I have always pondered over the phrase “it’s the same but different,” until recently when Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro was launched. Living through a pandemic and reviewing our workflows to cater for home working, has resulted in a huge surge in the AEC industry to move our work into the ‘cloud’. That solution was Autodesk BIM 360 Design.Learn more
Symetri Ltd, part of the Addnode Group, joins forces with Excitech Ltd to form an international market-leading partner of software and services for the construction and manufacturing industries, writes David Chadwick.
This article was featured in the January/February 2021 issue of Construction Computing Magazine.
In another fresh start to 2021 we welcome the acquisition of a prominent UK company to form a new alliance and a merging of expertise that will bring impetus to the industry. Excitech, an Autodesk Platinum Partner with 3,500 customers and 150 staff, has been acquired by Addnode Group and, following a period of integration, has now become Symetri. While the name has changed, they will still be providing the same award-winning services to the construction industry as before, supporting their customers using a wide range of third-party software, supplemented by enabling applications developed by both Symetri and Excitech.
I spoke to David Hughes and Yvette Dainton at Symetri about the direction the company will be taking under the new ownership and what Symetri brings to the table. For the latter, rather a lot it seems, but that does not diminish the role that Excitech has played through its 35 years of service to the industry.
The success of Autodesk within the construction industry has long been supported by their outstanding partners, who help their clients implement its applications, guiding them through the specific range of tools that they need to run their practices and companies, and running training and other support services. In addition, Symetri has developed an additional range of applications that fill a number of gaps in the market, helping their customers become more productive, adhere to standards and automate a number of routine workflows.
Symetri is a European company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, with a strong presence in both the AEC (architecture, engineering & construction) and Manufacturing industries. In the UK more specifically, it has a large footprint of manufacturing customers and, prior to the Excitech acquisition, a smaller presence in AEC. Within the UK it acquired Cadassist in 2018, who many of you will remember, and which was regarded as a successful partner within the AEC space. The laudable aim of Symetri is to combine and leverage the knowledge and expertise of both companies in both manufacturing and construction industries. Symetri now supports more than 10,000 customers across the UK and Nordics.
WHAT WILL SYMETRI BRING TO THE PARTY?
As an already established partner in the UK, the additional expertise and knowledge the acquisition brings now makes Symetri a large customer-centric partner with much to offer. The sense I got was that this is a company focused on building a community of customers in the UK to share ideas and develop applications that solve long established problems for architects, engineers and manufacturing construction professionals. Two such solutions are Naviate and CQFlexMon.
We have previously covered solutions developed by Excitech, such as Excitech DOCS, Excitech Mail and Excitech CAD Checker. Symetri Europe, likewise, has developed a range of productivity tools under the Naviate banner covering architecture, engineering and construction. Naviate is a product portfolio for users of Revit and Civil 3D and helps customers maximise productivity and reduce risk through the cultivation of knowledge, workflow optimisation and business continuity.
Naviate compliments Autodesk solutions by helping its customers become more productive with both Revit and Civil 3D. It enables Symetri consultants to work together with their clients to fine tune their use of these applications, adhere to standards, and automate routine workflows. In fact, their range of products introduces some interesting modules alongside others that you would expect.
Naviate Architecture provides industry specific tools to help organise the documentation associated with a project and to optimise BIM working methods, with complementary tools for editing doors and windows, automatic room drawing creation, and a unique curtain grid designer, among others. Naviate's Simple BIM module can be implemented to allow users to share limited amounts of data using basic IFC and simple workflows. This probably illustrates the useful role that Symetri BIM consultants have in analysing a client's needs and tailoring a solution that matches those needs.
Naviate delves into other areas as well, and one I find particularly interesting is Naviate Daylight (mainly because I haven't come across this solution before). Daylight area ratio checking against a BIM model allows architects to optimise the design of indoor lighting, windows, and other areas to provide optimum occupational comfort for future inhabitants.
Naviate Site & Landscaping does for landscaping projects what Naviate Architecture does for architects, namely automating and accelerating document production using built-in standards for landscape designers, architects, and engineers.
Naviate Structure provides a range of tools that aid in steel reinforcement and pile cap detailing and modelling. Coupled with the free Naviate Rebar Extension application, which offers a multitude of tools for automatic rebar generation based on configured settings, the Structure offering is quite compelling.
CQFlexMon helps Symetri customers monitor and analyse the usage of Autodesk network licences, and with Autodesk's Transition to Named User programme underway, could be a useful solution to provide a clear picture of how a business currently utilises networked licences, and to help determine actual user need. Additional modules include Application Usage, which allows monitoring of the actual usage of all software installed, and Licence Debit, to help calculate the costs accrued from the usage of licences.
DYNAMO AND DYNAMO STUDIO
Whilst Naviate provides a range of pre-configured tools to achieve common tasks, there will always be a need for project specific workflows for bespoke geometry and data manipulation. I am a big fan of conceptual design using algorithmic design tools, ever since the concept was introduced some years ago by Bentley with their GenerativeComponents and Smart Geometry conferences. With the transmigration of some early practitioners into the Autodesk world it was obvious that the technology would become more widespread, with different software developers taking up the challenge.
Dynamo is used to develop conceptual designs outside of Revit using unique workflows and algorithms to develop architectural concepts that can be tweaked or automated by modifying the underlying maths. Algorithmic scripts can be created to model almost any factor that conditions the design of a building, from environmental considerations to price of occupancy, and while the software may be 'untethered' from Revit, it still retains its BIM connectivity, enabling it to be incorporated within any 3D model.
Discussing the infinite possibilities of Dynamo led my conversation with David and Yvette into other areas of design and manufacturing and delivery, common to both industries. David pointed to the current trend towards off-site fabrication and modular building within the industry. "Symetri," he said, "with expertise in both areas, are now well placed to advise clients in both these and similar technologies with affinities to Autodesk's manufacturing tools - such as BIM 360."
With the acquisition of Excitech, Symetri now has 220 consultants and technical experts across the Nordics and the UK, with 23 regional offices offering consultancy and training, supported by more than 80 developers working on proprietary solutions like Naviate and Excitech DOCS. As well as retaining their prestigious status as an Autodesk Platinum Partner, the group has access to technologies from another 40 partners. In the UK, Symetri will retain Excitech's Enfield, Bishopsgate and Cambridge offices, in addition to its existing four offices across the country.
David added that customers should be assured that there will be no change to licences held, terms and training courses agreed, orders placed or being rolled out, or resources being implemented. He did say that there will be some new faces appearing, but to all intents and appearances it will be business as usual. Excitech DOCS and Mail will also retain their names. In the short-term, he added, emails to Excitech have been redirected to their Symetri equivalents, and the website has changed to symetri.co.uk.
After a challenging 2020 it is gratifying to see companies moving forward and strengthening their roles within their industries. I am keen to explore the tools Symetri has developed and can't wait to learn more about the Symetri Visualisation Table!
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