Posts Tagged sketchup

Holy Frijoles: Trimble acquires SketchUp : Game on to own Digital Buildings

As they say on Sport Center, Trimble is en fuego, they acquired Tekla earlier with a well documented, well established player, especially in the structural space who also released their own BIM product with BIMsight, and now they are acquiring Sketch Up.  While all the SketchUp users are asking, ‘who the hell is Trimble?’  The Trimble folks, or AEC folks understand.  Looks to me that Trimble is vertically integrating and surrounding the ‘digital’ building.  Someone said to me somewhere along the line that “Leica is an engineering organization that has to sell stuff.  Trimble is a sales organization that happens to sell surveying equipment” Anyway you get the gist.  Makes one wonder what Autodesk will counter with now that Trimble has crashed the party.  Seems like Google has decided to give up the building data market and concentrate in collecting every piece of information that exists about individuals instead.  That’s too bad because it would have been interesting to see the Google Machine start to digest all that building data.  However, the fact alone that they had 30 million activations in the past year has to give anyone in this space pause, then again it’s free, but free works for market penetration. And honestly isn’t the end game to get a project into your ecosphere and manage it from design to demolition, from cradle to grave and Trimble is starting to put together a pretty compelling environment.  Let’s take a look shall we:

Accubid – Cost Estimating Project Management Software : CAD based or screen take offs (acquired by Trimble August 2010)

HHK –  GIS and CAD Surveying Solutions For Germany and Europe. (acquired by Trimble January 2008)

Meridian – Capital Projects and Major Renovation Management Software (acquired by Trimble October 2006)

Plancal -HVAC , Building equipment and Appliance Software  (acquired by Trimble January 2012)

QuickPen –  Provides Pipe and HVAC Estimating Software Solutions, CAD Detailing Solutions for HVAC and Mechanical Systems (acquired by Trimble March 2009)

Tekla – Building Information Modeling (BIM) Solutions (acquired by Trimble

Trimble Business Center – Allows you to edit, process, and adjust data from all Trimble surveying instruments from your desktop

Trimble Connected Community– Web based project management, let’s just call it the “Cloud” based management, at least they should.

So what’s all this  Vertical Integration mean? Well Rockefeller or Carnegie would argue it creates efficiencies in the market place, offering you a better product for less money. However, I am more curious to how Autodesk responds.  They could argue that Trimble is not a threat because they “Autodesk” are a 3D company, not just focused on AEC.  It reminds me of quote from Bob Rosenberg, former CEO of Dunkin Donuts when asked about Krispy Kreme’s rise.  This was at a time when Krispy Kreme was hot and expanding everywhere.  CEO Rosenberg responded, “we don’t see them as a competitor.”  To which you might say, are you kidding me, “DONUTS”, but he followed with “we’re a coffee company they’re a bakery.”  And you know what, he was right, but we’re talking about the ownership of buildings in the digital domain, that’s big.

So we see a hardware company, Trimble, acquiring a lot of software.  Would Autodesk start to acquire hardware.  Although back in the day one of their product managers told me, “we don’t do hardware.”   I expect to see more acquistions down the road.  FARO, a publicly traded company at about $1 billion could be interesting.  Where are the gaps in the portfolio?  What’s next?




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Exchange BIM : Bid and Win : Autodesk giving it away : Adword model coming to BIM?

Okay so this might be premature but read today under Autodesk Broadens its Reach in the Wall Street Journal about how Autodesk is creating and marketing consumer products, where it currently holds no cache.  Mention Autodesk to people outside of the AEC industry and they look at you much like a dog who’s heard a high pitch whistle.  Autodesk created Sketchbook for the ipad and iphone.  They also released Homestyler, which is free.  The most expensive version of Sketchbook goes for $7.99.   Now if you are not selling stuff to make money, how else can you do it?  Let’s look at the popular models –  you are a lead generation tool, allow advertising or create a marketplace and you take the vig on the transaction.  If I am one, if not the biggest purveyor of 2D CAD and 3D Modeling Software I have an opportunity, an opportunity to hook into software that was not available when it was just 2D lines, but 3D objects, let’s think about it.  One of the D’s, ‘Cost’, how is that driven through the system, well, mostly by quantity take offs, and creating a liquid marketplace that allows the quantity take offs, or actual fabrication to be bid on creates transparency/liquidity.  Allowing for brand name components to be swapped into a building model, making it more of a building information model, allows it to be spec’d during the design phase, what’s that worth as a vendor?  Even Microsoft is getting in on this with their release of Microsoft Hohm, energy data based on location, tax, records, etc.  When looking at specific retrofits there is a frame with ‘local professionals.’  Cannot be long until they are offering branded insulation, (owens corning) , and Energy Star appliances.

The building model becomes the grocery store and there are slotting fees, fees to put your product on the end cap, fees to put it on a particular shelf, etc.  So fees, hmmn, to have a certain level of prominence in the marketplace, sound familiar? Google’s Adwords.  Understand that the supermarkets were there first and are most excellent at retail, and the companies involved in selling through supermarkets, are also most excellent in, well, marketing, think P&G.  Homestyler, allows you to choose between “20,000+ generic and branded items”, cue branded items, and right from the web site:

Autodesk Homestyler automatically compiles a list of the products in your new home design, including information such as brand name, model, color, and more. It tallies approximate quantities for counter-tops, flooring, baseboards, and paint, so you’ll know exactly the amount of materials to buy. Simply print your list and bring it with you when you head out to shop.

Dupont (counter-tops), Sherwin Williams (Paint), Dacor (Appliances) , FLOR (Carpeting) are already prominently featured.

Now this seems awfully like the tip of the spear, before Autodesk partners with a major shopping site, Sears? / Amazon? for fulfillment and to get appliances etc.  into your house.  And if you were Sears what would you pay to be the partner or get slotted to be top dog in this universe.  Autodesk has stated that they want to get over 50 million customers in 2 years, if you are essentially giving away the software, what’s the point?  Well, guess what, besides having a kid, the #1 reason for you to go on a spending binge is buying a new house, or conversely redesigning your existing one and for the marketing savvy folks being first in is a big deal as they can shape and form your opinions.  Start thinking of the Autodesk Seek Website as the market or Google’s 3D Warehouse.

While we can argue the big brotherly approach of all this, in truth, if you have gone to the trouble of designing your own kitchen, this integration of design/shop/fulfillment can be a blessing instead of plugging in a generic cook top, wondering if the dimensions are right, wondering what the warranty info is, you could have right there, good right?  Scary that the whole world knows you own 6 Burner Jenn Air Cook Top?  Well you can decide for yourself.  But this type of integration is coming and with it, standard marketing practices that have been around for a long time, tracking purchases? who do you think was there first with loyalty cards, most likely your local grocery store, and don’t think they did not turn around and sell that information.  Just know it exists and enjoy the abundance of free software that’s around that can make your life easier, also know that someone somewhere is paying for it.


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Pointools plugs in SketchUp : Use Point Clouds directly inside SketchUp Modeling Environment : BIM

Interestingly enough, while at Autodesk University, Pointools announced their plug in available for SketchUp.  Make the jump to read all about it, but I guess with this announcement maybe the next thing we’ll see is the Google car with a scanner on top instead of just a camera.  Google and Autodesk are now squarely in the same ring.


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On the heels of BIM lag in Europe Report : UK Construction Chief calls for BIM

As reported by Stephen Kennett in this  article at Building.Co. UK,  “Paul Morrell, the government’s chief construction adviser, has indicated that publically procured building projects will be required to adopt building information modelling.” I have included the majority of the article as it is quick read.

The concept behind building information modelling or BIM is that everyone on the project shares the same 3D CAD model to design, build and, ultimately, run the building.

Speaking at the Autodesk BIM conference, Morrell said the move follows government research that concludes that BIM offers tangible benefits to the construction industry supply chain, and value for money to the taxpayer.

He said: “We have commissioned a team drawn from BIM users across the industry, both clients and suppliers, and software developers, to prepare a route map that shows how we can make a progressive move to the routine use of BIM. I am convinced that this is the way to unlock new ways of working that will reduce cost and add long-term value to the development and management of built assets in the public sector”.

He added that the move needs to be made on a basis that is secure, that works for government clients and those who deliver services to them, and which draws on proven means of integrating the supply chain.

The report will be released in March next year. Morrell says he “hopes and believes” it will mark the beginning of a commitment to a timed programme of transformation”.

Phil Bernstein, vice-president of Autodesk who produce a range of BIM based design tools, said the announcement was a positive step and could mark a game changer in the uptake of the technology in the UK.

“We believe that yesterday’s recommendation to UK government construction procurers will drive industry change, just as similar decisions by the government have in the US”.

However, he added that he doesn’t think the UK market is prepared for the wholesale uptake of BIM. “If this was to be adopted in the next six months then there wouldn’t be enough BIM capable practitioners to do what is being talked about however, by creating a set of requirements that will allow the UK market to adjust itself accordingly, will help greatly. A lot of practitioners can spend the next year getting ready for the change”.

Bernstein predicts that the uptake of BIM on public projects will be mirrored in the private sector.

The US through the GSA requires BIM, so that’s US Federal,  states have started requiring BIM for public projects, Universities, and now the UK is on board.  How BIM will be defined will be up to the lobbyists and mind share and quick search using Google Trends between Revit, Archicad, Microstation, Vectorworks, has Revit outpacing.  However, add SketchUp to the mix and it dwarfs all the others.  So A)  The BIM train is coming and B) BIM enthusiasts mock SketchUp at your peril.


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The Building IS the operating system : BIM – SketchUp – Revit Free?

If you free it, they will come.  Hasn’t that been proven many times over in the software world?  Not always the most viable business model, but sure to gain traction and then we can figure out the revenue streams, or the revenue streams will figure themselves out as we get volume.  If the majority of what you do on the web is surfing and e-mailing, the software you use is free.  If you are composing spreadsheets and documents using google docs and/or Open Office it is free.  It’s really the value you imbue these documents with that have value and people are starting pay for.  Your the NYTimes and your content is important to people, you sell ads.  Your facebook, well it will be ads again, or maybe facebook gets a cut from all the digital nothingness people buy in the form of cyber poker chips and farm tools from Zynga but I’m getting off point.

Think of the building, or the digital manifestation of the building as the operating system, the OS.  Now I want to run an energy analysis on the building, heating and cooling loads, solar analysis, or I want to do a cost analysis on sustainable retrofits, or even new construction.  It can all start with generic structure or masses, that is I have generic mass of blocks and objects, it’s when it has to be put into context that it needs to be defined.  From this is a wall, and this is a window, to this is a steel stud wall with 3/8″ gyp on each side, and this is a window with triple pane low-e glass, etc.  It depends on what you need it for that it needs to be defined, energy analysis you want the R values, cost analysis for construction, types, and even then you may not want to populate that whole model with those defined types because it gets huge and you might not need it.

For all the different people who interface with the building the idea of a centralized model is an awesome thing, and it has been the idea of BIM that has brought this forward.  However, think of having the BIM in the cloud, and now it becomes the OS and I want to build applications for it.  Energy Analysis, Cost Analysis, Maintenance Contracts, Build Outs, etc. etc. it opens the building to the market.  And if it can start as generic components and then people pick and choose what type of data and services they want to use to add value well it starts to sound like the iphone and the app store, or android and the app store, or facebook with Zynga, etc. that is free at first but customers willing to pay for the things that give them value.  We can all argue the benefits of why having a BIM of your building allows you to manage what may be your biggest asset more efficiently and save money, energy, etc. however, combine those things with free, well that’s where SketchUp is bringing us, the free building OS, and we’re all going to be playing in the app store.


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SketchUp IES Build Partnership : Energy Analysis : Building Performance : Simple BIM? : SketchUp Wins?

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) recently formalized a partnership or made it more formal, actual details seem fuzzy even after reading the press release, sort of like IES and SketchUp agree to continue to working together.  IES and EcoTect (now part of Autodesk) have been two of the longest standing players in the digital building analysis arena and what makes this really interesting to me is that SketchUp continues to gain traction. Users and developers are flocking to SketchUp and part of that is the magnetic power of google but also a fact is that I have architects say to me that they never used CAD in their life but now they use Sketch Up.  It could be part of a larger migration to use SketchUp on the design end of the process.  I can hear BIM purists, Revit Snobs and CAD managers groan and start cursing me already but hold and consider this.

  • Many GCs are already building their own BIMs for projects as they have the ultimate responsibility.
  • Architects are the first to admit they are designers and artists why not let them express themselves with the most intuitive tool.
  • Architects want to manage the BIM process as much as they want paper cuts filled with lemon juice.

Have the architects design the project and then consult with the building of the BIM when the GCs put it together using their design as the template.  The rise of virtual construction departments within the GCs themselves are well positioned for this transition and are already doing it for the most part.  Why have an architectural BIM that might not be used for construction.  If you can go through an iterative design process with SketchUP, utilize building performance tools from IES and then were just waiting for option analysis, rough quantity takes offs from Sketch Up you have a powerful SimpleBIM tool  with a price point that is 10% that of the equivalent from Autodesk.  Not that we give up on Revit, ArchiCAD, Navisworks, etc for the heavy lifting and actual BIM and construction coordination, 4D, 5D etc. but until everyone works on the same platform, ask yourself what’s the best workflow, best use of resources, best use of funds I don’t think it starts with conceptual work in Revit.


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BIM : Explode Value Engineering : #BIM #AIA #Revit

I am not an architect, nor do I play one on tv I simply have a small company that surveys buildings. While that may not qualify me to design one I have had the benefit of being in hundreds of buildings, surveyed them, see how they were put together, and they functioned with people in them, so with this little bit of information I feel qualified on commenting on architecture in general. And before I start I want to say that I believe architecture has the ability to transform and inspire like few other arts or disciplines because I can walk by a statue without noticing it (which I hope I don’t but were all in a hurry sometimes) but tougher still to ignore the building you are entering, or working in or even passing by, however, with that said I am unfortunately underwhelmed by most buildings I’ve been in or pass by, or have worked in. Too often we exist in a world that is value engineered, that is something has been designed to be produced as inexpensively as possible. I understand that, less expensively built; more people can afford to purchase; we all win, fine. Good in cars and televisions, unfortunate in buildings. We live in a center core, curtain wall efficiency that drains most of the fun, awe and art straight out of a building. And if you are trying to do something inexpensive, yet impressive this too can be a daunting task. But there are examples, artchitect turning shipping containers into homes comes to mind, like Adam Kalkin, Another is a home we surveyed designed by Carl Koch as part of community on Snake Hill. Now personally I thought it was fantastically ugly from the outside, looked like a box, seemed kind of cheap but as I entered the house, which still had all its original materials and finishes I was amazed how everything made sense, nothing wasted, coherent, took advantage of passive solar while providing lots of light and a great view, lines were simple, I was impressed but again this happens so seldom.

However, I have hope more and more architects are designing in 3D, even Architects who never once fired up CAD are embracing SketchUp as way to think and communicate in 3D. BIM allows design to happen digitally and with true BIM packages allows analysis and fabrication to build a building more cost effectively and real ROI metrics for making choices. Now this could be used for good rather than evil by providing hard bids on designs that were thought to cost prohibitive before, or proving new designs digitally and communicating them to developers and owners in 3D convinces them of their merit. What I hope is that ‘value engineering’ ceases to be a proxy for taking all the fun out out of a building but instead becomes part of the process that brings 3D digital design and BIM into reality and physical structures that continue to awe and inspire.


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Sketch Up Goes BIM : #sketchup #bim

If you still look at sketch up as a designer tool, and scoff at its less than robust ‘data’, start rethinking.  The fact is google has an open app, and google is taking over the world, and they want ‘their’ data to go across as many platforms as possible and delivered to you in anyway possible.  So it is no surprise that more robust plug-ins are being offered.

Recently ecoscore card, annouunced:

…a technology platform that helps building product specifiers evaluate environmental attributes of products, today revealed the new ecoScorecard plug-in that works with Google SketchUp and provides a critical link between popular BIM (Building Information Modeling) tools and important environmental rating systems such as LEED…

There will be more.  Autodesk watch your back, BIM users rejoice



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