When it comes to the importance of technology in the construction industry, the majority of people immediately assume that one’s talking about the construction equipment, improvements in PPE or construction material. However, what they often ignore is the fact that the majority of work starts in the planning stage, which usually implies the design of the construction in question. Here, the role and importance of adequate tool are unparalleled and there are many different fields where proper modeling and analysis could make all the difference. With that in mind and without further ado, here are several things you need to understand when choosing the best software for structural designing and analyzing.
1. Static analysis of the structure
The first step when it comes to the assessment of structure in the development process is its static analysis. What this means is the analysis of components caused by loads that do not induce significant inertia and damping effects. We’re mostly talking about factors like strains, displacements, stresses, etc. One of the most important things when it comes to structural designing and analyzing is how the model will behave in a real-life environment. This is why you need a software that allows inputs for wind and seismic loads, as well as one that’s able to generate stability checks for nonlinear load cases. This is not just important for the safety of the structure but also for the overall business efficiency of your organization.
2. 3D modeling
The issue of 3D modeling is the most definite must in 2019 for several reasons. In fact, there are a lot of people who believe 3D modeling to be the best thing that has happened to the construction industry in a long time. First of all, it gives designers more creative room to try out different solutions to the same problem and pick the best one. Second, the designs made this way are much easier to share, which helps in the decision making the process, as well as enhances the collaboration. Most importantly, it gives you a chance to experience the building long before the construction works actually begin.
3. Cloud-based tool
The next thing worth mentioning is the fact that the best structural design and analysis tools like Autodesk Fusion 360 are cloud-based is an enormous plus. This is mostly due to the fact that it allows for a greater level of collaboration and makes the end result more impressive. Even if there’s just one person working on the project, cloud-based software can allow one much greater flexibility of work, especially when it comes to the issue of off-site designing. Remember that BYOD (bring your own device) trend is getting more and more popular amongst architects and this is something that a cloud-based tool can greatly help out with.
4. Open source vs. premium
When it comes to the issues of budget, you need to keep in mind the fact that a professional architect needs to approach the cost of a software license as an operational expense. Still, open source tools have some advantages that one shouldn’t ignore. First of all, if you decide to use a plethora of tools, you can opt for open source ones as back-up, due to the fact that they’re free and, therefore, don’t contribute to your operational expenses. Second, they usually have an amazing community, which can be a major turning point in this industry. Lastly, they offer greater transparency and outstanding security. Needless to say, both of these features can become an important asset.
5. Impressing the client
One of the reasons why a lot of people use tools like Photoshop in this field is due to the fact that they have a responsibility towards their clients to present them with a visual representation of the end result of the project. One of the benefits that you can get from this is the possibility to integrate the image created and rendered this way into your digital marketing. This is important for both firms and freelance architects who are quickly becoming a bigger and bigger part of the industry. In other words, the quality of the image and the effect that it makes is just as important when choosing your tools.
6. Integration with other tools
The last thing you need to check before picking the adequate software is the possibility of integrating it with other tools, platforms, and plugins. For instance, SketchUp can be integrated with Google earth in order to help you make a much better positioning of the structure on the property in question. This and other plugins can make your job a lot easier. This particular trend is also quite important if, in the future, your company decides to start developing their own specialized tools and apps. While this may still be just a distant possibility, it’s also a concept that you should definitely not rule out.
In the end, it’s important to mention that you’re in no way restricted to a single tool or a single software that you can use and that you have a plethora of options and combinations to choose from. Also, as a freelance architect or a person in charge of a small construction business, you’ll also need to use a range of tools that aren’t necessarily related to the structural design and analysis. For instance, you’ll need a reliable construction accounting software, a platform for comparing material and equipment prices, etc.