In this episode of the Smarter Building podcast, we caught up with Dr. Stephen Hamil, Innovation Director at NBS, to gain insights into the future landscape of the construction industry and the upcoming trends in 2024.
How times have changed - From Product discussions to Business value partnerships
Not so many years ago the conversations most of our clients wanted to have with us was about our products; what would Autodesk Vault give them, What is Inventor's iLogic functionality and how do we use it. Times seem to have changed! The conversation has changed! Certainly this is my personal take on it ... I thought I should put this disclaimer in.
Companies don't want just a CAD system or a PDM system, they want a solution to a problem. That problem is always the same; How do I make my processes leaner? This is what we've being doing for years; helping make companies design more efficiently by keeping the data more controlled, automating designs in inventor, training users in best practice and so on.
Since the global downturn a few years ago, and especially since the downturn in the oil and gas market last year, many companies are seeing that they need to move to the next step. Buying a product to do a job, like design in 3D, simply isn't a solution.
Companies realise they have a need to start looking at their processes and how these can be automated. Workflow bottlenecks are costing time and money and need to be streamlined and automated so they are as lean as possible.
This has in the past lead to head scratching ... The software might not do this out of the box, what do we do and how do we do this? This in the past has meant lots of custom programming or relying on 3rd party's to help. For Symetri's customers, this is where, the efforts have really paid off. Software wise Symetri now have a range of our own technology and additional tools to fill the gaps and enhance the functionality of the standard Autodesk software. We have our own PLM system to allow, not just the automation of design workflows, but the automation and control of information around the company. We have access to programmers that can help with design automation as well as providing the ability to create bespoke utilities. For Symetri, this change has meant a much greater level of confidence and expertise to investigate, map and automate a company's workflows to provide the solution to that problem; how can a company be leaner and gain competitive advantage.
I am continually astounded at the positive effect that making processes leaner has at companies. Not just at how much easier some tasks can become, but how this effects other areas of the business. The automation of documentation on release to a factory in every case immediately reduces wastage, reduces change requests, provides greater traceability of the design; and these are the benefits that can be measured.
How can you measure how much happier employees are that they can find the correct information faster and don't have to waste time asking the design staff for help. What benefit can that have for a company? You can not possibly automate a process if you have not documented what you are hoping to automate. You also don't know what truly needs automating, or what the solution will really be, until you look at what processes rely on this one and what this one relies on. eg, if I have a workflow defined by 3 process, A, B and C, and I'm looking to automate B, how can I do this without understanding, at the very least, the outputs of A and the requirements for C. It could be that B isn't needed and I can just go from A to C. It is this understanding and ability to investigate these processes that allows a solution to be fully formed.
For me, the days of companies wanting to just buy Inventor for 3D CAD or implementing Vault to store that data seams to be over ... These products are not a solution, but a tool, potentially one of many, that are used to provide that solution.
What is the solution then? Well, until processes are understood, there isn't one.
Start from analysing your current business processes
Many of our customers have started to identify challenge areas and enhancing their processes through an analysis to their existing Business Processes.