On the Road to Revolutionizing 3D Plant Design
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On the Road to Revolutionizing 3D Plant Design

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Industry News
On the Road to Revolutionizing 3D Plant Design
By Susan Smith

3D plant design software has a reputation for having a steep learning curve, being expensive, complex and requiring costly infrastructure. Software companies address that challenge from different perspectives, and Autodesk is among them, capitalizing on the fact that AutoCAD is used on so many plant and process projects already.

AutoCAD Plant 3D 2010 was announced at the SPE Offshore Europe Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition 2009 recently, now Autodesk’s flagship product in the plant space. Built on AutoCAD, the product will bring model-based design to plant projects. The idea behind Plant 3D 2010 is that it will provide a more cost effective software, maximizing user’s familiarity with AutoCAD.

Autodesk’s contention is that existing 3D plant solutions take time to learn, and possibly require more infrastructure in place. A Daratech survey of 2D vs. 3D software indicated that it takes 140 days for a user to become proficient in 3D software, a deterrent for companies who don’t have the time or manpower to devote to that education. The understanding seems to be that 3D systems are “too complex and heavy to manipulate.” Further, many firms are worried that once the employee learns the software, they may move on to another firm.

Because so many users in plant and process are already well versed in AutoCAD, according to Autodesk – 89 percent, it’s not difficult for them to pick up 3D Plant 2010, according to Robert Shear, senior industry manager, Industry Process & Power for Autodesk.

AutoCAD P&ID was the first product Autodesk launched in the process and power space four years ago. The company considers process and power “a significant area of growth” even with the customer base of AutoCAD and Navisworks.

The value of 3D plant design software is known to users and to respondents to the Daratech survey. When asked how 3D plant software had changed their business, comments included:, “1) 3D modeling reduces field interferences by 85 percent, Data rich models provide a deeper understanding of material needs much sooner in the project, (3) Data mining the models improves facility maintenance for the plant’s entire life-cycle.”

“3D is key for our as-built procedures, based on 3D-Scan.”

“Better clash checking between disciplines”

“On-the-job [site] mistakes and material ordering mistakes are fewer because the
majority of the plant is modeled in 3D by all disciplines, and clash detection is used.”

“These folks really want to use 3D but it has been out of reach, maybe because of cost, or because they don’t have an organization that can support complex databases,” said Shear.

Those interested can download Plant 3D and try it. In terms of learning curve, Shear said, those familiar with AutoCAD “aren’t learning a new software or command structure, they’re just learning the new features they need to do their job.”

When asked about AutoCAD Plant 3D compatibility with other 3D plant products, Shear pointed out that the bulk of the market are Brownfield projects, so there are existing drawings and models to refer to which are probably in DWG format. “Most likely the client is going to ask for their deliverables in DWG,” said Shear, whether the project was developed in another product or not.

“We don’t explicitly have interoperability with Plant 3D with the other 3D design packages out there but obviously it supports DWG,” he added.

Navisworks offers more compatibility: Navisworks has the ability to bring in the model from the other vendors aggregated into a single 3D representation. It allows the user to do clash detection, walkthroughs and safety analysis.

20-40 customers are currently beta testing Plant 3D 2010. An example is Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, global water and wastewater treatment experts headquartered in Singapore, is using AutoCAD Plant 3D Beta 3 on a bid for a water treatment plant project. According to Veolia CAD Manager Alan Chew, “I'm already impressed with AutoCAD Plant 3D’s ease of use; I downloaded the software and started designing the project the very next day.”

Plant 3D has been architected to be ISO 15926-ready, and the XM Plant Schema is emerging for that, but according to Shear, the rest of the protocol and standard is quite immature. Customers aren’t asking for it yet, but as that standard matures, Plant 3D will be able to quite easily implement it.

While Plant 3D is AutoCAD at its core, it is similar to AutoCAD Architecture and is “purpose-built,” which is described as having many facets to be able to support large scale 3D projects, Shear said its 3D rendering engine and other technologies are all “100 percent AutoCAD” which is an “evolving platform.” There is a beta architecture underneath that allows Plant 3D to handle large models with millions of parts, which is new to AutoCAD.

In conjunction with this announcement, Autodesk launched a new community for plant designers and engineers on AutoCAD Exchange called AutoCAD Exchange Plant

“The genius in this product is the fact it is based on AutoCAD,” said Shear. “let’s go for where the user base is and make a very practical, productive product. The other fact is that the product managers really understood that the fact that change is constant in a project, especially these days where timeframes are compressed and information changes minute by minute. The product has been designed to adapt to those changes, which happen every day all the time.”

Top News of the Week

During a recent seminar at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Bentley Systems, Incorporated and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) made it clear that robust energy simulation tools are the key to creating high performance buildings that:

Bentley’s Hevacomp Simulator V8i software takes full advantage of the U.S. DOE’s industry-standard EnergyPlus simulation engine to provide highly accurate building energy analysis and design.

Autodesk, Inc., and Parallels, a worldwide provider of virtualization and automation software, announced that they have signed an agreement to make Parallels Desktop for Mac Autodesk's preferred Mac virtualization software.

Autodesk will now support use of AutoCAD software, AutoCAD LT software, Autodesk Inventor Professional software, Autodesk 3ds Max software, Autodesk 3ds Max Design software and the Autodesk Revit software platform for BIM on Mac OS X via Parallels Desktop. Autodesk added official support for these products on the Mac via Boot Camp earlier this year.

In a continuing effort to provide high quality products, Autodesk has released AutoCAD Civil 2010 Update 2, which fixes or addresses a variety of issues discovered by customers and by Autodesk's internal testing team.

Acquisitions, Alliances, Agreements

Vico Software and Newforma have announced a partnership to jointly develop product integration between their 5D-BIM and PIM solutions. The partnership will utilize, as its strategic basis, the agcXML schema for open data exchange between Vico Office and Newforma Project Center to execute requests for information (RFIs) and to coordinate the change management process.

GRAITEC, a developer for analysis and detailing software announces a new strategic distribution agreement with MATRIX, a software company headquartered in the Netherlands. The partnership agreement signed between the two companies entitles MATRIX to promote, distribute and support the Advance Suite product line in the Netherlands and in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.

NVIDIA announced work with Microsoft to promote NVIDIA Tesla graphics processing units (GPUs) for high performance parallel computing using the Windows HPC Server 2008 operating system.

Hagerman & Company, Inc., announced the acquisition of AEC CAD Solutions - Knoxville, Tennessee’s oldest Autodesk reseller.

AEC CAD Solutions has held a highly regarded position as supplier to design engineers in the fields of manufacturing, architecture, engineering and government in East Tennessee since 1996. Scott Daley, AEC CAD Solutions CEO, will continue to serve as a consultant to Hagerman for two years following the transaction, effective October 1, 2009.


Twenty-four of the largest and most influential architecture, engineering, and development firms based in the U.S., which are responsible for a combined $100 billion in building construction annually, have joined forces with Architecture 2030, a non-profit research organization, to call on Congress to update national building code standards to meet steep and achievable energy reduction targets.

Specifically, this group is pressing the Senate to pass the building energy reduction targets in Section 241 of the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (S. 1462) and incorporate timelines to reach carbon-neutral buildings by 2030.

A consortium of leading technology companies announced the creation of the Open Mashup Alliance, an organization dedicated to the successful use of Enterprise Mashup technologies and adoption of an open language that promotes Enterprise Mashup interoperability and portability.

The Open Mashup Alliance (OMA) founding members includes software vendors, consulting companies, technology service providers and industry leaders that share a common interest in promoting the open, free-to-use Enterprise Mashup Markup Language (EMML) for the development, interoperability and compatibility of Enterprise Mashup offerings. The charter members of the OMA include Adobe, Bank of America, Capgemini, Hinchcliffe & Company, HP, Intel, JackBe, Kapow Technologies, ProgrammableWeb, Synteractive, and Xignite.

A newly released guide from ASHRAE on building information models and building information modeling (BIM) serves as a resource for professionals considering BIM tools and applications for their businesses.

According to An Introduction to Building Information Modeling, BIM is “a digital representation of the physical and the functional characteristics of a facility.” Unlike 2-D or 3-D CAD, BIM software utilizes intelligent objects to create models.

Construction software developer HCSS has been named one of 15 winners of The Wall Street Journal’s Top Small Workplaces in America competition. HCSS and the other winners were profiled in the September 28 edition of The Wall Street Journal.


Avatech Solutions, Inc. announced financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended June 30, 2009.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, the Company reported revenues of $35.4 million, compared to $49.6 million in the prior-year period. See press release


HP announced the appointment of Christopher Morgan as senior vice president of the Graphics Solutions global business unit within company’s Imaging and Printing Group, effective Nov. 1.

He will report to Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of the Imaging and Printing Group. Morgan succeeds Michael Hoffmann, who is leaving HP to pursue other professional interests.

New Products

Intergraph released SmartPlant Construction, a new SmartPlant Enterprise software module created specifically for process, power and marine firms to more efficiently plan and manage plant, ship and offshore construction, resulting in increased productivity, accelerated project completion, and reduced risk. By seamlessly integrating engineering, procurement, fabrication and site materials, SmartPlant Construction facilitates improved work planning, efficient information exchange for better communication and enhanced engineering and construction work processes.

Deltek, Inc. announced that numerous government contractors have embraced AppGRC for Deltek Costpoint since the solution was released in February 2009, including three industry-leading government contractors that are reducing the cost of compliance reporting with AppGRC for Deltek Costpoint. Powered by Lumigent, the GRC business apps company, organizations such as ATK, Camber Corporation and Comprehensive Health Services have automated the monitoring of key Costpoint data making it easier to provide persuasive evidence of DCAA, SOX and other regulatory compliance to auditors.

OrthoGraph products were always capable of managing intelligent object libraries and building parts. It became a clear need to have integration to BIM AEC software that have more just than a 2D or 3D drawing. As the BIM concept is originated from Graphisoft, the inventor of ArchiCAD, OrthoGraph decided to build up integration to it.

As a result please feel free to  download and use ArchiCAD integration module, the OrthoGraph Import .APX Add-On of ArchiCAD.

Lay Off is a new SketchUp plugin that changes the visibility behavior of new Layers.

When enabled, added Layers are visible only in the current Scene only, and hidden in all other Scenes (current and future.) When disabled, you get the "normal" SketchUp behavior you are used to.

The latest ebook from upFront.eZine Publishing is the 144-page Bricscad for AutoCAD Users ebook. It describes the similarities and differences between the two CAD programs, and would be of interest to CAD users interested in transitioning to Bricscad.

COADE announced the release of CADWorx P&ID Professional, part of the COADE CADWorx Plant Design Suite, with support for AutoCAD 2010 in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions plus new capabilities such as new tools to selectively match values of database columns from components selected and to select database values inherited from the process line during component selection. Line numbering capabilities have also been enhanced.

Green Ideas Green Actions (GIGA) launches China's first online system to identify and evaluate green building materials at the Clinton Global Initiative. By visiting the website, architects and builders in China will be able to upload, review and find the best green materials in China.

Cadopolis.com launches its new  Apple development site and unveils addDecor as it inaugural application for the iPhone and iPod Touch!

AddDecor is the result of close collaboration between interior designers, architects, home builders, and home owners. It is a simple and elegant solution to any decorating project. AddDecor is about conveying thoughts through pictures and about communicating your ideas in full detail.

TLCD Architecture, a team of architects, interior designers, and collaborators designing community-oriented projects throughout Northern California, announced the publication of an extensive case study written by Ideate, Inc. featuring TLCD Architecture as a leading-edge firm in design technology.

Around the Web

Webcast examines BIM virtues, challenges September 25, 2009, Daily Commercial News and Construction Record

210 King St East Revit Model – Version 2 [LEED][BIM] September 25, 2009, BimBoom Revitlution (Blog)




ISEIT America 2009
Date: October 6 - 7, 2009
Place: Grand Hyatt
Berlin, Germany

Today especially, businesses must focus on delivering more, in less time and at lower costs. So the theme for ISEIT this year is 'Effective execution - from Concept to Operations'. Whether in design and construction or plant operations, information, and the technology and work processes wrapped around it, holds the key to effective execution.

IFMA's World Workplace 2009 Conference & Expo
Date: October 7 - 9, 2009
Place: Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL USA

IFMA’s World Workplace is hosted annually by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the largest and most widely recognized professional association for facility management. IFMA’s World Workplace encompasses the vast educational, networking and buying opportunities available through IFMA year-round.

Webinar: AVEVA Pipe Stress Interface
Date: October 7, 2009
Place: USA

Cut project times in half with AVEVA Pipe Stress Interface. Designed with a specialist's needs in mind, this powerful solution automates the flow of information between designers and stress analysts to reduce costs, accelerate rrojects and improve efficiency.

Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Time: 11:30am CDT (9:30am PDT)
Audience: Open to all
Duration: 30 minutes

Interbuild 2009
Date: October 18 - 21, 2009
Place: NEC
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Interbuild is the leading exhibition for the construction industry, featuring the bestSustainability Street innovations for building and refurbishment products, materials and equipment. Interbuild 2009 features two new shows - Interbuild Specifier has been created to meet the needs of specifiers, with ground breaking new feature areas such as Sustainability Street. Whilst Interbuild Onsite offers the building trade everything they need for when they go onsite.  Find out more about visiting Interbuild 2009.

11th Annual Lean Construction Congress
Date: October 20 - 23, 2009
Place: Millennium Harvest House Boulder Hotel
1345 Twenty-Eighth Street, Boulder, CO 80302-6899 USA

The 11th Annual Congress will feature owners, designers, contractors and suppliers describing what they have experienced and learned adopting Lean Construction. Sessions will include reports from healthcare owners and their project teams, companies undergoing a lean transformation, project reports, advances in lean construction practices, and International and LCI Chapter reports.

2009 Axium User Conference: Unlock the Possibilities
Date: October 22 - 24, 2009
Place: The Benson Hotel
Portland, OR USA

Users of Axium’s Software Solutions - both firms and individuals - are increasingly able to open your options for growth and success. The 2009 Axium User Conference will create opportunities for you to discover a world of endless possibilities. Axium wants to encourage you to explore unknown capabilities in order to increase your business’ productivity and overall profitability. Principals, Project Managers and Accountants can all benefit from the in-depth product training or industry best practice sessions.

CMAA's 2009 National Conference & Trade Show
Date: October 25 - 27, 2009
Place: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Orlando, FL USA

CMAA is North America’s only organization dedicated exclusively to the interests of professional Construction and Program Management. The Association was formed in 1982. Current membership is more than 5,000, including individual CM/PM practitioners, corporate members, and construction owners in both public and private sectors, along with academic and associate members. CMAA has 25 regional chapters.

7th Annual Design on the Delaware Conference & Trade Show
Date: October 28 - 30, 2009
Place: Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel
Philadelphia, PA USA

Design on the Delaware is a two day conference and trade show that brings together design and building professionals, business and public leaders, product and service providers for a two day trade show and three days of professional education and networking. The event is a collaborative effort of 25 professional organizations representing over 10,000 design and building professionals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

Sunbelt Builders Show™
Date: October 29 - 31, 2009
Place: Gaylord Texan
Grapevine, TX USA

The Sunbelt Builders Show™ is one of the largest building industry events in the United States, attracting over 5,000 participants to over 300 exhibit booths and 21 education sessions. Now in its ninth year, the Sunbelt Builders ShowTM offers the chance to generate valuable qualified sales leads, establish a presence in the Southwest market, showcase your product or services to the region's top builders & developers and to network with your clients & prospective clients.

Webinar: Using Client Feedback to Increase Profits and Reduce Liability
Date: October 29, 2009
Place: USA

See how to collect and incorporate objective feedback from your design firm's clients so as to increase your firm's sustainable profitability and client loyalty, while also reducing the cost and frequency of client problems and liability claims. This live webinar, presented by Mike Phillips AIA, the design industry's foremost expert on utilizing client feedback, will explain the six simple steps for developing a working feedback system, customized for your firm

Time:  10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Webinar:Getting to the bottom of your inbox: managing project email, part 2
Date: October 30, 2009
Place: USA

Join us to explore how software for project information management helps you manage the flow of email messages, capture decision trails and assure the integrity of project records.

Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

29th IRMI Construction Risk Conference
Date: November 1 - 5, 2009
Place: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
Washington, DC USA

The 29th IRMI Construction Risk Conference will be held November 1-5, 2009, at the  Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in the Washington, D.C., area. Register now to experience first-hand the exceptional educational value and unparalleled networking opportunities the IRMI Construction Risk Conference offers! This is the premier forum for sharing ideas and techniques for improving the ways we manage and insure construction risks.

2009 Pacific Building EXPO
Date: November 4, 2009
Place: Hawaii Convention Center
Honolulu, HI USA

The Expo is the largest trade venue serving Hawai’i’s building design professionals and contractors.  It features the latest building products and services from hundreds of suppliers and offers a full schedule of accredited continuing education seminars addressing current issues, innovations and techniques in the building design industry.  Admission to the Pacific Building Trade Expo for attendees is FREE and exclusive to the building industry design professionals and contractors.

Architecture Exchange East 2009
Date: November 4 - 6, 2009
Place: Greater Richmond Convention Center
Richmond, VA USA

This is a working show, the specifiers attend and are looking for new products. ArchEx is at the top of my list as far as how a regional specification exhibition should be organized. It is the best run of all the many shows I attend throughout the country, including many national shows. ArchEx is just a solid presentation with a great venue and, what is particularly impressive is how well the show attendance matches up with the product specifiers I need to grow our business.

Structural Engineers' Building Conference & Expo
Date: November 5 - 6, 2009
323 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL USA

The Structural Engineers' Buildings Conference & Expo is the only annual conference to focus simultaneously on the most up-to-date technical issues in the successful completion of buildings, and the necessary management issues to increase your business expertise.

2009 Design-Build Conference & Expo
Date: November 5 - 7, 2009
Place: Gaylord National
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD USA

In 2009, Design-Build and Integrated Project Delivery is here to stay, and has arrived as the proven A/E/C methodology of choice for achieving high-performance projects in all sectors, public and private.  With the advent of tools such as building information modeling (BIM), owners have come to demand (and expect) expertise in collaboration and faster, more efficient, cost-effective projects.  Low-bid contracting and line-item product specifying is a thing of the past, and the integrated high-performance team approach is how you now must plan and position your marketing message.