This month, Autodesk will be rolling out its next generation of BIM 360 products that will include BIM 360 Design and BIM 360 Build modules (https://bim360.autodesk.com), making this suite the industry's first unified design-construction platform. BIM 360 is built on top of Forge, Autodesk’s cloud-based software platform, which the company launched in 2015.
In fact, all of Autodesk’s products are now built onto Forge, which makes it easier for the company to “expose the innards of technology” through a variety of application program interfaces, says Jim Lynch, Vice President of Autodesk’s BIM 360 Construction Line Group.
By opening Forge to the industry’s eco system, more of Autodesk’s customers have been building products that integrate seamlessly with that platform. One such example is Assemble Systems, a preconstruction planning tool. Indeed, since introducing this partnership program last November at its Autodesk University event, there have been 46 completed integrations on the exchange (https://integrations.bim360.autodesk.com), and another 90 in the works.
Expanding this eco system is important, explains Lynch, because it would be nearly impossible for Autodesk alone to meet all of the AEC industry’s different needs and requirements.
The goal, says Lynch, is the make the construction process easier, from design to commissioning, “so that there’s more end-to-end transparency.”
Third-party suppliers that want to become part of this network need to apply, although Lynch says that the entry bar is “pretty low.” In fact, competing companies that offer software that does pretty much the same thing as others on the exchange are welcome onto the Forge platform. (Lynch says that Autodesk might even invest in the ones it prefers.)
However, in building this app exchange, Lynch says Autodesk more interested in cultivating quality than quantity to help users connect and store their data. “What we’re trying to say is, if you work with Autodesk, you have the opportunity to put all of your information into one place. We’re putting everything on the cloud and offering customizable solutions.”