Contractors were this week urged to exploit the power offered by cloud computing to revolutionise the way they manage their construction projects.
Software giant Autodesk said this week that contractors have the most to gain from the technology, which harnesses the computing power of remote servers, because of their predominantly site-based workforce.
The engineering sector has been a slow adopter of cloud technology, largely because of fears over security, reliability and download speeds.
But Autodesk senior vice president for information modelling products Amar Hanspal said he believed the time was now right for the industry to take a leap forward with cloud computing in the same way it has with Building Information Modelling (BIM).
“It feels like the right place and the right time,” he said. “There is no doubt that construction is the biggest opportunity for the cloud.
“Around 75% of contractor staff work at the jobsite and the only electronic tool they have ever had is a cell phone.
“With the cloud we can reach them through those cell phones; we are building software that can deliver the drawings, the models, the construction instructions.
“They don’t realise they are touching the cloud. But that’s what the cloud can do - give them the tools.”
Autodesk has a clear vested interest in driving adoption of cloud technology, having released its cloud offering last year as Autodesk 360.
But senior vice president, industry strategy Andrew Anagnost said that take-up outside the construction sector proves the value of it. Since launch 15M users have accessed Autodesk’s cloud services, with around 1M new users added each month.
“We are making sure our customers are doing things they couldn’t do before and usage tells us that they like it,” said Anagnost. “But whether or not the cloud is transformative for you or your business depends on leadership,” he added.
Autodesk managers were speaking as chief executive Carl Bass launched an “aggressive” assault on the global infrastructure market at its annual convention in Las Vegas.
Dubbed Project Mercury, the firm’s strategy is to use cloud technology to accelerate the industry’s adoption of BIM for infrastructure.
“Project Mercury is powered by industry-leading mobile and cloud-based technology for design and engineering. It is a significant generational step forward compared to legacy competitive solutions, and with its ability to manage large datasets and aggregate a broad range of formats, it will open the entire process to a broader set of stakeholders,” said Hanspal.
At the event Autodesk previewed a beta version of a cloud-based road optimisation service for Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler software to showcase what the cloud is capable of.
The first in a series of cloudbased services the company plans to deliver as part of Project Mercury, it allows designers to carry out route optimisation calculations over kilometres of highway at a time rather than having to break the road up into 1km chunks.