Going mobile, but CAD is back

Wireless technology headlines A/E/C Systems 2001

May 01, 2001 |

Last year, the talk at A/E/C Systems was how Internet startups were going to revolutionize the industry. Although some survived, others bit the dust, with far too many promising technologies and services for which the industry was just not ready.

This year's show at Chicago's McCormick Place on June 19-21 once again focuses on productivity solutions for A/E/C professionals, but also includes the emergence of technology that the industry eagerly anticipates: wireless communications.

Exhibitions and demonstrations of wireless tools are planned, such as cell phones, hand-held computers, portable digital assistants (PDAs) and digital cameras. With the construction professional becoming more dependent on instant access to information, these solutions are appearing just in time for mass use.

One keynote, featuring John Voeller, chief technology officer of Overland Park, Kan.-based engineer and constructor Black & Veatch, focuses on the benefits of wireless communications and how the technology will create entirely new business processes, operational methods, software interfaces and hardware demands. Voeller also will review the products and services available, and the costs associated with each.

Moreover, numerous seminars will focus on wireless communications. For instance, "Using Mobile Computing to Maximize Your Design and Construction Technology Investment" talks about alternative ways to take advantage of mobile computing for improving everything from data collection, CAD systems and project management to accounting, estimating and scheduling. And "Stay Connected: Survival Tips for the Road Warrior" provides tips on using today's wireless tools.

In addition, in a special event called "Day in the Life of a Project," various A/E/C firms and their clients will demonstrate how they used wireless technology and other products exhibited at the show to collaborate on projects. For example, Walter Powell, senior project manager of corporate architecture for The Gap Inc., describes how construction of 25 to 30 stores per week is being managed with the help of e-Builder online project-management service. New York City-based contractor Bovis Lend Lease, Minneapolis-based A/E Ellerbe Becket, the City of Milwaukee, e-Builder, Four Seasons Hotels and Deltek Systems are among the other companies participating in these demonstrations.

CAD solutions

With the cool-down in Internet-based solutions, computer-aided design (CAD) systems are back in the news again. Autodesk Inc. is back at the show after its absence last year. Philip Bernstein, newly appointed vice president of the company's A/E/C Market Group and formerly of New Haven, Conn.-based Cesar Pelli Architects, is billed for a keynote discussing the future of design software. Highlights include: developing new tools for conceptual design and collaboration, unifying the players in the design/build process and moving towards the "data-rich model of the future."

With its return to A/E/C Systems, Autodesk will showcase a new product called Architectural Studio, an Internet-based collaborative design program with a suite of creation and communication tools for conceptual design. Familiar tools, such as pencils, markers, erasers and yellow tracing paper, enable sketching, modeling and presentation for real-time design collaboration among multiple design team members, regardless of location. Designers can integrate freehand sketches and conceptual models with CAD drawings generated with other Autodesk products, including Architectural Desktop and 3D Studio VIZ.

The company will also demonstrate its Building Mechanical and Building Electrical software programs for design development and construction documentation of mechanical and electrical systems. The software is integrated with Architectural Desktop.

New products and services

  • Buzzsaw.com will highlight its latest service, RFQ Manager, an online quote-management system that automates the procurement process. The service enables buyers to send, receive and track request for quotes (RFQs), while allowing material suppliers to respond to RFQs from any Web-enabled computer.

The company will also release its Plans & Specs service, which allows A/E/C firms to post construction drawings on the Web for instant access and updates.

  • Primavera will showcase the latest version of its contract-management and project-administration software: Expedition 7.5. The new version features expanded contract- and document-management functionality, multiproject analysis capability and the ability to access meeting minutes and view and log drawings.

The company will also exhibit Expedition Mobile, which allows A/E/C professionals to access the Expedition management system on the job site using a PDA.

  • Graphisoft will demonstrate ArchiCAD 7.0's simulation capability, which animates 3-D models with the addition of time to show various construction or demolition phases in 4-D. The new version also includes a link to Timberline's cost-estimating software, and allows manufacturer's building objects to be placed from the Web site into a floor plan.

  • Meridian Project Systems will demo its integration applications between its Prolog Manager project-management software and Timberline Gold or J.D. Edwards OneWorld XE accounting systems. This integration allows seamless transfer of data between Prolog Manager and accounting, including purchase orders, budgets and contracts.

  • Ideal Scanners will release IntraNETIX 7.0, which provides quick search, view and print of scanned engineering drawings and CAD files via a standard Web browser.

In addition, there will be various hands-on workshops for A/E/C professionals in need of advanced training in areas such as ArchiCAD, Revit, Project Pak, AutoCAD, Microstation Trifoma, Intellicad and ProjectNet.

For more information on A/E/C Systems, call (800) 451-1196 or visit the Web site at www.aecsystems.com/2001.

Tom Hernandez is associate partner and director of computer services for Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC in New York City. He welcomes comments through the Internet at thj@panix.com.

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