5 Key Reasons
to Choose
AutoCAD 2016
for Construction
By Robert Green, Owner, Robert Green Consulting
5 Key Reasons to Choose AutoCAD 2016 for Construction
AutoCAD 2016 integrates with
Navisworks® & BIM 360™ Glue®.
AutoCAD 2016 supports high
productivity work methods.
TrustedDWG™ compliance, most
current version and stability.
Broad import/export/underlay
AutoCAD 2016 pays for itself.
As a consultant I work with a lot of construction
firms that want to understand what CAD tool will
best integrate with BIM methodologies that are
becoming more common in their projects yet give
them the best return on their software investment.
When speaking with senior staff members at these
companies I’m often asked a question like this:
“Should we spend the money on AutoCAD 2016 for
our CAD users or stick with an older version or one
of these free or low cost competitor programs we
see touted on the Internet?”
My answer has been and continues to be an
emphatic, “Go with AutoCAD!” My reasoning is
that AutoCAD makes better sense technically,
organizationally, and financially than the
competitor alternatives—yes, even the free ones.
Since I’m frequently challenged on how AutoCAD
can be better than something that’s low cost
or even “free” I’ve developed a list of reasons
why I recommend AutoCAD—and specifically
AutoCAD 2016—to my construction clients
(along with some diagnostic questions) I can
rattle off quickly.
Here are my top five.
1. AutoCAD 2016
integrates with Navisworks &
BIM 360 Glue.
So how can CAD and BIM geometry be bridged in construction
environments to maximize project productivity? By having the latest
Autodesk products that let your team work together across software
platforms throughout the duration of the project’s life cycle!
AutoCAD 2016’s new Coordination Model functionality allows AutoCAD
users to attach Navisworks and BIM 360 Glue models and work with
them directly—in the familiar AutoCAD environment—to avoid clashes
and conflicts that would otherwise be detected later in the design process.
And since Navisworks and BIM 360 Glue can work with so many different
types of model data AutoCAD can now do so as well. The Coordination
Model feature set provides real benefits to construction users:
• BIM data can be readily utilized by AutoCAD 2016 users
• Diverse data sets can be managed by AutoCAD 2016 users
• Conflict avoidance can be leveraged by AutoCAD 2016 users
And with AutoCAD 2016’s Autodesk Application Manager, you will now
see a notification for Coordination Model Osnap support—much like an
XREF notification. This allows you to snap to objects in the BIM 360 Glue or
Navisworks model, from the previous day as opposed to weeks or months
old. Coordination Model Osnap support gives your team the ability to easily
work with the latest geometry to reduce the possibility of conflicts.
If you use something other than AutoCAD 2016 in your BIM/
CAD construction environment you’ll be missing out on these key
productivity features that extend BIM benefits to CAD users.
How much time do you spend dealing with coordination issues
such as interferences that are inadvertently introduced due to
CAD users not working with BIM data? How much time could
you save if all your CAD users could work in a coordinated work
environment with BIM and other model data directly in their CAD
tool? How much will you have to spend using a non-AutoCAD tool
to coordinate CAD data with your models?
2. AutoCAD 2016 supports high productivity work methods.
Over the years AutoCAD has devised many highly productive
new features. Some of the productivity enhancing work
processes supported by AutoCAD 2016 include:
Advanced Visualization – Anti-aliasing, graphics processor
unit (GPU) optimization and image based lighting environments
make viewing experiences crisper, faster and easier from 2D
line work to 3D visual styles to rendering capture.
Coordination Model Support – Allows AutoCAD users to
use BIM/3D information from BIM 360 Glue and Navisworks.
Enhanced PDF File Generation – Creating multiple PDF files
for construction document sets is faster and the file sizes more
compact than ever. All text in the pdf is now searchable. Drawing
and web hyperlinks in the DWG™ file stay intact in the PDF.
Sheet Set Manager (SSM) – Typically docked to the left of
the screen, the SSM allows a selection of drawings/sheets to
be organized just like a multi discipline design package is in
an engineering office. The SSM isn’t widely used but those
companies that do use it find their construction users love it
because it feels just like working with a set of construction
documents (CD’s).
Snapable/Viewable Point Clouds – Working with field scanned
data is made much easier with color visualization and selectable
features which make point clouds seem much like native AutoCAD
geometry. AutoCAD 2016 now also has the ability to extract 2D
drawings from the 3D point clouds.
Tool palettes – Floating on the desktop wherever the user likes, these
palettes allow multiple pieces of content like blocks, tables, etc., to be
visually represented in an easy-to-use drag and drop visual interface.
Revision Clouds and Smart Dimensioning – Revision clouds are
much easier to work with in AutoCAD 2016 and the ability to see
dimensional previews by simply hovering over graphical objects takes
the guesswork out of annotating geometry.
What would it cost to create equivalent workaround methods
in another program? How much would it cost to deploy those
solutions? How much productivity would you leave on the table by
ignoring these features?
3. TrustedDWG compliance, most current
version and stability.
If you’ve ever tried to import a file from another program only to
experience a crash, you know how much time and effort it can take
to resolve the problem. Since time is money, it becomes obvious how
much money could be lost dealing with file interoperability issues from
low cost/free programs like these:
•Not being able to read the latest DWG format.
•Not being able to import/export other industry standard formats.
•Not being able to open files with complex entities (like BIM 360 Glue
geometry or Navisworks…) authored by other Autodesk software.
Since AutoCAD is produced by Autodesk, it creates files with
TrustedDWG technology to ensure compatibility with the newest
versions of other Autodesk DWG based tools as well as cloud based
utilities and construction solutions.
It is highly unlikely that Autodesk will go out of business and stop
supporting AutoCAD’s TrustedDWG format next year - can you say
that about a low cost/free program?
4. Broad import/export/
underlay options.
More and more CAD users aren’t just producing standalone
drawing files; they are importing, underlaying or exporting other
data formats as part of a diverse digital design environment. For
example, you can underlay and snap to 2D geometry stored in
DWF, DWFx, DGN, and PDF files. You can think of an underlay like
an attached image from another CAD program you can draw over,
object snap to or visually clip with a viewport.
With AutoCAD these tasks are no problem since the program has
been specifically designed and tested to work with a variety of
files from a variety of popular software vendors—including other
Autodesk tools. These types of specific file import, export and
underlay operations can either be absent or poorly executed in low
cost or free products based on my past evaluations.
AutoCAD 2016 has also added support for attaching coordination
models to a drawing. You can use these models for virtual
coordination of various trades from pre-construction through
construction. The ability to attach Navisworks files to your
AutoCAD drawings allows you to reference data from a variety of
software sources as you create, view, and edit AutoCAD drawings
within the context of the model. This workflow enables project
teams to manage coordination before the clash occurs, true ‘clash
avoidance’. This new integration between the Navisworks 2016
update and AutoCAD enables project collaboration that simply isn’t
otherwise available.
What would the absence of these options mean in your typical
project workflows? How much time might you spend finding the
right drivers and conversion utilities to deal with these types of
shortcomings in another program? Are you willing to live with
limited abilities just so you can skip upgrading?
5. AutoCAD 2016 pays for itself.
Using a little back of the envelope accounting we can do a rough
calculation to demonstrate that AutoCAD can actually cost less than
the free programs you may have seen. To do the math, we’ll use the
following hypothetical numbers:
Annual cost of AutoCAD maintenance per user: $545
(Autodesk’s suggested retail price based on perpetual license)
Full labor cost of AutoCAD user: $40/hr
Now consider the following time estimates for dealing with alternative
work methods you may have to use with any other program. Note:
For each task a number of hours per user per year is included in
•Manual procedures for PDF and CD set compiling (24 hours)
•Workaround procedures to import/export from/to other software
(4 hours)
•Workaround procedures for BIM integration (12 hours)
•Rework due to interferences not found in CAD (12 hours)
•CAD administrator time to resolve above issues (4 hours)
Total cost = 56 hrs/user/year * $40/hr = $2240 per user per year
ROI = ( $2240/$545 ) * 100% = 411%
My own experience has lead me to believe that the 56 hours per
year (less than 5 hours per month) per user outlined above is a very
conservative estimate of the time a construction firm spends dealing
with BIM integration, interference resolution, and CD package
preparation. Your average numbers may vary but the methodology
remains the same.
How much cost savings are you willing to give up because a $545
subscription is too expensive?
I’ve seen lots of construction companies try to use programs other than AutoCAD in
years past and the outcomes have always been the same: Glitches, disappointments,
implementation problems and eventual lack of support. I’ve talked with management teams
who’ve regretted not upgrading their software to “save money” only to discover the missed
opportunities of using the advanced features that AutoCAD has to offer.
There’s an old adage that says “you get what you pay for” but in the case of AutoCAD 2016
you may actually get more by streamlining your workflows using powerful new features.
Before your company makes a decision on what program to use for your casual 2D CAD
users at least go through the diagnostic questions in this piece and tally up how much you’ll
spend to support a low cost or even free product. You may find that using AutoCAD 2016
helps save you money.
About Robert Green
Since 1991, Robert Green has provided CAD management consulting, programming,
training, and technical writing services for clients throughout the United States, Canada, and
Europe. A mechanical engineer by training, Robert has used many popular CAD tools in a
variety of engineering environments since 1985. Robert has acquired his expertise in CAD
management via real-world experience as the “alpha CAD user” everywhere he has worked.
Over time he has come to enjoy the technological and training challenges associated
with CAD management, and he now trains CAD managers via public speaking. Robert is
well known for his insightful articles in Cadalyst magazine and for his book, Expert CAD
Management: The Complete Guide (published by Sybex). When he’s not writing, Robert
heads his own consulting practice, Robert Green Consulting, based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Autodesk, the Autodesk logo, AutoCAD, Navisworks and BIM 360 Glue are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other
countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Autodesk reserves the right to alter product and services offerings, and specifications and
pricing at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this document. © 2015 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.
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