5 Jul 2023

Symetri: Industry wide collaboration with Autodesk Docs and Data Exchange API

From Sketch to Concept: By taking advantage of a Common Data Environment (Autodesk Docs) and Autodesk Data Exchange, project teams can design, coordinate, and share their creations seamlessly and with ease. Image: Stadium model sourced from SketchUp's 3D Warehouse.

Symetri is a leading global digital consulting practice that specializes in providing services and leading-edge technology that drives efficiency and sustainable design for the owner, design, engineering, construction, and manufacturing industries. 

Challenges: siloed project data and extensive software interoperability workarounds and training 

In the AECO industry, there is often a fragmented approach to project model information and data, which leads to inconsistent project coordination, overexposure of sensitive information, and unnecessary rework between project milestones. To address these challenges, there is a critical need for a user-friendly, seamless model-sharing tool, especially when project teams are using multiple software programs like Autodesk Revit, McNeel Rhino, and others. 

 Effectively and rapidly sharing early design iterations can help teams reach the best design, faster. 

As Autodesk platinum partners and consultants for digital transformation, Symetri constantly faces the challenge of effectively sharing software options and workflows with our clients. These workflows are often complex and require specialized knowledge to implement successfully. To ensure high standards of model data sharing practices, we directly mentor client design teams and provide them with workflow guidelines and training modules. However, given the fast pace and demands of their jobs, design teams find it difficult to coordinate, train, and implement these workflows. As part of our commitment to keeping clients up to date with the latest software options and workflows, we conduct specialized internal research, development, and training. We then share our findings with Symetri's clients. 

Solution: a common data environment that supports the seamless exchange of data between apps 

To overcome these challenges, project teams can collaborate in a common data environment (CDE) and coordinate all project information using Autodesk Platform Services and Autodesk Docs. We first use Autodesk Forma for quick site and context modeling as well as conceptual design – and then we continue our design process in Revit and Rhino. The Data Exchange Connectors for Rhino and Revit – both Autodesk tools – make it much easier to share model information between Rhino and Revit, reducing the learning curve previously associated with connected workflows between the apps. Both the Data Exchange Connectors, alongside Autodesk Docs, provide user-friendly interfaces and ensure fast interoperability, enabling native geometry and data to be seamlessly exchanged between both programs. As this tool becomes more widely used, it will significantly improve coordination and enhance the quality of models between Rhino and Revit. 

Data shared using Autodesk’s Data Exchange Connectors gets stored in the widely used CDE, Autodesk Docs.

During our beta testing phase, Symetri provided valuable feedback to the Autodesk Platform Services team on the Data Exchange Connector for Rhino and Revit, based on our extensive experience working with various clients and observing the daily challenges faced by clients and consultants. In addition to exploring the growing ecosystem and other connectors in development from Autodesk – such as integrations with Dynamo, Grasshopper, Inventor, Power BI, and more – we are also developing targeted workflows to share with our client base. These workflows aim to assist the AECO industry in design coordination and digital transformation. 

We use the Data Exchange Connectors to share subsets of geometry and parameter data between tools like Revit and Rhino – all through the cloud. 

Business Outcomes: freeing up time to focus on better designs and critical industry challenges 

Straightforward interoperability powered by Autodesk Data Exchange and Docs helps us achieve these outcomes: 

  • Single source of truth: With Autodesk Docs, our clients and our project teams have a single source of truth for project data and model information, fostering industry-wide coordination.  
  • Reduce errors and rework: Autodesk Data Exchange is integrated with Autodesk Docs, plus it’s easy to use. That significantly lowers the learning threshold for teams, resulting in a greater return on investment for design firms as they carry out their daily tasks, particularly in coordination efforts. Moreover, with its seamless transfer of geometry and metadata, we can significantly reduce information loss and rework. 
  • Efficiency and collaboration: Better interoperability creates more opportunities for the AECO and manufacturing industries to explore, address, and resolve critical issues such as net-zero/sustainable design, urban design, and sustainable manufacturing, among others. By providing an intuitive platform for sharing essential project data with project stakeholders, design teams will be able to allocate their time more effectively to make impactful design decisions. Moreover, with enhanced interoperability across different software and disciplines, better coordination between consultants can lead to greater opportunities for design analysis and optimization throughout the project life cycle. 

Products and APIs used: Autodesk Data Exchange, Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Docs, McNeel Rhino, Autodesk Forma, Epic Twinmotion, Regrid, and Open City Model.

"With the suite of tools being built using Autodesk Data Exchange, the time it takes to achieve digital interoperability and project coordination will be drastically reduced. Less time dedicated to the process of sharing project data, will ultimately improve ROl and allow designers to focus on more complex matters in the building industry such as sustainability and decarbonization." - Geoffrey Tears, Senior Solutions Specialist at Symetri US (Formally Microdesk)

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