by Andy Davis
BIM Collaborate Pro
With the recent announcements surrounding Autodesk Construction Cloud and the inclusion of Autodesk Docs within the AEC Collection, now is a good time to look at using Plant 3D in a cloud collaboration environment.
Autodesk Construction Cloud provides a unified, cloud-based common data environment for managing and sharing data between all team members throughout the entire AEC project development lifecycle, from initial design through to operation.
Autodesk Docs provides the underpinning document management functionality to enable project members to share, manage and review their project documents in the cloud across a range of platforms and devices including desktop and mobile devices.
The release of Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro, formerly BIM 360 Design, brings a host of cloud collaboration capabilities to Revit, Civil 3D and Plant 3D including enhanced model coordination, clash detection and integrated issues management within a common data environment.
As a part of BIM Collaborate Pro, Collaboration for Plant 3D provides users with the ability to upload Plant 3D projects to the Autodesk Construction Cloud (ACC) to provide real-time, concurrent shared access for design team members and other project stakeholders across multiple offices and locations.
Plant Collaboration Project – The View from Plant 3D
A plant project that has been shared to the cloud is wholly stored within the ACC. Access to the project files is managed by the folder and file permissions within the ACC. The project database is stored in a SQL Server database in the ACC and is only accessible through the Plant 3D application.
Any Plant 3D user with a BIM Collaborate Pro license who has permission to access the collaboration project files in the ACC may work on the project, regardless of their location or local time zone.
The interface to Plant 3D collaboration projects is through the standard Plant 3D user interface. Drawing files are managed through the Project Manager window. A new Collaborate ribbon has been added to the UI with additional options added to the Project Manager window.
Collaboration project files are stored in the ACC but are downloaded into a local workspace on the user’s workstation to be edited locally. Updated files are then uploaded back into the ACC for storage. A Check-in/Check-out mechanism is used to control editing access and manage the upload/download procedure either through the ribbon or via the Project Manager.
A copy of the project database is maintained in the local workspace. Incremental changes are synchronised with the ACC through the Project Manager window during Check-in/Check-out.
The local workspace enables offline working without a live connection to the ACC. This is ideal for locations with a poor or intermittent internet connection, allowing the user to leverage the full power and performance of their workstation.
Automatic File Versioning
Each time a file is checked-in to the ACC, a new version of that file is created. Autodesk Docs provides a mechanism for viewing file history and comparing file versions in the cloud.
Versions of files are therefore easily tracked and managed.
Managed Access to Project Configuration
Since a collaboration project is stored wholly in the ACC, a user’s access to the project configuration files and pipe specs is controlled by their folder and file permissions within the ACC. File permissions may be user, company or role based. Therefore, a user with read-only access to the project folder will not be able to save changes to project setup.
Similarly, a user without write access to the Spec Sheets folder will not be able to update pipe specs.
Projects stored in the ACC are backed up automatically in the cloud. However, a manual backup of a project can be made through the Plant UI in the Project Manager window.
An exact standalone copy of the project is created on the user’s workstation.
The backup copy is a full working project. It may be used as a template for a new project or modified and then shared back to the ACC as a new project.