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Rewarding intuition

They liked using the product so much they became the agent. Lisa Russell reports on Waterman's decision to market an Australian ground modelling package in the UK.

Next month sees a new venture for consultant Waterman. The firm is teaming up with an Australian software company 4D Solutions to bring its ground modelling system to the UK and Eire.

Waterman director John Waiting says the firm was so impressed when it tried out the product itself that it decided to spread the word to others in the industry by becoming the sole agent for the UK and Eire. It will take up the agency from next month, marketing the software, known in Australia as 4D Model, as 12D. Demonstrations to other organisations have already begun.

Waterman, like many other consultants, employs a number of Australian CAD technicians. 'One of them asked if we had heard about 4D, and said it was very good and recommended we investigate it,' recalls Waiting.

A terrain modelling, surveying and civil engineering package, 12D can be used for projects such as road, channels, storage tanks, landscaping and rail studies. After seeing a demonstration, the firm immediately bought a copy to evaluate, and was given a couple of time limited trial copies.

'I was very impressed with the results,' says Waiting. 'It was very fast and efficient.' When the time limited trial copies expired, staff said that they couldn't work without it.

It was used both for ground modelling and road design 'and the more we use it, the more we find we can use it for'. It fits well with today's trend the idea of providing engineers and technicians with a 'toolbox' of software to do all their work whereas a few years ago, there would have been specialist packages and specialist technicians, he says.

The system has the potential to create more efficiency in civil engineering, Waterman believes. 'We had not been achieving the savings on the design side we had hoped,' adds director Alex Burton. This system - now being rolled out across Waterman - would lead to cost benefits and efficiencies in design, he believes.

'The main thing that struck us was the speed of operation and the intuitive nature of learning how to use it,' says associate director Richard Worrow. Tests were run against other packages; processing with 12D took only 30 seconds against a minimum of four minutes on others.

A number of different windows can be kept open all at once, says 4D Solutions applications consultant Anthony McLandsborough; perspective, sections, plans and so on which update automatically.

If a system is easy to get the hang of, it encourages people less familiar with IT systems to try it out to develop their intuitive ideas, suggests Burton. 'By producing results fast, you are not committed to a particular design too early, you can play around with ideas,' he adds.

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