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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Autodesk launches A360 to North American market

 
September 4th, 2014 by Susan Smith

Around 2011, we began to hear about cloud project-based collaboration tool, Autodesk A360, and since that time around 1.5 million accounts have been created to use the tool. In January of this year, the tool evolved into a A360 Tech Preview beta, that attracted over 10,000 users.

Autodesk A360 addresses findings of two recent studies on collaboration, outlined in a recent press release from the company:

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The A360 dashboard gives you a view of recent activity streams for all active projects.

A Gartner study on collaboration among manufacturers found cloud-based tools to be the fastest growing category of collaboration tools—both for internal collaboration as well as working with external partners.  Another recent study found that 50% of makers “make things with others,” while 41% indicated that “others use what they make.”

The studies both make the points that collaboration has become de riguer with regard to making things with other people, and that the tools that facilitate collaboration have evolved beyond previously considered project management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) management systems, since they are now on the cloud.

Autodesk Team, available now in North America, is about enabling project based collaboration, and it enables design and engineering project teams to work efficiently in a central workspace…the cloud.

Jay Miller, principal CAD manager at BHB said they have increased their utilization of standards documentation because they were easy to find and access on A360. Over 30 people are also using wikis at BHB, which is another great feature of A360. The value of A360 to this design firm is the ability to be able to share design files with field workers or others affiliated with a project. They can all view the Revit model even though they don’t have Revit.

A Deep Search gives users the ability to search from a relational standpoint. Autodesk uses A360 internally to highlight new events and activities, and they have people tabs to show all the people affiliated with projects, not just internally. This even shows who is following the project who is not necessarily involved with it.

With A360 users can search tagged items. In the Data View, they can create different folders. There are well over 100 file types, and anything shared can be viewed. The viewer is embedded as part of the experience. “All you need is a browser to look at a detailed 3D model,” said an Autodesk spokesman. “Select files can be uploaded into A360 or you can take a whole folder and see corresponding parts to what is in the large model. You can also select the complexity of what you want users to see.”

You can also show how and where a project is stored.  Whenever you upload any folders or file to a project it is also in the Data View and you can post it. You can upload an image, PDF or other file with wiki and not the whole model. With wiki, all screenshots, ongoing commentary, action items can be shared and added.

The size of a wiki file is 2GB, and you can load up to 10-20 files at 2GB each.

There are two levels of A360: A360 and A360 Team.

A360 is 5GB, free, available for one project only, there are no team members, project contributors are unlimited, has community support.

A360 Team is 10GB, $10/member monthly or by annual subscription, unlimited projects, paid subscription, unlimited project contributors, product training + basic support included.

For both, you can use Chrome, Safari or Firefox browsers.

Company materials provide the following description of A360:

A360 provides benefit for all stakeholders involved in a project – content creators, collaborators and consumers.  Some of the main pain points that A360 addresses for project teams include:

  • Project coordination: A typical employee is involved in 5 different projects at a time; larger projects can have upwards of 50 people from the same company involved in a project
  • Change tracking and design rework: Designers and engineers need to be able to perform quick iterations, keep track of changes, and maintain version control – ~60% designers and engineers recreate models due to incompatible software or miscommunication
  • Scattered communications:  Communication is largely informal and disconnected – A typical employee uses an average of 2-3 communication tools (does not include f2f meetings, instant messaging, and phone)
  • Sharing project information and viewing design data: Not all contributors to a project are designers or engineers, and therefore all these people use different tools and those tools create different outputs and types of data.
  • Mechanism to give and provide feedback easily and effectively: It can be a challenge to share large files – According to a recent customer survey, 77% of designers and engineers rely on PDFs for red marking and commenting on designs
  • Finding data and information in complex design assemblies and archives: Not all data is available through basic search and important details are often inaccessible or extremely hard to find. Results of that same survey showed that designers spend 43% of their time on finding and aggregating information

New features in A360 include the ability for users to view more than 100 2D and 3D design file formats within their browser without downloads or plug-ins, and an advanced search that goes far beyond text search and lets users easily locate components embedded within models, assemblies and designs.

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Viewing, sharing and editing large 3D files of nearly any kind is quick and easy with A360.

There is also the A360 mobile app, which facilitates the viewing of large 3D and 2D models, for which you can track what is happening on your project and collaborate with other members of your team anytime, anywhere from any device.  A360 mobile supports both online and offline workflows, allowing teams to stay on track with recent changes and updates.

Sign up for a free trial of A360 Team

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Categories: 2D, 3D, AEC, AutoCAD, Autodesk, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, engineering, field, field solutions, infrastructure, mobile, project management

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