December 18, 2006
Avatech on Technology Trends
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! Avatech is a consultancy and systems integrator, also an Autodesk reseller and premier solutions provider, with 250 people, 21 offices and specialists in all areas of industry worldwide, and 13 of their offices house their infrastructure team of engineers. In the past 3-4 years, the company has grown significantly and staff is being added regularly to address the growth. Read about what is driving that growth in this week’s Industry News.


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Industry News

Avatech on Technology Trends

by Susan Smith 

Avatech is a consultancy and systems integrator, also an Autodesk reseller and premier solutions provider, with 250 people, 21 offices and specialists in all areas of industry worldwide, and 13 of their offices house their infrastructure team of engineers. In the past 3-4 years, the company has grown significantly and staff is being added regularly to address the growth.

The term “infrastructure solutions” is intended to denote an area including geospatial, civil, surveying. Avatech has an Infrastructure Solutions Division and a Building Solutions Division, as does Autodesk.

Infrastructure Solutions Division 

Although Avatech does do some implementations of geospatial products such as MapGuide and 3D Map, two trends characterize the company’s current growth in infrastructure: the growth of the implementation of Autodesk’s Civil 3D, and 3D laser scanning.


Avatech’s Bruce White, VP Infrastructure Solutions and Kevin Breslin, director of Professional Services, Infrastructure Solutions spoke about the how implementation opportunities are growing and Avatech is ramping up to provide a higher level of personnel as the verticalization of industries increases.


In large part, their recent work has involved working with customers to understand the change that Autodesk’s Civil 3D requires. Working with a model based technology versus a CAD drafting technology is a big transition for most firms. There is more up front set up involved with Civil 3D than with CAD. Once up on the system, most users find it easier because  it’s intelligent. “We evaluate where a customer is and where they would like to be,” said White. “We offer training work with engineers, designers, users, and decide what

supplemental training they need to get up to speed.” The implementation process involves customization, installation, research and development. Avatech’s team fine tunes software to customers’’ needs and requirements. “After that, we train them on software optimized for their purposes, so we carry them from where they are to where they want to be.”


Many of the users of Civil 3D came from using Land Development Desktop and although the rollout and implementation need to be planned, they are realizing productivity quickly. Civil 3D customers can be up and running on the product in one to two weeks, depending upon the level of customization required.


Another trend Avatech sees is in the area of 3D laser scanning. “Surveyors used to think laser scanning was a plant tool, now they think it’s a survey tool,” said White. Laser scanning covers a broad spectrum: survey, civil, plant design, architectural. It covers the entire AEC field and clients can own or rent it.


3D laser scanning can be used for numerous things and White said they are seeing an increase in its use by architects. Measuring HVAC systems, for use in 3D model software, and routing ducts are just some of the uses reported.


The most common application for 3D laser scanning is in field finish surveying software, and GPS overlay. Avatech has represented Leica since before they purchased Cyra Technologies in 1998. They train, implement, sell and rent the products.


Breslin said that people are competing against 3D laser scanning on a daily basis. “You need to get up on the technology and know what’s available, so you can look at different jobs and see if it’s a fit or not. If they want to do a rental, we can set them up, and when data comes back in, we can work with them on that.“


The process based training that Avatech offers changes the way people think. This is necessary because the technology requires a significant leap in understanding when going from 2D to 3D, much like the transition from the drawing board to 2D CAD.


With help setting 3D laser scanning, customers can be running the field equipment on their own. That’s not the end of the process however, just the beginning.


The deliverables for 3D laser scanning will change, noted White, and you’ll get to a point where the point cloud is the deliverable. “General Motors specified all plants in North America to be scanned for the 3D design department. The full deliverable is just a registered point cloud.”


White also predicts that 3D laser scanning will follow the pattern of everything else in technology: it will become lighter, cheaper, faster and smaller. When 50% of the market has it, then other firms will adopt it.


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