AECCafe Special News Report... Autodesk/COADE Partnership Triggers Growth

AECCafé Special Report
Autodesk/COADE Partnership Triggers Growth
By Susan Smith

When Autodesk entered into a strategic partnership last year with plant, process and offshore provider COADE, it seemed like a natural evolution. Autodesk had been partners with plant and process vendor Rebis for many years, and that company was recently acquired by Bentley Systems. After that acquisition, many AutoCAD users were concerned that they might have to switch their shops to MicroStation, Bentley’s flagship CAD product, even though the newest release, MicroStation V8, is designed to read and write DWG files without any hitch. What in turn happened, as it does in technology where product loyalty is more important than what the next vendor can promise, is that many Rebis/AutoCAD users moved over to COADE after Autodesk announced its partnership with COADE. Autodesk has many partnerships in plant and process but COADE seems to be the most prominent one. High double digit growth rate has been reported by COADE since the partnership with Autodesk was announced, and most of that growth is coming from Rebis customers. Western Gas Resources, an owner operator that designs both retrofits and installations, is an example of one of those customers. Design Supervisor Mark Bross runs the drafting department and a team of designers who coordinate with construction and plant personnel. They install gas compressor stations, pipelines, gas processing plants where they produce natural gas, propane, butane. The company has always been an AutoCAD shop.

Western Gas Resources has several compressor stations in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. For coal seam gas they have produced a number of look alike stations. They need software that allows them to copy one job to another quite flawlessly and just change a few things in the design.

“We’ve had COADE a little over a year and a half,” said Bross. “Before that we had been using the Rebis products. We switched over because the Rebis products weren’t quite doing the job for us, did not hold together well, and were a bit more expensive. Every time we gave something to someone else they had to have the Rebis modules to look at their drawings and it was always hard to find someone who knew how to use it. When we switched over to COADE CADWorx a lot of our problems went away as far as finding someone who could use it as well as finding someone who could come in and learn it easily.”

Many of the new features of AutoCAD 2004 are exciting to plant and process customers, among them the file compression, presentation level graphics, x-ref notification and simultaneous product release which were mentioned in the first article. AutoCAD 2004 as a general design CAD tool complements COADE’s specific design tools for the process industry. The plant and process industry must work with larger and larger datasets, so the new file compression in AutoCAD 2004 speaks to that need, with files 50 to 60 percent smaller than in any previous releases of the product. COADE’s customers design oil refineries, chemical plants, pharmaceutical plants which require very big models and use Autodesk’s solids technology. “It’s not unusual for a model to be several 100 megabytes in size and have hundreds of external references, hundreds of drawing files and several people working on them at the same time,” said Jim Quanci, senior manager, Autodesk Developers Network Worldwide. “When their customers moved to 2004 they watched their model sizes drop by a factor of 4 or 5 which means from a performance point of view, there were big jumps in loads, saves, and actual working. This allows their customers to do bigger more sophisticated projects — projects that were not possible in previous versions of AutoCAD.” “When you work with COADE you work with objects like pipes and valves that are not in AutoCAD,” explains Quanci. “Plant designers are used to pipes, valves, pressure vessels, etc. They also work with specialized schematic representations, piping and instrumentation diagrams, ISOs, isometric diagrams, and loops. There’s a whole set of specialized documentation standards that COADE brings to the table.”

In the process space, or plant lifecycle management, Autodesk provides base technology like AutoCAD, DWF, Volo View, and toolkits that allow you to integrate with ERP and project management. COADE focuses on specific process plant design and lifecycle management — making sure the design data that the engineering firm creates get passed on to the construction firm, that in turn gets passed on to the owner operator who needs to maintain the plant. Autodesk solutions can be used throughout the process and are not too complicated for any of the users to use.

Autodesk found that customers wanted to purchase all technology together and would hold off on technology purchases until all the applications they need are ready to go. The simultaneous release of AutoCAD 2004 products required the commitment of partner companies such as COADE. “We worked for nine months before 2004 came out, and especially closely with 37 companies from around the world — our best partners with the largest numbers of customers, and discussed with them the changes that will take place with the product family. They gave us input on their needs, and we asked them to commit to shipping their flagship applications within 30 days of shipping our 2004 product. What we offered in return was support, beta software, and people assigned to work with them personally,” Quanci explained.

Western Gas uses AutoCAD, COADE CadWorx and Autodesk Viz Render for this rendering of a compressor site in the Wyoming Powder River Basin coal seam gas area.

Process piping designed with AutoCAD and COADE's CADWorx.


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