Why Outsourcing Architectural Design Development Can Work For You

How common is outsourcing design development in architecture practices? We think it happens all the time, for big brand-names and small studios alike. It may not always be formal outsourcing, but it carries the same core principles. One way of basic outsourcing is using interns and graduates that work in temporary roles but handling much of the design development work and less of the more demanding creative and conceptual design work. One more sophisticated and organized form of outsourcing is hiring an outside firm, either local or international. Such a firm effectively becomes a design partner, seamlessly integrating in the company’s architectural design team.

An company abroad, for instance, would handle all the drawing/modeling tasks but is not usually in direct contact with the client, nor is it present in meetings and basically works hard to deliver on the lead architect’s requirements. That’s why using “outsourcing” as a term to describe working with interns and graduates is warranted, but as we’ll see, it may often not be the best approach.

Almost all companies fit in one of the two categories above as a natural market adaptation to reduce costs with tasks that, by their nature, are fairly easy to delegate. This is a common practice nowadays and it is a perfectly fine approach, especially when there are proper communication channels in place between the low level and high level staff. Managing an office and/or a suite of projects is a task in and of itself, leaving little room for the drafting or modeling work.

So the question now becomes which one of these work forms is the most optimal? The short answer would be that each company has specific needs and a specific culture, but if we look closely we can easily determine a general trend. Whilst the use of interns and graduates may solve a problem in the short term, the need to constantly re-hire and retain them can be a major distraction. Instead, using outsourcing firms for the architectural design development phase means that you are partnering up with highly skilled professionals, with zero overhead costs. Such firms are often specialized in specific domains where they’ve honed in-house systems that allow them to work extremely fast, relying heavily on advanced BIM solutions. Outsourcing firms can also guarantee on schedule delivery since they typically have buffer resources and larger numbers of employees.

When looking at outsourcing firms, there is little to no distinction between the interaction workflow you will have with local versus international companies. The problem can arise when you limit yourself to a small market, the local one, and you end up constantly swapping providers of outsourcing services and thus rely on new firms to pick up where the previous ones left. The solution is to tap into the international market and chose a quality, reliable partner for long term collaboration. Looking broader as opposed to narrower has the added advantage that you will likely find providers with lower production/management costs that will translate in a much better pricing and therefore a more competive offering.

In today’s hyper-connected global economy, communication is a non-issue and offshore collaborations become opportunities instead of challenges, allowing design leads to focus on the core aspects of their businesses.

Issues Affecting The Adoption of 3D BIM Modelling

Issues including cost and time overruns, material wastage, and process inefficiency have marred the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry worldwide. Whilst the reasons behind this may differ from project to project, lack of interdisciplinary coordination amongst the designers, the building services engineers, and the contractors is the most common of all. Considering these unfavourable project outcomes, there is a significant push from the governments, mainly in developed nations, to accelerate or mandate the adoption of 3D BIM modelling in varying levels for government-funded projects.

Whilst parametric modeling tools such as BIM technology is being increasingly used for government projects private construction projects are also seeing the benefits with many employing forward-looking AEC firms that have already transitioned to using information-embedded Revit 3D models for design as well as construction stages. Although moving from traditional CAD-based design processes to modern BIM-enabled workflows is essential to eliminate design/coordination clashes and maximise project efficiency, there are some key inhibitions and apprehensions to what is a paradigm shift for the industry.

Firstly, many AEC firms have long been using the traditional 2D as well as non-BIM 3D CAD workflow for pre-construction 3D planning and are highly resistant to change their current conventional processes. More often than not, such firms are completely apprehensive of embracing new technology or are slow adopters of new technology and decide to change only if requested by clients or if they are part of a framework agreement requiring adoption of such technology.

Another factor that pushes potential BIM implementers back is the steep learning curve of its tools and their real-life applications specific to disciplines, such as architecture, MEP engineering, and structural engineering. One common concern is training CAD technicians, who are familiar with drafting tools such as AutoCAD, and BIM and clash detection applications, such as Autodesk Revit and Navisworks.

The biggest impeding factor to BIM implementation is the perception amongst certain groups that current projects during the BIM transition period, will suffer. As BIM adoption is much more than just software training, it requires an overall change in the way a building project is conceptualised, designed, constructed, and maintained. Whilst the traditional design methods required CAD managers with a team of CAD technicians, the modern BIM-based projects require BIM managers who liaise with discipline-specific representatives to map out the level of details (LOD) or BIM Phases required by the client, worksharing protocols/processes, and assess the adherence to interoperability and information-exchange standards.

Furthermore, there is a widespread opinion amongst the AEC fraternity that whilst adopting a full-fledged 3D BIM modelling for the entire lifecycle of a building drives cost, time, and energy performance efficiencies, tremendous effort goes into preparing custom detailed content to client’s specifications. This group believes that whilst the generic libraries can be used for design and clash detection, accurately detailed models are needed to optimally use BIM for aspects, such as cost estimation, time scheduling, and quantity take-offs.

The requirement for BIM adoption also requires a level of interaction along the design and contracting teams that is not usual and has certainly been accelerated with the use of BIM practices. Clearly defining BIM scope and requirements between the parties involved is already becoming a challenge, especially for the MEP sector where designers and trade contractors have traditionally handled conceptual design and detailed design individually. The overlap in conceptual design and detailed design is becoming the type of challenge that MEP trades and MEP designers are getting used to resolving as part of BIM adoption.

Collectively these issues pose a challenge and sometimes cause the apprehension involved for BIM project take up, something that we observe will change with continued demand for intelligent building design.

Corporate Training

CAD Training Centre: Architecture & MEP

XS CAD provides customizable training courses for all types of corporate clients. Whether you are an engineering company, an architects, a structural designer, graphic designer or a manufacturer we are able to provide customised training for you.

Before we initiate training for corporate clients we help to identify goals, targets and objectives so that our customer’s expectations are aligned to our training deliverables and outcomes more precisely. We rely on our extensive knowledge and experience to provide valued input into this process and we will usually work on development of a training program that not only uses the basic elements of our training courses bjt also has bespoke elements within it to suit the needs of our corporate clients and their candidates.

We currently provide training based on a suite of Autodesk products including the following:

  1. Autodesk Revit Architecture
  2. Autodesk Revit MEP
  3. Autodesk Navisworks
  4. Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture
  5. Autodesk AutoCAD MEP
  6. 3D Studio Max

We are able to provide corporate training within our own training facility in Andheri East or at your own corporate offices within the Mumbai region. For other locations we are able to provide training via a range of online training and collaboration tools.

Please contact us for more information about our corporate training courses by writing to training@xscadindia.com.

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Pre-Fabrication Modelling

pre fabrication modellingWe at XS CAD  provide a number of customers with bespoke and specialist services for the delivery of pre-fabricated (designed for manufacture) module drawings either as a bespoke service or as a by-product of our M&E Coordination service.

Design for manufacture and pre-fabricated modular construction is becoming an essential element of the building process for specialist and main contractors. Pre-fabrication technology and manufacturing standards and equipment continue to be developed and are helping to ensure that contractors not only save time and money but improve quality, working conditions and health and safety levels.

As wide-scale adoption of pre-fabrication output for both engineering and building components continues, contractors require the services of specialist companies to design module drawings before the modules are sent for manufacture.

At XS CAD we provide the specialist module modelling and module detailing services for contractors. Our involvement starts at the design planning stages where we are involved in the process of mapping out module requirements based on inputs from engineering, structural, logistical and installation teams.

Where we are responsible for the M&E Coordination of projects, we ensure that modules are detailed using the latest 3d design technology. 3d technology allows accurate module models to be created for all building services and structural elements before being used to create detailed drawings for off-site manufacturing teams and site fitting teams. Our module drawings include plans, sections, axonometric perspectives and precise equipment schedules.

Our experience of pre-fabrication engineering includes development of ceiling, plant and riser modules for a number of projects across the UK including leisure complexes, airport projects and healthcare projects.Contact us for a quote for your next project or to arrange a demonstration of our services.

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Multi Disciplinary Coordination

As construction projects become larger, more complex and more time critical, there is a greater need for controlled progression of the design and contracting process.
As construction projects become larger, more complex and more time critical, there is a greater need for controlled progression of the design and contracting process.At XS CAD we provide a multi-disciplinary coordination and 3d modelling service to architects, consultants and contractors to ensure that the risks of design mis-match are identified and resolved during the pre-construction stage.Multi-disciplinary service involves multi-service and multi-discipline modelling to create a 3d prototype of 3d virtual model of the complete site.

We deliver our multi-discipline modeling and validation services by combining the skills and experience of our people, a detailed understanding of the construction process, an established project management methodology and intelligent 3d technology. Our systematic approach to multi-service projects reduces duplication and rework, allowing delivery of a more accountable, accurate and cost efficient service.

At present AutoCAD MEP and Autodesk Navisworks are used to deliver our multi-disciplinary coordination service. However, increasingly we approach multi-service coordination by using BIM (Building Information Modelling) tools such as Autodesk Revit.

Whether we create multi-disciplinary models by using Revit or AutoCAD there are so many benefits for the combined 3D approach. Such benefits include; allowing the entire design team to view a virtual model as it progresses; preserving the integrity of design information in one location; reducing the time taken to create complete and approve the design; and reducing ‘design confusion’ during construction.