July 23, 2012
GTeam Takes Collaboration to the Cloud
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
GTeam Takes Collaboration to the Cloud
By Susan Smith
Gehry Technologies recently announced the free preview availability of GTeam, a cloud-based 3D, file management and project collaboration platform purpose-built for AEC professionals. “GTeam enables project teams, including architects, designers, engineers, contractors, consultants, and building owners, to easily collaborate and share documents, files, and 3D building information data from any device with a web browser,” according to the press release. Project teams use GTeam to reach consensus faster, reduce change orders, save time, get more work, and reduce project costs. Owners and large enterprises with one or many buildings under management can also use GTeam
as a centralized BIM data storage platform to easily identify, consolidate, and organize as-built documents of all existing and future buildings.
In a conversation with Andrew Witt, Director of Research and Matt Reed, senior vice president of Marketing, they talked about how GTeam was founded as a separate company in 2002, a spinoff of Gehry Partners. The goal of the GTeam is to bring technology and process that Frank Gehry had used on the projects to a much broader audience. Gehry Partners’ strategic partnership with Dassault Systemes was the genesis of the Digital Project which was released in 2005 as a high end BIM offering tool.
“As a result of that we actually have grown a substantial services business, which enables projects to use a lot of the high end capacity of Digital Project as well as a lot of other tech tools in the execution of their projects,” said Witt. “It’s essentially like a BIM consulting and project management service right now that consists of about 100-110 consultants around the world, and they are in about 11 offices, spanning from Los Angeles to Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.”
Autodesk and Dassault are investors in GTeam. “I think part of the reason Autodesk was attracted to us was because of our extensive project experience and services experience on these really complex projects,” said Witt. “Also our ability to work with almost any kind of CAD tool out there. We produce our own CAD tool but work with a lot of others to execute these projects.”
Witt describes their business as a hybrid, offering three things: selling licenses of Digital Project, services revenue from projects where they have project consultants, and soon a subscription revenue from GTeam.
People find collaboration around 3D or BIM data difficult, said Witt, as they often find they’re working with the wrong version of a file, they don’t have historical information of where the file came from or previous versions of the file. There’s no total lifecycle tracking and auditing and sharing 3D with various people is not good. People are using ftp or dropbox on the one end and then using heavier tools that require a lot of IT administration like Buzzsaw. “We’re trying to fix this collaboration problem, especially around 3D but also for other files people are using.”
GTeam is Gehry’s answer to the problem, a web based 3D file management and project collaboration platform purpose-built for this industry. 3D files from AutoCAD, Revit, Digital Project, Rhino, and SketchUp are able to be accessed in GTeam. Teams can visually manage any kind of data, including 2D drawings, 3D models, PDF files and other documents, spreadsheets, schedules, and pictures. The interface is similar to that of using popular social media platforms.
Features of GTeam include:
Central BIM collaboration is the centerpiece of GTeam. It is cloud-based technology with all files stored in the cloud. The files are accessed over the web on desktops, computers, tablet devices as well as mobile phones.
On the bottom layer of GTeam is a file management resource, database and archival system that can replace ftp, Sharepoint and internal document control systems.
The BIM data represents another layer where 3D files are imported into GTeam. “We are able to use our in-house neutral 3D technology and basically enable anyone with a web browser to officialize that 3D model without having that native 3D app,” said Witt.
The top layer is the vision of the platform -- an open platform built to integrate with a variety of different systems. “We wanted to build an open platform not tied to a specific tool that enables customers to use that BIM data as they see fit and plug it into different systems that give them value such as energy or cost analysis,” explains Witt.
The core functionality of GTeam is to be able to access the system quickly, through many devices, be able to synchronize on your local computer very simply. With GTeam you can make sure that changes are updated and ensure the whole team, wherever they are, are seeing the most relevant changes so everyone is on the same page, but also synchronization can act as a back up utility as well. “A lot of our customers are using it to replace the simple IT backups to back up all digital assets on their local computers if they choose,” said Witt.
The BIM viewer visualizes all the BIM data once that model is loaded into GTeam. An example is a Revit model -- anyone can see this data who has access to it without actually having Revit.
Customers have been able to replace some technology and go with GTeam for its project collaboration functionality. There are currently over 18 active projects running in GTeam, and the customers are happy they can decrease the need for some 3D viewers and gain greater simplicity and ease of use. People who aren’t tech savvy can easily get onto GTeam to view and interact with BIM in a collaborative setting.
Private data sharing is also a part of GTeam, including secure file transmissions, the ability to release certain documents at certain times, and 3D. The system will stream down all 3D associated with a model, and the user can dynamically examine this model by cutting new sections, or create box sections that isolate a piece of the building, create measurements, select walls, doors, windows, and get immediate feedback and can change or add notes. Features like Clash can be assigned to particular project members.
All in all, Gehry Partners consolidates their many years' of experiences and new technology, both architectural and social, to offer GTeam as a one-stop solution to AEC teams on one open data-sharing platform for use on as many devices as needed.
Top News of the Week
FM:Systems’ Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Facility Management (FM) offering FM:BIM was announced. FM:BIM, a cloud-based system integrated with BIM data, helps architects, engineers and contractors share building information with owners throughout the lifecycle of the building.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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