Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Autodesk first revolutionized the software industry with the AutoCAD® which introduced drafting on a PC. AutoCAD paved the way for Autodesk technology leadership in industries such as building, infrastructure, manufacturing, media and entertainment, and wireless data. Today DWF plays a part in all of these endeavors.
Infrastructure (mapping, telecommunications, etc.)
What these industries have in common is that design data needs to be created, managed, and shared. The combination of geometric primitives and expressive metadata allows DWF to be the vehicle by which this happens.
Let's look at a building project as an example of what typically happens today (the black line) versus what Autodesk is doing with DWF (the orange line).
- Design - Design information is accumulated in a digital form via a design application. Often this is AutoCAD with data dispersed among a set of DWG files.
- Procure - Despite the fact that a set of DWG files exist, when it is time to send out design data out for Bid, this is typically done by sending out paper. The digital form is not shared. General and subcontractors undertake a quantity takeoff exercise where items are counted. This is often done with a clicker and a red pen. The process involves taking those counts and applying factors, such as materials to be used and time involved, to produce an estimate. The process may involve specialized software, e.g. Timberline, to produce a bid. But even when such software is used, the data from the Design phase is manually reentered into the estimation software.
- Build - After the request for bids have been sent out, bids received, and winning bidders have been Awarded, it is time to schedule the actual work. Even though a set of spreadsheets, Timberline files, or other files exist from the Procure phase, schedules are often created from scratch. The subcontractors and tasks are reentered into a scheduling program.
- Manage - When a project is completed and the "Ribbon has been cut, it is time to manage the building. Very often all of the data that has been used in the earlier construction phases is not leveraged. It is true that "as built" plans are sometimes generated, but these are typically provided as paper.
So you can see how at each phase, a set of digital assets is created, knowledge is built up, yet those assets and knowledge are discarded or not used optimally at the start of the next phase. The goal of DWF is to provide a conduit that can capture all of this knowledge in one file that can transcend the entire process.
- The design data is captured in a DWF file via the geometry. This exists today.
- The bidding information can be captured via DWF metadata. Autodesk is working on the Quantity Takeoff workflow now. For the present, Excel workbooks can be printed using the Autodesk DWF Writer. The resulting sheets can be aggregated with other design data using Autodesk Design Review.
- Schedule information can be included in a DWF file today. This can be done via metadata or publishing from applications like Microsoft Project using the Autodesk DWF Writer. The resulting sheets can be aggregated using Autodesk Design Review.
- Managing a facility can be accomplished using a combination of geometry and metadata. The Autodesk People Finder is an example of how employee data can be integrated with facility data.
"Where would we be without electricity?" There will come a day where we will ask "Where would we be without electronic processes?" DWF is the basis for workflow solutions that address projects from a life cycle management perspective. This is true for all Autodesk customer industries. We can do better than using only paper.