Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is Navisworks It?

Right now the interest that we are seeing in Navisworks has expanded exponentially. I attribute this to a handful of reasons. The Autodesk's Suites have increased the overall reach of Navisworks by putting licenses in the hands of Revit users at a fraction of the cost compared with purchasing completely separate packages of software.  Navisworks represents an extremely important platform for a BIM. We can now rely on the strengths of Navisworks as a near universal model aggregation tool, including integration of DWF or DWG sheet files. Navisworks can truly hold all 2D and 3D intelligent information and even "connect the dots" digitally between the different file formats of the same project. There is also several tiers of Navisworks that allow for the users that need to run and track clashes to have access to a deeper version of the software, and those that need to view and markup a free tool to do only that.

Get it? The Clash
Most new users want to use the Clash Detection tools inside of Navisworks Manage to collaborate digitally prior to construction. This, above all other functions, is the most valued of Navisworks and only available in the Manage version.  The Timeliner tool is a distant second in unique functions although, considering the improvements in 2013, it has the ability to pick up many construction simulation modelers looking to more seamlessly integrate data and geometry inside one comprehensive tool.  Plus, there are more applications that can tap the data into other formats (e.g. e-SPECS for Navisworks) for many different uses of the model. 

The backbone of the solution is the bevvy  of formats that read well into Navisworks. Keep in mind: geometry fidelity and the quality, organization and consistency of data inside of the geometry can make the difference between a easy integration or a process that is much more manual. Simply put, it all depends on what you put in and what you are asking it to do. Just because you can doesn't necessarily mean it is worthwhile to do. Pick your battles. There are also security features to Navisworks files that protect intellectual property and can serve as reliable record copies.

The simple tools for complex projects  that Navisworks packs, as well as the increased saturation in the AEC market, creates a real need in the industry to know the simple strategies to get the most out of the tool. This usually comes in the form of simple tips and ideas around setting up an iterative approach and generally getting your ducks in a row for digital coordination.

The point is Navisworks has the potential to be the platform for model aggregation for BIMs of all shapes and sizes, from all different locations. It has both a free solution, it has a comprehensive solution. 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D. Seriously. I remember the first time I told people that I work in software that goes to the 5th dimension they looked at me like I was an idiot. And while it is an overly clever way to say "time and data" on top of the 3D, it is true.  I would prepare for Navisworks to become a fixture in the digital design, construction, and facilities management practices for the foreseeable future.

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