Innovation Takeaways from the 2017 AutoDesk University

By Benjamin Wetzel, Architectural Technician, Retail Design Division

On the theme of “The Future of Making Things,” this year’s AutoDesk University focused on cutting edge solutions through automation for some 10,000 industry leaders who convened in Las Vegas. One of the most fascinating takeaways for me was how automation will shape our future. I don’t mean a fear of robots replacing jobs, but rather the nature of the work we do. History teaches that each era of automation advancement leads to more efficient ways of doing things. Instead of removing jobs, automation creates more new jobs.

One example is a construction company in the Netherlands, Van WIjnen. The company completely re-thought the way buildings are designed and built. Using the modular concept with housing, Van WIjnen made hundreds of individual parts of a building that can be manufactured inside just like an assembly line to build each wall, gable and roof, while still allowing each customer to freely customize their home layout even after the building has been built. In Van WIjnen’s case, it reduced the construction timeline from eight months to three.

How could we rethink our process like this to benefit LDG retail design clients? With similar building models, could a client partner with a construction company to begin building modular retail stores instead of building onsite? Assembly would reduce the time, construction cost, change orders, and improve accuracy.

Autodesk University is not just a conference of architects and engineers. It encompassed manufacturers, designers, infrastructure, media, and entertainment. Class content that appealed to me included software platforms that will help improve efficiencies and processes. Other course material focused on new tools and techniques that will reshape how we provide our services.

Global Parameters in Revit. This class showed me how to use the Revit® software more efficiently. They taught me how to create individual families that automatically adjust to each project’s specific site conditions without having to manually fix them. This has the capability of saving us time, reduce our costs, and improve accuracy for the client.

Smarter MEP Families and Workflows via Revit and Dynamo®: This class opened my eyes to the possibilities of a popular software “Dynamo.” The software is capable of automating the design process for mechanical and electrical. From populating mechanical schedules to sizing electrical equipment and wiring,  it could free up our teams to focus on more important tasks and deliver quality work to our clients.

Training. In terms of training, what more can we do to enhance everyone’s continuous learning at LDG? There are numerous resources for education and training, which helps keep LDG as the tip of the spear in the industry.

LDG’s Retail Design Division serves nationally known clients including, among others, Tuesday Morning, CVS, Party City and Dollar Tree/Family Dollar. 

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