings may be more significant.
Graphisoft got their software from YIT, a Finnish construction company.
Their BOMs (bills of material) are 99.5% accurate. I asked how transferable
Finnish-developed software is to other countries and jurisdictions. Mr.
Freeman said that large companies have their own cost data, which they
import into the software.
A new class of software means a new class of software operator. Mr. Freeman
noted that companies cannot hire stock CAD operators fresh out of community
college CAD classes. Instead, this software is to be used by mature
operators with experience in construction.
As far as Graphisoft knows, they are the first to integrate CAD with
constructability software in the AEC world.
About the Author
Ralph Grabowski is
an editor at upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. (previously known as
XYZ Publishing, Ltd.). Ralph is the author of 60 books and
several hundred articles for dozens magazines and newsletters
about CAD, graphics, and the Internet.
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