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AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management – Part 3: Managing Your Room Changes from the Cloud

January 11, 2012 3 comments

Welcome to the third part of the series of AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management (FM).

In Part 2, we talked about how easy it is to manage our space in our building from the cloud, using a tablet device and AutoCAD WS. This time, we are sharing from FULL AutoCAD using the AutoCAD WS plug-in.

Managing Your Room Tables from the Cloud

Quite often, the FM manager needs to get revised FM CAD information to a remote facilities site within minutes to make sure that the work is done with as little time lapse as possible, in different time zones, for example.

An FM drawing in FULL AutoCAD with a room areas table. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

An FM drawing in FULL AutoCAD with a room areas table. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Now, the issue is the facilities manager in London wants to convert RM-0012 and RM-0013 into the one room, RM-0012. He needs to get the changes over to the facilities technician in Abu Dhabi working on the new hotel design, who is running AutoCAD WS on a tablet device (an iPad, maybe).

Step 1

Using full AutoCAD, the manager in London has already shared revision 2 (Rev2) of the drawing that shows the TWO rooms. The manager makes the necessary changes to make RM-0012 one LARGER room by erasing RM-0013.

Rev 3 of the FM drawing showing changes that need to be made. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Rev3 of the FM drawing showing changes that need to be made. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Once the drawing is saved, the FM manager UPLOADS the drawing to the cloud with the AutoCAD WS plug-in and then SHARES the drawing with the FM technician on-site in Abu Dhabi.

Sharing the FM drawing using the AutoCAD WS plug-in. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Sharing the FM drawing using the AutoCAD WS plug-in. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Step 2

The FM technician in Abu Dhabi receives an email from the FM manager in London on his tablet device.

Email received by FM technician on tablet device. (Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Email received by FM technician on tablet device. (Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.)

Step 3

The FM technician chooses to view the drawing in AutoCAD WS online (as shown in figure above).

So, this time, the AutoCAD WS plug-in for full AutoCAD provides the 24/7 timeline and allows drawing management and revisions to be shared to the cloud, on a tablet device.

Author: Shaun Bryant

Mobile Vs. Deskside: CAD Workstations Don’t Follow Conventional Rules

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

A disconnect has been emerging between the perception and reality of mobile workstation sales and usage. Since its emergence almost a decade ago, I’ve viewed the mobile workstation as a slam-dunk when it came to replacing conventional corporate/consumer notebooks, as they are far more appropriate devices for hard-core graphics professionals. But especially recently, the buzz about mobile machines becoming more than road-warrior tools — but instead deskside replacements —has gotten louder.

Now, I haven’t been talking up a major shift to mobiles, despite the buzz, as I’ve maintained there are fundamental reasons workstation users won’t make the move en masse the way the mainstream has. While the mobile workstation has indeed established itself as a major contributor (roughly a quarter of all units sold), desksides are still the dominant majority. Mobiles remain a critical tool for the hard-core workstation user, but unless that user’s really out of the office for the majority of his time, the mobile isn’t going to replace the deskside, at least not in the majority of cases.

A while back, Intel CEO Paul Otellini officially declared the end of the desktop’s reign as the leading PC form factor, having been passed in volume by notebooks (and all its derivative mobile forms). But as one might expect after thinking about typical professional usage models, the workstation market doesn’t play by the same rules.

Unlike broader PC market, deskbound workstations still outsell mobiles

Unlike broader PC market, deskbound workstations still outsell mobiles ~3:1. (Source: Jon Peddie Research)

Contrary to the perception of some, the mobile form factor’s share of the workstation market has been flat for the past two years (bouncing around the 25% level) and really hasn’t changed that much since four years ago, when it accounted for about 20% of sales.

Now there’s no doubt the mobile workstation will remain a vibrant and valuable segment of the workstation market — and might take the place of desksides in niche pockets to address special circumstances. But the fact that its share flattened after a strong period of growth reinforces the notion that it won’t be a broad-based replacement for its more traditional, fixed-location sibling

Would you give up your deskside CAD workstation for a mobile? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let us know.

Author: Alex Herrera

AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management – Part 2: Managing Your Space from the Cloud

December 22, 2011 4 comments

Welcome to the second part of the series of AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management (or FM as we call it).

In Part 1, we talked about how easy it is to work with our FM drawings in the cloud using AutoCAD WS and a mobile device, such as a tablet. So, this time we are going to go in to a bit more detail.

Managing Your Space from the Cloud

Space management is a must in FM and rooms need to be “tagged” with an identifier, such as a room number (see Fig.1) below.

An FM drawing with room numbers shown.

An FM drawing with room numbers shown.

As you can see, the rooms are classed as RM-0012 and RM-0013. So, based on Part 1 of this series, what happens if those rooms are re-numbered on site in Abu Dhabi and we need to let the facilities manager in London know?

Step 1

That’s where the wonder of AutoCAD WS kicks in. Using the uploaded drawing in AutoCAD WS on a mobile device, our FM technician in Abu Dhabi can update the room numbers on the fly, saving the drawing as he/she goes.

Room number revised in AutoCAD WS on mobile device.

Room number revised in AutoCAD WS on mobile device.

Step 2

The facilities technician then shares the saved drawing from AutoCAD WS using the Share button which sends an email back to London.

The AutoCAD WS Share dialog box.

The AutoCAD WS Share dialog box. Click photo to see larger version.

Step 3

The facilities manager in London receives an email with the share invite and can open the drawing in AutoCAD WS or just download the revised drawing in full AutoCAD with the changes already in place.

Email received from AutoCAD WS with option to download revised drawing from the cloud.

Email received from AutoCAD WS with option to download revised drawing from the cloud. Click photo to see larger version.

So, again, AutoCAD WS on a mobile device provides that 24/7 timeline and allows space management from the cloud.

Author: Shaun Bryant

AutoCAD WS for Facilities Management – Part 1: Collaboration in the Cloud

December 13, 2011 8 comments

I was one of those CAD geeks who did the loop around my small office when AutoCAD WS was released. It is a sophisticated mobility tool that Autodesk was savvy enough to release for free. Now available on the App Store for Apple devices and native Macs as well as the Android Market for Android devices, it gives a massive scope to CAD users and facilities managers alike.

AutoCAD WS and Facility Management

So here’s an FM scenario that is all too familiar. The facility management company is based in London. The facility being managed is in Abu Dhabi. Communication is hindered by the time difference, and paper drawings or emailed drawings just don’t cut it.

The solution is AutoCAD WS on a mobile device. An iPad, a Dell Streak or Motorola Xoom, perhaps, allowing the man on the Abu Dhabi facility site to implement immediate changes to the AutoCAD drawing. The process would be as follows:

Step 1

The drawing originator in London uses the AutoCAD WS plug-in for full AutoCAD to upload the FM drawing to the AutoCAD WS “cloud” from their PC or Mac.

Using the AutoCAD WS plug-in in full AutoCAD to upload to the cloud. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Using the AutoCAD WS plug-in in full AutoCAD to upload to the cloud. Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

The originator will be prompted that saved changes will be updated online.

AutoCAD WS prompts about saved changes. Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

AutoCAD WS prompts about saved changes. Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Step 2

The drawing originator then shares the drawing by sending an AutoCAD WS email to the facility manager in Abu Dhabi, with the appropriate permissions.

Sharing the drawing from AutoCAD WS. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Sharing the drawing from AutoCAD WS. Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Step 3

Upon receipt of that email, the facility manager clicks on the link in the email and open ups the drawing in AutoCAD WS on their mobile tablet. The device shown is a Motorola Xoom with Android running AutoCAD WS.

Using a mobile device on-site to make live room changes. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

Using a mobile device on-site to make live room changes. Click for larger image. Image courtesy of Autodesk, Inc.

We can use mobile devices to enhance our productivity by bringing drawings in to the real world. It is environmentally sustainable (no paper – more rain forests), and it speeds up the communication process. As soon as the drawing originator uploads that drawing to AutoCAD WS, the facility manager can work on it. They can make changes on their mobile device that the originator will see on the main drawing and make sure the original drawing is fully up to date.

More importantly, the timeline is 24 hours. Everyone has access to the drawing in the cloud 24/7 providing they have AutoCAD WS permissions. They can view and edit the “cloud” drawing anytime using their mobile device or using their PC or Mac.

Next we’ll talk about AutoCAD WS and space management.

Mobility is here. Period.

Author: Shaun Bryant

What Type of Computer Do You Use for CAD Work?

September 23, 2011 6 comments

Since early August, Cadalyst.com has been running a poll asking users, “What type of computer do you use primarily for CAD-related work?” As this post went live, 905 people had voted.

As every user knows, CAD software isn’t your standard PC software. It takes some horsepower to work with these heavy-duty programs. Add 3D rendering, design analysis, or other high-end tools, and you’ve got to have a machine with some muscle behind it. So we aren’t too surprised that our poll results show that desktop professional workstations are, so far, the most common among our readership (37%). The standard desktop PC is a close second (35%).

Mobile workstations (11%) and standard PC notebooks (8%) are making a respectable showing in our poll. Mobile computers offer a great deal of flexibility, especially for those who travel, and in recent years have evolved to offer power that’s comparable to that of a desktop system. However, that mobility comes at a price. Whether opting for a mobile workstation or standard PC notebook, the user can expect to pay a premium for mobility. This may be the greatest factor behind most companies’ decisions to opt for desktop systems.

Last, but just as intriguing, is the number of Mac users (7%) who have responded. Mac OS owns about 10.7% of overall PC market share as of summer 2011, according to research firm Gartner. However, fewer Mac-based software solutions are available for the Mac user vs. the PC user — in fact, AutoCAD for Mac was absent from the market for nearly two decades until its reintroduction

last year — which likely explains the nearly 4% lower adoption rate indicated by our poll. As Mac continues to grow in popularity and software developers continue to introduce more Mac-based CAD products, this number will no doubt increase.

So, what type of computer are you using for CAD? Are you part of the desktop crowd, going mobile, or having a Mac attack? It’s not too late to chime in. Vote today!

Test your powers of prediction and comment below on any hardware trends you see in the CAD world!

What type of computer do you use for CAD work?

Current poll results

AutoCAD WS: Go Mobile and Collaborate in Real Time

July 12, 2011 6 comments

With over 2 million downloads in less than a year — AutoCAD WS has become quite the mobile sensation. Thanks to Cloud technology, you can now upload your drawings to AutoCAD WS — and access them from any iOS  (iPod touch, iPAD, iPhone) or Google Android device.

For the AutoCAD user, that means the ability to take your drawings to the job site, with or without an internet connection, and use the markup features to update the drawings remotely. If you happen to have an internet connection – your coworkers back in the office can actually see your edits in real time!

And did I mention it is free of charge? (and we all love free!).

Alert:  This is how you’re going to get your boss to approve a iPad or tablet!

AutoCAD WS isn’t just for remote use – it’s also a strong player in collaboration.  You can share your drawing files with others (even if they don’t have AutoCAD) and invite them to an online collaboration session. AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD for Mac have tools built right into the user interface to managing your drawing and sharing super easy.

Accessing AutoCAD WS web service

Click for larger image.

So let’s say you want to share a drawing file with someone.  Simply select the Share drawing option in AutoCAD and entire the email address of the intended collaborator.  You can decide whether they can edit and/or download the drawing (as opposed to just viewing the drawing file).

Collaborate with AutoCAD WS web service

Click for larger image.

Or maybe you just want a safe and secure place to keep your drawing files.  With security as tight as your bank  (which I like to think is super secure) you can upload your drawing files at the end of your work day and access them from anywhere.  Maybe you decide to work at home the next day – not a problem as you can just grab your saved drawing files from AutoCAD WS.

The online version of AutoCAD WS (http://www.autocadws.com/) has a decent set of drawing and editing tools for basic markups.  You can even turn layers on and off – or create new layers (great for markups).  I love the Timeline option (and certainly wish AutoCAD had this) that allows you to go back in time and check out the various revisions.

Sharing with AutoCAD WS web service

Click for larger image.

So how many files can you post on AutoCAD WS?  As many as you want! (and did I mention it is free?).  There is a 15mb limit per drawing but other than that the storage capacity is limitless – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Give AutoCAD WS a try — you won’t believe the capabilities you get at such a tiny price tag (and $0 is about as tiny as you can possibly get!)

Did you miss the Dell-Sponsored TwitterChat on AutoCAD WS web service with Lynn Allen last month? Click here for the archive!

Author: Lynn Allen, Autodesk Evangelist. Find more tips from Lynn Allen on Cadalyst.com.

Hardware Configurations for Solid Edge and Other CAD Applications

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Since high performance, high scalability workstations can cost a bit more than traditional desktops or laptops, people should do some comparison shopping first. An entry-level desktop workstation can be both price competitive and still offer many features of traditionally higher priced workstations. So what should you look for when you are comparing hardware features?

Dual Core vs. Quad Core

One thing to consider is that CAD is still mostly a single-threaded application (yeah, there are some places it is not like rendering and FEA and it is slowly creeping into other aspects of CAD), but if you mainly do CAD modeling, max clock speed is the goal. On a desktop workstation, the quad core offers highest frequency (3.2 GHz) vs. the dual core (2.53 GHz). While six cores are not necessary for Solid Edge, you should consider what other applications you will be running, perhaps simultaneously, to determine the total number of cores you will need.

On a mobile workstation, however, both the quad core and dual core processors offer the same frequencies (max turbo), the quad core does so at a much higher price point. The base frequency on the quad core is lower (2.50 GHz).

More Power

Higher power graphics and more memory are both are important for CAD when loading complex models and assemblies and of course manipulating them fluidly. It is the workstation where the delineation between these components (memory, OpenGL graphics and CPU speed) and a normal desktop is most noticeable.

A couple folks on the Solid Edge forum pointed out they have gotten some good deals at the Dell Outlet store. These are not brand new systems and the inventory can fluctuate, but if you are on a tight budget this option may be for you. I’d hate to manage a CAD team where every designer has a different model, but for an individual or small shop, it might be worth considering.

Below are some sample configurations to help you in your research. These configurations were provided by Dell so Solid Edge users could have some comparisons during the Solid Edge ST4 Global Launch Event, held June 15-16, 2011, in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hardware Configurations for CAD Workstations

Hardware Configurations for CAD Workstations

Hardware Configurations for Mobile CAD Workstations

Hardware Configurations for Mobile CAD Workstations

Author: Mark Burhop – Programs Director, Velocity Technology Ecosystem – Siemens PLM.
Find Mark Burhop on Twitter http://twitter.com/burhop

Plan a CAD Software and Hardware Upgrade, Part 3: Find the Right Solutions

April 28, 2011 2 comments
Do your research for CAD upgrades.

Do your research before asking about upgrades.

The first part of this series about upgrading CAD software and hardware talked about using the Information Technology Lifecycle to help define how computer software and hardware can support your company’s business goals. The first three steps help you define the needs and measure your current productivity levels. Next we’ll discuss how to recommend solutions.

Step 4

Recommend solutions that fit your business. If you are going to the company’s decision makers with a problem, it’s best to have the solution. Take the initiative to find out the benefits of the upgrades you want, and then include those as part of the solution. Also, be aware of any software system requirements. Your new CAD software might require Windows 7, but will your other, older applications work on that operating system? Do your own research now to prevent unpleasant surprises after your company invests in new computer systems.

Step 5

Think outside the box. Many design professionals and their IT personnel understand that software upgrades, particularly upgrading from 2D to 3D CAD or taking on demanding design analysis or visualization applications, means you also need to increase computing power. What many don’t realize, however, is that simply increasing the memory or processing power of a standard desktop PC isn’t necessarily enough. Be sure to work with IT to fully consider the value of upgrading to a professional workstation. Many workstations are certified for specific CAD applications. They can improve throughput as well as decrease down time to such a degree that they often pay for themselves within months of integration — and many of the latest models start at prices that are comparable to those of standard PCs. Work with your IT contacts to be sure you consider all hardware options, not just the familiar. You’ll be more productive and your IT department will spend less time addressing system crashes.

Step 6

Consider managed services. Here’s the gist: Your IT personnel have a lot of things to deal with on a daily basis. Many companies are using managed services to control the workload. Managed services are externally provided operations and management capabilities delivered over a networked infrastructure, using a monthly subscription model or recurring charge. Managed services can be provided for networks, security, databases, servers, storage, and applications. Think of managed services as making your IT personnel’s job a little easier, instead of harder. Find out how managed services might fit in with your company’s upgrade plans. Automated Windows system updates, CAD licensing services and security patches are good examples of managed services that will keep you focusing on your CAD designs instead of calling your IT personnel about computer problems.

Explaining how technology integrates with your company’s business goals will make it easier for your management team to understand your suggestions for upgrade. Once all parties are on the same page, you’ll have a much stronger position for advocating for the hardware and software upgrades that can help you do your job better.

Authors: Mark Shaw and James Ecklund

Plan a CAD Software and Hardware Upgrade, Part 2: Define Needs, Measure Productivity

April 27, 2011 2 comments
Define your CAD needs, Measure your productivity

To plan a hardware or software upgrade, define your CAD needs and measure your current level of productivity.

The first part of this series about upgrading CAD software and hardware talked about using the Information Technology Lifecycle to help define how computer software and hardware can support your company’s business goals. These first three steps help you define the needs and measure your current productivity levels.

Step 1

Define your company’s needs to understand how it uses technology. The truth is that if you are a CAD user, technology is highly relevant to your job function. In fact, we’d go so far as to say the two elements are inseparable. Summarize your company’s need as succinctly as possible. My company develops and manufactures widgets that are designed with ABC CAD software and produced via XYZ CAM software using DEFG equipment.

Step 2

Measure your technology pain points and their impact on the organization’s productivity. Here’s where users get to really show how an upgrade can make their life easier. Are systems timing out? Crashing frequently? Are you missing deadlines because of system inefficiencies? Do you need better collaboration tools? List the problems and how they make your job harder, because these things are making your IT department’s job harder too.

Step 3

Analyze what works and what needs to be improved. Chances are not everything is problematic, so figure out what works well, too. By identifying what is working right, you can better define the areas that need to be improved.

Next we’ll discuss how to recommend solutions.

Authors: Mark Shaw and James Ecklund

Plan a CAD Software and Hardware Upgrade, Part 1: Working with Your IT Department

April 26, 2011 4 comments
CAD Software and Hardware Upgrade

Present your CAD needs in terms of their business benefits to get approval.

Spring has sprung, and with it comes the buzz that surrounds all the announcements of new CAD software, workstations, and other hardware that burst onto the scene this time of year. As a CAD user or manager, you might be eyeing these new products and considering the benefits of upgrading. However, as is often the case, your IT department has different ideas about how your computer system should work. Here are some tips from the perspective of a systems integrator about how to speak the language of the IT professional and improve your chances of getting the hardware and software updates you need.

As a CAD user or CAD manager, you want your CAD system to work efficiently and help you get your job done on time and on budget. Your IT support staff members want that too, but they also have to weigh in on how the CAD system integrates with all the other computer software and hardware in the company.

What all parties have at heart are your company’s business goals. To instill a spirit of cooperation during system upgrades, we at StoredTech use the Information Technology Lifecycle to help define how computer software and hardware can support your business goals. Use this six-step process to develop a strategy to talk about CAD upgrades with internal departments, from your IT personnel to your company’s management team.

The overall goal is to present your CAD department’s needs in terms of their business benefits to improve the chances that they will gain acceptance. Our next two posts will explain how to do just that!

Authors: Mark Shaw and James Ecklund