In a Q&A with Sefaira’s CEO Mads Jensen, he talked about the firm’s cloud solution for sustainability analysis, designed for early building design stages.
AECCafe Voice: Why would anyone use Sefaira when most major CAD software companies have their own cloud setups for their own software products?
Sefaira is the only firm to offer a seamless and intuitive solution for sustainability analysis, specifically created for the early stages of building design. Because of this, more than 200 leading design firms have adopted Sefaira as their main solution for high performance building design today.
Sefaira does not compete with CAD / BIM solutions from existing vendors, but rather integrates directly into existing design processes and tools. In this way, Sefaira complements existing design tools, and provides our users with a best of class experience for high performance building design, and – for this reason – we are the fastest growing solution for high performance building design, growing by more than 33% in the last quarter alone.
AECCafe Voice: What does Sefaira provide for early stage analysis that is not provided by current early stage analysis software?
The key features that differentiate Sefaira and make it particularly suitable for early stage analysis are:
Easy and intuitive use – user interfaces are specifically designed for architectural design at the very early stages, allowing users easy exploration and comparison of design options
Speed –Sefaira runs analysis in seconds, comparing strategies and combinations of strategies to fully understand all options and make the right decisions in a time-scale that is compatible with the needs of early stage design where decisions often need to be taken rapidly
Clear, print-quality outputs – Sefaira facilitates discussion among project stakeholders and makes the decision making process faster and more seamless
Parametric analysis – Sefaira response curves enable the designer to optimize key design parameters such as shading, glazing ratio and building orientation in seconds where this historically could take weeks
Support – Sefaira’s engineering team provides outstanding client support as well as training, webinars and documentation to make performance analysis easy for non-engineers
AECCafe Voice: What is the cost of using Sefaira, and what is the pricing model?
Sefaira is Software-as-a-Service with an annual enterprise-licensing model for an unlimited number of users within a firm. The cost depends on the number of projects that are analyzed with Sefaira. The starter price is $5,000 and covers 3 projects per month.
AECCafe Voice: How does the cost and efficiency compare to existing offerings?
Sefaira requires less training than other tools and is much easier to implement within architecture firms. By implementing a practical tool for performance analysis our customers are able to meet requirements that would otherwise be hard or impossible to meet.
Our customers are telling us that because of Sefaira they have been able to win more business, reduce their design costs and avoid costly rework to meet sustainability targets during later project phases, and that no other solution for sustainable design offers such a compelling return on investment witnessed by the rapid growth of our client base.
In recent years we have seen a huge growth in the use of Building Information Modeling in the construction industry. At Autodesk University 2012, Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of information modeling and platform products group (IPG) at Autodesk, outlined his predictions for the construction industry in 2013. Specifically, Amar believes the following trends will drive critical change in how construction firms compete for business and deliver completed projects:
1. National Infrastructure Discussions Evolve Into Global Discussions
Discussions on national infrastructure will evolve into global conversations on interconnected transportation and financial systems. For example, completion of the Panama Canal will force the U.S. East Coast to upgrade their ports to accommodate a massive increase in traffic and ship size.
2. Infrastructure Priorities: Developing vs. Developed Regions
Today, there is a marked divide between the infrastructure priorities of developed and developing countries. Developing countries are creating, funding and building brand new infrastructure systems while developed countries are trying to fix their crumbling systems in order to address the needs of tomorrow.
3. Innovative Funding Models
No matter the end goal, funding is a critical concern across the world. We’re beginning to see alternative funding models such as PPPs emerge, and with that project teams, processes and priorities are beginning to change. A significant portion of funding will likely come from foreign investors looking for low risk projects across geographies, forcing project owners to compete on a global scale and learn to work with the increased transparency demanded by private investors.
4. Construction Green Lights Mobile Productivity
While some may consider this industry to be slow to adopt new technology, in actuality it has simply maintained a strong commitment to business objectives. They do not buy into technology for the hype or mystical promise of “cutting-edge.” In order for technology to be successful in the construction market, it must be tied to the overall business goals and processes. Most recently, the industry has been rapidly adopting mobile technology because of the time and cost benefits of using mobile devices.
5. New “Big Picture” Skill Set Required
Today, the shop floor and the construction job site are closer than they’ve ever been. For example, pre-fab construction is becoming an increasingly important conversation not only in the home building market but also in the commercial market. The use of pre-fab components requires a deeper technological understanding across all disciplines. From the get go, designers, manufacturers and builders need to ensure that the design is flawless, as one mistake could cost thousands of dollars.
Now several months into 2013, BIM is used by many construction contractors to provide information to crews before they begin their work on the project. Mobile computing has advanced as well in the past year with several useful apps to provide not only real-time field data but also geolocated field data. Even though BIM has notable 3D capabilities, for the construction industry the BIM model is generally converted to a 2D drawing with less of the available data shown to the user.
Keeping the model in 3D for a longer part of the construction process allows all professionals on the job to access a greater level of accuracy at the jobsite. With the help of laser scanners, total stations and multi-stations to gather real-world data in the field, users can merge this data with the model data already in the office for a bigger picture. This would help with scheduling dilemmas later on in the process and ensure valid information at every stage in the lifecycle of the project.
Sean Flaherty, CEO and Dr. Biplab Sarkar, CTO of Nemetschek Vectorworks spoke last week in a webinar about their software launch of Vectorworks 2014.
Flaherty gave a business overview of the company and its progress:
Although Nemetschek Vectorworks is headquartered in the U.S. their customer base is very global, Flaherty explained, with 53% from Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, 28% from Pacific region and 19% from Americas. Their top five user countries are Japan, Germany, UK and Switzerland. AEC remains their biggest market, accounting for 60% of their sales. Landscape and entertainment design are still critical to the company.
Select Subscription customers will be the first to receive this release. Three years ago they launched Select Subscription service. Last year more than half the licenses delivered were to Select members. Vectorworks is seeing positive rebound in the AEC sector.
According to the National Association of HomeBuilders, they predict higher levels of construction activity in the years ahead. Also they are seeing positive signs in multi-family residential and commercial design.
In response to that and other industry insights, Vectorworks has expanded their staff by 50% in the last few years.
BIM continues to be a funnel for information in the architecture industry. Design begins in the mind of the architect. Vectorworks can take the design from the sketchpad to the workflow. Each year more firms are implementing BIM workflow into their projects.
¾ of firms are using BIM software for billable work. This report also found 91% of firms used BIM software for design visualization.
In the UK the government is pushing to become a world leader in BIM, and the National BIM Survey 2013 found that more than 1/3 or 33% of the survey are using BIM, up from only 13% in 2010. “One of the primary ways we feel we can help architects to greater BIM adoption is to provide BIM education to practitioners whether they are Vectorworks users or not,” said Flaherty. “More than half of owners admit to being beginners in BIM expertise.”
“BIM is a new way of realizing projects, one part in the overall BIM processes. In addition to an introduction to BIM processes, Vectorworks also offer industry professionals talks on the process from their standpoints,” said Flaherty.
This perspective of seeing BIM as “new” is refreshing coming from a CAD vendor, as most seem to espouse the belief that BIM is not new.
Vectorworks is very supportive of Open BIM because of its support of transparent open workflow, that allows for collaboration regardless of software tools, its creation of a common language for processes, and ability to provide quality project data that can be used throughout building lifecycle.
Dr. Sarkar gave a rundown of all the features. Here are the features of Vectorworks 2014 as listed in the press release:
The Vectorworks 2014 software includes more than 130 improvements that were developed for better modeling, BIM management, interoperability, usability, performance, and quality. The 2014 product line also features new BIM tools for architects, increased site design capabilities for landscape architects and designers, as well as enhancements to lighting devices, documentation, and graphic controls for entertainment designers. The following list provides a sampling of what design professionals will find inside Vectorworks 2014 software: Enhanced 3D Modeling: This release includes several key improvements to Vectorworks’ already robust 3D modeling capabilities. Built on the industry’s leading modeling kernel, Parasolid®, Vectorworks 2014 offers persistent rendered 3D navigation to provide designers with the ability to easily switch between 3D and rotated Top/Plan views; enhanced walkthrough capabilities, making walkthroughs in OpenGL faster than ever; and the new twist and taper tools that enable users to twist entire solids, solid faces, or NURBS surfaces, as well as taper the faces of 3D objects in a single snap. In addition, the new 3D X-ray Select (patent pending) allows users to temporarily see through solid objects in the area around the cursor.
Mike Gustafson, Product Manager, Tekla answered some questions about Tekla’s BIMsight 1.8 release, a free construction collaboration tool. This new version makes BIM collaboration LIVE and allows you to share models and communicate through the client instantly. The model sharing that was introduced in BIMsight 1.6 is now enhanced by the note sharing capability, thereby eliminating the need to send notes in email.
This morning Autodesk announced a pay-as-you-go model for all the company’s desktop software including the latest Design and Creation Suites, Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Maya LT. A “hangout” was held this morning on Google this morning where Andrew Anagnost, SVP, Industry Strategy & Marketing for Autodesk and other industry specialists, discussed this new offering.
Businesses are increasingly adopting this type of model for consuming services and products as opposed to owning software. Options generally include renting, sharing or purchasing subscriptions such as this “pay-as-you-go” model. This way designers, engineers and architects no longer will have to be concerned about purchasing the next version of the software. New comers will also be able to get up and running on the software with few up-front costs, and get projects started with this software.
Options include quarterly and monthly or annual rental plans for customers who want to stay current with product updates, use of Autodesk 360 cloud services and support. This is a similar option to what Autodesk Subscription customers already enjoy. The rental plan will be available beginning September 2013 and applies to Autodesk AutoCAD Design Suite, AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite, AutoCAD Revit LT Suite, Building Design Suite, Entertainment Creation Suite, Factory Design Suite, Infrastructure Design Suite, Plant Design Suite, Product Design Suite, Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya LT.
This past week Autodesk announced three acquisitions: two for BIM for infrastructure – the technology assets from Bestech Systems and Savoy Computing, Ltd. These investments extend Autodesk’s infrastructure portfolio for road and bridge design and greater adoption of BIM. For third are technology assets from Get The Point, LLC.
Sam — A suite of software modules from UK-based Bestech Systems for loading, analysis and design of small and medium bridge spans. The software will help Autodesk customers save time and increase accuracy and data consistency during the analysis phase of bridge design..
AutoTrack – A suite of software from Savoy Computing, LTD for road, light rail, airport, parking and intersection analysis and design. The technology will further support infrastructure planning by architects, designers and engineers.
Secondly, Autodesk acquired technology assets from Colorado-based Get The Point, LLC and introduced Autodesk Point Layout, new software for layout at construction sites. The acquisition will extend Autodesk’s construction solutions portfolio and BIM in the field.
Autodesk Point Layout automatically creates points from BIM and CAD models within Autodesk Revit, Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Navisworks software. The point data drives robotic total station hardware, such as Topcon’s line of positioning systems and related hand-held devices or tablets, to give contractors and sub-contractors laser-guided pinpoint accuracy for the placement and verification of building elements.
By removing error-prone manual layout techniques, Autodesk Point Layout improves field accuracy and productivity, as building designs are more available and accurate at the construction site. The software used in combination with Autodesk BIM 360 portfolio for field management and coordination will add to the productivity at construction sites and on entire projects.
A recent article in Wired profiled some companies that have decided to move off the cloud and instead move most of their computing to some basic computers they can manage themselves. MemSQL, a Silicon Valley company founded by Eric Frenkiel, did exactly that about two years after it was founded, taking the company assets off the Amazon cloud, and saving money on managing their own computers.
‘I’m not a big believer in the public cloud. It’s just not effective in the long run,” said Frenkiel. While the cloud is great for many tasks, including launching a startup or running a small website, it may not sense for all applications. Zynga’s online gaming empire grew to monumental sizes in 2012, and promptly shifted a large portion of its operation off the Amazon cloud into its own data center.
In July, Bentley Systems announced their Field Supervisor, an app for the iPad that allows users to connect to multiple data sources. It extends the reach of information that is managed securely in ProjectWise and eB, and in other user repositories to field workers with online and offline access. Now construction professionals and field workers can make on-site decisions more easily with current project information.
“We’ve been doing a lot around information mobility, and how can we help infrastructure teams share and collaborate and interact with information across the phases of a project, between systems and people,” Huw Roberts, vice president, Core Marketing at Bentley said. “Fundamentally we want people to be able to interact with project information on a mobile and have that be part of their workflow, rather than a separate app or technology. Our app strategy is built around extending and building upon those secure project environments.”
Paul McRoberts, vice president of Autodesk’s Infrastructure Business, talked this week about the company’s announcement today of Autodesk InfraWorks 360 Pro, that offers the latest 3D modeling, visualization and cloud-based collaboration technologies to address the estimated $30 trillion gap worldwide between desperately needed infrastructure and the funding required to deliver it.
To expand access to the critical BIM solutions that design professionals need to address this challenge, the new solution is available via a quarterly plan, making it ideal for firms to test-drive Autodesk 360 Pro, or use it for short-term project needs.
Those users who have been aware of the Autodesk InfraWorks environment will note that the product goes to the next level with cloud capability and the ability to integrate lots of disparate Big Data. “We are still struggling with how to manage this Big Data world,” said Paul McRoberts. “Things have been focused around the single user, GIS analyst, GIS technician, drafter, a very expert oriented environment. As were building out the InfraWorks 360 environment, we ask how does that environment get us to change?”