Autodesk has continued the evolution of its plant design product line that combines core products with newer 3D and data tracking software. Autodesk’s Plant Design Suite 2011 includes AutoCAD 2011, AutoCAD P&ID 2011, AutoCAD Plant 3D 2011, and Autodesk Navisworks 2011 software.
Autodesk Vice President for Plant Solutions, Mark Strassman says “With very attractive pricing and built-in utilities to migrate legacy specs and catalogs, we have made it easier for users of AutoCAD-based plant packages to make the switch to Autodesk.” Yes, that probably does mean Bentley’s AutoPlant, among others.
Currently, AutoCAD is used for general design, layout, plot plans, and document generation. Many people working in plant design have been content to work with 2D plans. However, Autodesk has increased the functionality of AutoCAD with support for point cloud data—up to 2 billion points. Scanning is increasingly being used in plants, because it enables customers to scan facilities to see what they’ve got along with what they have planned. In addition, AutoCAD P&ID is an add-on product customized for piping applications. AutoCAD Plant 3D is Autodesk’s specialized product for 3D plant design. The latest version of AutoCAD Plant 3D includes a new spec conversion utility, improved routing tools, a new piping catalog editor and enhanced parts catalogs and libraries.
Navisworks 2011 is the key technology that brings it all together. Navisworks enables customers to bring together data from a variety of sources into one environment in order to see the whole complicated, orderly, mess that can be plant design and it enables clash detection and 3D project review. It enables users to fly through a project that combines information from everyone on a project even if that information was created in another software package.
Autodesk Plant Design Suite 2011 ships in two editions: Autodesk Plant Design Suite 2011 Premium and Autodesk Plant Design Suite 2011 Advanced. Trial versions of AutoCAD Plant 3D, AutoCAD P&ID 2011, and Navisworks Manage are available at http://www.autodesk.com/plantdesignsuite.
Navisworks is a key technology for Autodesk with applications beyond plant design but, crucially, Navisworks gives Autodesk technology to push its tools for plant design into the 21st century. Just as important, Navisworks is a trojan horse in use in facilities that don’t use Autodesk’s other CAD products. Rather, they might be using products from Bentley, Intergraph, or AVEVA. And, Navisworks’ functionality with Revit as well as AutoCAD gives Autodesk’s users options that keeps them in the family. Navisworks competes with Bentley’s Navigator tools. The edge will go to the company with the best integration between all the different products being used in huge process and power and marine applications.
Plant design has shown more resistance to the recession than other segments of the architectural design and construction industry and there is interesting innovation going on. Most notably in the area of multi-CAD applications as well as scanning and information management. Some of the techniques being pioneered in plant design will work their way into the general construction industry as well.