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BIM on the Road

Key Topics: CAD BIM Cloud Cloud Collaboration Infrastructure
Key Companies: Autodesk     
Key Products: InfraWorks 360     
Editorial Type: Review         Published Date: 09-2013         Views: 1173











Autodesk's InfraWorks 360 Pro brings the same BIM benefits to infrastructure design as it does to the construction industry

It is not just the construction industry that is going wholeheartedly into Building Information Modeling (BIM). The benefits of utilising the wealth of information that accrues from any form of digital design makes it inconceivable that it should not be used to speed up design processes, aid collaboration between all parties on any project, eliminate errors and misconceptions - and, generally, engender a more cooperative working environment.

Now we have InfraWorks 360 from Autodesk, which gives civil engineers working on road design and construction and other civil engineering projects the same opportunities as architects.

Built around Autodesk's BIM 360 platform, Autodesk InfraWorks 360 and 360 Pro provide desktop software and cloud-based BIM capabilities that enable multi-discipline infrastructure project stakeholders in geographically dispersed offices to publish, store, collaborate and manage large models centrally in the cloud via desktop or mobile devices.

InfraWorks 360 can be used throughout the project, from creating initial proposals and aggregating project information, enabling it to be used for highly realistic visual presentations, used to win business and to garner support from interested parties, right through to project completion and the handover to Highways and other agencies to assist in infrastructure maintenance.

This is all part of Autodesk's focus on BIM within the infrastructure industry, helping it to boost efficiency, cut costs and deliver projects on time and within budget. As with several other Autodesk applications, moving 3D design into the cloud offers civil engineers near limitless computing power and much more effective tools for group collaboration, delivering advanced 3D modeling and visualisation.

As background to the launch, Autodesk quoted NASDAQ figures that claim a £30 trillion gap, worldwide, between desperately needed infrastructure and the funds required to deliver it - whether it is new projects in developing countries or the restructuring of creaking infrastructure in countries like ours.

Based on Autodesk's InfraWorks 2014, the civil engineering design tools come in four versions, depending upon a user's requirements and budget. Autodesk InfraWorks 2014 itself is ideal for road layouts and evaluating multiple proposals, whilst InfraWorks 360 Pro 2014 provides a range of extra design model and data handling facilities, plus access to Roadworks Design for InfraWorks 360 Pro. Roadworks Design provides specialised tools for roads and highways.

Top of the range is the Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate 2014 - available on a subscription basis. You can check out exactly what comes with each package on Autodesk's InfraWorks website, www.autodesk.com/infraworks.

INFRAWORKS 360 PRO
InfraWorks 360 Pro allows civil engineers to conduct road profile optimisation via the Cloud. Usually carried out manually by dedicated engineers with much trial and error and complex calculations, Road Profile Optimisation provides civil engineers with a total design solution. Using imported terrain data and adding proposed design parameters, including things like cut and fill requirements, design standards and cost data, multiple alternative solutions can be analysed and detailed reports provided showing the optimal solution.

Optimisation and analysis tools can also be used to design road layouts, intersections, junctions, roundabouts and other highway features, in 3D and in a virtual environment. Civil engineers can view how alternative road types impact upon the local terrain. Further realism can be achieved by adding existing roads, bridges, buildings and other street furniture to the model, as well as photographs, satellite imagery and other data - enhancing comprehension of the total scenario and enabling them to minimise the impact of essential infrastructure on the community.

A CLOUD-BASED APPLICATION
To help users quickly and easily access and download the data that they need to build site-specific models, a link for direct access to a curated WeoGeo.com portal comes with Autodesk InfraWorks 360 Pro, enabling customers to access and acquire free or for-purchase geospatial data. In addition, computationally intensive processes, such as analysis, simulation and rendering of high resolution models, can be performed using the virtually unlimited power of the cloud.

Working in the Cloud offers many other benefits. Because of its nature, much infrastructure design relies on input from project teams working globally on remote sites. The advancement of mobile computing devices, such as iPads, laptops and so on, lend themselves to collaboration between project members. InfraWorks is therefore available as an app on iPads, allowing users to view and comment on infrastructure scenarios. Field access is also available through the web and other mobile devices. This is backed up by Document Services within the Cloud, delivering plan and profile documentation on demand.



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