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Be Inspired Tuesday morning

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

This morning in Amsterdam, the weather alternated between sun, clouds and rain. At the Hotel Okura, COO Malcom Walter welcomed attendees to Bentley’s Be Inspired Conference, an event that recognizes outstanding infrastructure projects around the world. Attendees came from all over the world to see presentations by competition finalists. 


Walter showed a video of the first miner in the Chilean mine disaster as he was brought to the surface to emphasize the human side to infrastructure.


The Netherlands is known for its infrastructure – the very existence of the country has depended on windmills and dykes that keep land and sea separate. Walter said that without infrastructure to pump water and keep it in bay, everything would be under water.


This year there will be video recordings of the finalists’ presentations available on the Bentley website.


CEO Greg Bentley talked about resilience and helping the world be more resilient. “We define infrastructure as the way we improve our planet,” he said. 


He showed some slides that highlighted the use of Bentley products through out the recession. Bentley pointed out that after the recession hit, there have been more people in front of MicroStation, and although that might be good in some ways, it also means that people are working more hours now.


Other facts:

1)New countries are now reporting usage that weren’t before this year.


2) Bentley has seen growth in Europe’s MicroStation utilization hours. 


3) Asia has never had a recession.


4) Infrastructure and plant have had a hard time sustaining growth, geospatial and civil has had some growth. 


5) Bentley has achieved some growth in 2010.


6) Projectwise passport adoption has grown greatly in 2010 and is used by the majority of top Design 100 firms.


7) Bentley is ranked #2 in the geospatial market according to Daratech.


8) Bentley is ranked #1 in plant & process market according to Daratech.


8) Dutch municipalities – over 50% use Bentley technology for urban planning, road design, GIS and mapping workflows.


Tug of War for CADWorx customers

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Concurrently with the CADWorx University User Conference sponsored by Intergraph, Autodesk announced the Autodesk Plant Conversion Program for CADWorx customers. The program “is designed to help users of Intergraph CADWorx software transition to the benefits of the Autodesk Plant Design Suite 2011, a new software suite for plant designers that offers plant design and whole-project review capabilities in a single integrated package,” according to the press release.


CADWorx is built on AutoCAD. CADWorx users who want to transition to the Autodesk Plant Design Suite will get a 6-step project start-up tool kit when they purchase a license to the Suite. The kit provides new project templates, migration tools, and reference materials to help simplify the conversion of legacy CADWorx specs and catalogs.


Autodesk’s Robert Shear, director of plant industry marketing, Autodesk AEC Solutions, said that the purpose of the conversion program is twofold – 1) if you want to convert to a new product you want to evaluate the capabilities, usability and productivity of a new product ahead of time, and you can download the Autodesk Plant Design Suite for free and try it out, and 2) users have invested in creating specifications for certain types of projects with specific content such as pipes, valves, etc. and that CADWorx users think that Autodesk has a “long term” roadmap.


The conversion promises to be usable for converters – quickly, which is not something one generally associates with 3D plant offerings. Plant design projects generally encompass a large number of AutoCAD users, who can transition from AutoCAD to other AutoCAD-based products without much of a learning curve.


Shear said (after attending CADWorx University) there is “long time loyalty among CADWorx customers” and believes CADWorx users are “looking for an alternative.” He suggests that these customers are concerned about the future of the resellers they deal with and about the frequency of updates and product support.


Executive vice president, Business Development, Intergraph Process Power & Marine, Patrick Holcomb, echoed this concern in saying that some users had feared that Intergraph might shut down CADWorx and maybe force upgrade to SmartPlant 3D or something else. “It was shocking – whether we liked it or not, we had a question mark in the audience starting the event; by the end of it, that was no longer an issue,” said Holcomb.

Customers wanted to know how Intergraph would make CADWorx successful. Already, CADWorx is successful, the company reports, with September being the biggest month they have had. In addition, at the conference they unveiled publicly CADWorx 2011 beta, which will be probably ready to release sometime in the next month.


Intergraph is clearly excited about the product line (see Getting Smart About 3D Plant Design with 3D CADWorx, GISWeekly, October 11, 2010) and have no plans of subsuming it or letting it go. Intergraph’s SmartPlant 3D is a behemoth plant design system that serves its purpose for large projects, whereas CADWorx and the other COADE acquisitions serve an entry level plant design market, addressing smaller projects, of which there are many.


Autodesk likens this scenario to Bentley’s acquisition of Rebis some years ago and their subsequent entry-level product, AutoPlant. This is another customer base that Autodesk offers a conversion plan to. When Bentley acquired Rebis, Autodesk did not at the time have a competing plant design software offering.


It is true that Intergraph has served larger projects very well, and has not focused on solutions for smaller projects. This is a new customer base for them. But my guess is that may be changing and broadening with the acquisition of Intergraph by Hexagon AB as well as customer requirements, which reflect the need for applications for projects such as brownfield projects.


In a recent interview with CEO Hexagon (soon to be owner of Intergraph), Ole Rollén, he suggested that CAD systems may be in their future again, “What we need to do is to deliver good application software and good solutions to the professionals….we have certain markets where I can see the need for CAD systems, going forward, but that’s more construction-related. You should be able to download a 3D model of a building, for example, and download that into your measurement device that will guide you where to put the air conditioning, spotlights, cabling in walls, etc. and these are technologies we are developing.”


Rollén also said: “Plant is probably our single largest application within the Hexagon group.” It stands to reason that the company would want to invest in as many aspects of plant design as it can to serve an existing and possibly growing customer base.

Shear said the cost of a license of the Autodesk Plant Design Suite is “roughly the same” as that of a license of CADWorx. But what Autodesk has going for it, in addition to offering 3D plant design, P&ID and basic AutoCAD in the Autodesk Plant Design Suite, is Navisworks, which unlocks legacy 3D data. 

So there you have it. Will CADWorx users want to make the switch from a product they have been happy with up until now…is this an offer they can’t refuse?

Funding the acquisition of Intergraph means selling bonds for Hexagon

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Hexagon AB plans to sell bonds to refinance part of the loans used to fund the acquisition of Intergraph Corp.

According to the article below, “The company plans to raise $850 million from a share sale to help refinance some of the debt after it completes the purchase. Hexagon said on July 7 it agreed to buy Huntsville, Alabama-based Intergraph for $2.13 billion to add software that helps companies visualize complex data and design factories, ships and oil rigs.”

Hexagon Plans Bond Sale to Retire Intergraph Acquisition Loans Bloomberg Business Week, October 12, 2010

BIM in the news

Monday, October 11th, 2010

“Meyer Sound is the first professional audio manufacturer to provide Revit data, supporting a seamless integration of its loudspeakers into BIM projects.”


Meyer Sound Releases Revit Data for Loudspeaker Integration in Building Information Modeling (BIM) Meyer Sound

“BIM is becoming part of the public procurement process in the US, Singapore, and other jurisdictions…”


BIM Recommended for UK Government Procurement Between the Poles

Google SketchUp 8 announced at 3D Basecamp

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Google SketchUp 8 was announced at Google’s user conference 3D Basecamp held in Boulder, Co. last week.


The released focuses on the following features: 


Some very straightforward access from within the modeling interface for SketchUp to all of Google’s geospatial data. “For an architect, we can give you a very comprehensive site model for any project you’re working on almost anywhere in the world,” said product manager John Bacus. “Obviously some areas have better data coverage than others, but we’re able to give SketchUp modelers direct access to Google’s aerial photography collection. We also have launched a new data service that provides high resolution terrain directly into the SketchUp modeler for almost any location on earth.”


Modelers have access to any 3D building models for adjacent buildings to a site they might be working on. Most of these models are coming from other SketchUp users, said Bacus. “For the last four and a half years or so, the SketchUp team has been working on building systems for users to make models of 3D buildings and now we’re able to give those back to the SketchUp modeling community in the form of site models, context models.and we also can give users access to streetview data for use in site reference or directly as photographic texturing for their models.”


The Building Maker app which was launched previously, gives people an easy modeling interface for buildng low rez photographically textured 3D buildings in places where Google had collected aerial oblique imagery, a birdseye type of view of a city. “We’re able to drag polygons on top of photography and do a kind of lightweight photogrammetry to figure out the precise dimensions of any building,” said Bacus. “In SketchUp 8 we’ve made that into a kind of feature in the modeler so you can bring up a window inside the main SketchUp interface and make a quick massing model for an existing building. Google will automatically texture it for you and send it back directly into the active SketchUp model in its proper scale and goelocation. For those users who want to start in Building Maker for a model, we also have a way to convert Building Maker models into SketchUp models. We’ve added a couple of new tools that make it easy to take the primitive massing model from Building Maker and add detail to it, clean up some of the messy geometry and add higher quality textures etc. The data is all freely available.”


SketchUp 8 also has a whole new set of modeling tools for people with experience in other 3D modeling packages. They include a simple set of Boolean modeling tools, which allow users to do unions and subtractions, trims and splits. The geometry model makes it possible to  now do objects that do volumes, so users can actually report the volume of collections of geometry in the SketchUp model. “If users are doing things like complex concrete form work, we can give them a pretty good first order estimation of the volume of concrete they’re going to need, so they can do a little more analysis on the model in that way,” said Bacus.


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