Autodesk and closing the AECOM feedback loop: why it matters


PLUS TT THIS FALL, AUTODESK made a significant strategic investment to close the feedback loop in the world of AEC. This “loop”, as it is commonly referred to in the building industry, is the feedback loop of data that goes from design to operation and maintenance and back again, informing the design.

The industry acronym AECOM (not as common as AEC) in some ways sums up this, although the “M” can also stand for management. Architosh had the opportunity to speak to Nicolas Mangon, Vice President, AEC Strategy, Autodesk, about his investments in iOFFICE + SpaceIQ, to understand what all this means for Autodesk and its ability to close the loop in AECOM for its customers. .

Close the loop 20 years later

“You know, when we started with BIM, it was 20 years ago here at Waltham,” Mangon explains of the company’s history with Revit. “It started with architecture, then we moved on to structural engineers and MEP. Over the past half-decade, the US-based design software company has gone on to deliver software to construction professionals as it successfully serves all constituents of the AECOM industry.

What you’ll see in a complex building like a hospital is that 70-80% of the total cost of ownership is in the operating phase, over a typical 20-year period.

“At the time, with people like Phil Bernstein, we were talking about integrating BIM into construction and facilities, that was 20 years ago,” he adds before acknowledging that the BIM transition in the construction industry has taken longer than imagined. But Mangon is enthusiastic in our conversation, noting that this latest investment is one of Autodesk’s first and latest initiatives to reach out to O&M professionals and building owners.

Autodesk Tandem is the company’s flagship digital twin platform, but connects data to other post-construction tools. The company intends that Tandem is the “digital transfer” which corresponds to the “physical transfer” that an entrepreneur delivers to an owner. (Image: Autodesk)

This latest round of investments combines with Autodesk Tandem, the company’s “digital twins” platform, and recent acquisitions like Spacemaker and Innovyze. “What you’re starting to see is that we’re more involved in post-construction,” he says. “What you will see in a complex building like a hospital is that 70 to 80% of the total cost of ownership is in the operational phase, over a typical 20 year period. So there is a lot of value that can be created in post-construction.

Beyond Predicting Failure

The AECOM industry is currently looking for new technology solutions that leverage not only shared data, to eliminate data replication and data silos, but also access to the right data. On the operations side, owners find great value in being able to predict failures in the many building systems of their real estate assets.

Today’s IoT sensors feed continuous data flows into computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software. This is one aspect of Innovyze’s water plant infrastructure software where system downtime can be financially disadvantageous for owner-operators. Yet Mangon says much more can be done than data from sensors for operations.

Back then, with people like Phil Bernstein, we were talking about applying BIM to construction and facilities – that was 20 years ago …

He points out that the vast majority of buildings in operation today, even those with LEED AP Platinum certifications, we don’t know how things go. “Does this thing work as it was designed?” He asks rhetorically. “I think we don’t know.”

Connecting building systems to IoT sensors and that data to CAFM software is the lowest fruit to come full circle in AECOM in the age of digital twins. The industry can go far beyond predicting failure.

Autodesk wants to drive this loop of data for years across hundreds of thousands of buildings and infrastructure, then use AI-powered design tools like Spacemaker to help asset owners make smart decisions early on. pre-design planning steps for capital expenditures.

Autodesk Spacemaker

Today, Spacemaker works largely with data on its physical context and climate. Going forward, data from digital identical twins will feed Spacemaker where AI will use it to help generate smarter solutions that combine with AI-powered solutions on a building’s site and climate.

“Today, Spacemaker uses data about its physical environment and climate,” he notes. “What we don’t take into account is past experience.” Spacemaker, which Architosh has written in detail, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate design options around design input criteria. (see: Architosh, “INSIDER: The Fourth Revolution — How Spacemaker AI Optimizes Architecture Development”, July 26, 2021)

In the near future, Autodesk might be able to tap into the data connections for many hospitals in a particular region and integrate that data into a tool like Spacemaker. Once inside Spacemaker, this data will be translated into rich information useful for designing better and more efficient hospitals.

Tools for Homeowners

“Efficient buildings” is a broad term. Mangon admits that it can mean a lot of things – from the way a building works for social distancing during a global pandemic like the one we are currently facing; how a building encourages creative interaction, like the way Steve Jobs envisioned the circular Apple campus building by Foster + Partners; how satisfied Millennials are with their workspaces.

“These days, Millennials are thinking about the spaces they work in and whether they are good for the environment. Everything happens on social networks, ”he says. “So landlords want to look at some of the satisfaction trends and help predict if people are going to renew their leases. Mangon says this kind of data is the kind of data that SpaceIO and iOFFICE can collect, and it helps building owners know whether to renovate, demolish the space, or buy the next building two blocks away and do the same thing.

Digital Twin technology with SpaceIQ and Revit

Autodesk Revit and a connection to a SpaceIQ application running on an iPhone. (Image: Autodesk)

iOFFICE + SpaceIQ (merged companies from this year) offer building owners tools that span the gamut from ‘workplace’ or employee experience, to facilities management, to property management software systems . With more than 10,000 customers worldwide, the two companies combined have millions of data points that can be used as a starting point for how Autodesk can strategically align data with their pre-design and digital twin software systems.

“There is already some data integration today,” Mangon explains, “but it’s mostly moving from design and construction to this space. Most of the time, these are 2D drawings or textual data. It adds value, but it only scratches the surface of what can be done.

Digital twins

As we examine how “closing the loop” means taking O&M data and generating rich information that can inform decision-making, Mangon says that for Autodesk, the core technology is digital twins. And the technology platform of their digital twins is Autodesk Tandem.

“Historically, we’ve created tools for architects, designers, and engineers, like AutoCAD, Revit, and Civil3D,” he says. “Then we put tools for construction companies on the market. However, Tandem was built for owners. We had never built a tool for owners from the owner’s point of view.

They don’t care about conflict detection or on-site logistics. So they need a tool for them.

He explains that one of the key things owners do is “capital planning,” and Spacemaker is in that area and helping to fulfill that function. He says homeowners during the capital planning phase want to interact with the architect and the construction company and get what they need, but they are struggling to get it. “They don’t care about conflict detection or on-site logistics. So they need a tool for them.

“So the goal is, just like a construction company provides a physical asset – Tandem provides a digital asset,” says Mangon. He notes that owners don’t embrace BIM more because they never get what they want. Tandem is designed to give them exactly what they want.

With Autodesk Tandem at the center of the owner-deliverable digital twin, Autodesk can now connect other software systems such as Innovyze, Spacemaker, and iOFFICE + SpaceIQ solutions, helping close the data loop in the lifecycle. design-build-operate.

The final goal

Nicolas Mangon ends the conversation by evoking different levels of digital maturity. On the owner side, the world’s most sophisticated owners, like Microsoft, are 100% BIM-centric with operations and maintenance. “That said, a large majority of the world continues to use 2D plan views in operations. So we can streamline this operation of getting data from Revit and AutoCAD into Tandem and tools like SpaceIQ, ”he said. “We need to have different stages for different people when we move clients from 2D to BIM and from BIM to the cloud. The end goal is to close the feedback loop, and there will be different ways to get there.