Autodesk Forge is our collection of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that we use to develop our own web services. As part of our Autodesk Forge efforts, we share those APIs (including documentation and code samples) with customers and 3rd party developers (the Forge community) that want to leverage years' worth of legacy and current data associated with projects.
GTP Services builds software that extends Autodesk Building Information Modeling (BIM) / Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) capabilities from the office to the fabrication shop and to the jobsite for all construction trade contractors. GTP Services built an application named STRATUS on the Forge platform. STRATUS extends the capabilities of BIM 360 Team/Docs with features related to prefabrication assemblies, planning, shop fabrication, field installation, and tracking.
STRATUS utilizes Autodesk credentials via Authentication (OAuth) API, uses the Data Management API to publish models from AutoCAD and Revit plug-ins, leverages the Model Derivative API to translate AutoCAD/Fabrication/Revit models for web viewing, and uses the Viewer.
GTP reports that building STRATUS has been a journey for sure. They started prototyping about 2 years ago with the Autodesk LMV (Large Model Viewer) — the forerunner to today's Forge Viewer. GTP added their own publish routines inside AutoCAD and Revit that allow them to extract data required by STRATUS but would otherwise be lost during Forge model translation.
The Forge Viewer really met their needs. Taking the model off the detailers desktop and making it available in a webpage opens lots of opportunities for collaboration with team members who traditionally have worked off paper drawings or static PDFs. Allowing shop and field personnel to participate directly in prefabrication assembly definition via the web 3D model is a highlight of the solution they have built.
GTP finds that the cost of the Forge platform is very reasonable, especially for those who build on the BIM 360 platform as well. The value is easy to measure in the time it has saved them on software development. In their words: Forge is a platform that allows a small company like GTP to do BIG things. Sharing user credentials across applications is a must as it allows permissions from the BIM 360 tools to be shared with their application. They believe that model translation and web viewer are the biggest values they get from Forge.
STRATUS connects the office to the shop to the field, with order definitions, shop fabrication tools, and field installation and tracking tools, all leveraging the investment in BIM at the front end of the project. GTP provides dimensioning capabilities in STRATUS that eliminate 15% of detailing work adding dimensions for paper drawings. For example: TigerStop is an automated measurement tool for the shop, used to nest cuts from stock length materials such as a 20’ copper pipe. In addition to being a Forge developer, GTP is also TigerStop reseller. STRATUS sends cut lists for hanger components, conduit, pipe, and duct accessories directly to the TigerStop tool in the shop. The time savings for implementing STRATUS and TigerStop for cutting pipe have been reported as taking a per cut time of more than 1 minute down to about 5 seconds per cut. (For more info, see the TigerStop story)
In general, STRATUS is offering model-centric planning and tracking workflows that are replacing disconnected spreadsheets and paper processes. GTP sees Forge as the right framework to build upon because AutoCAD, Fabrication, and Revit are the tools of choice for construction trade contractors. Forge is already working well for STRATUS, and GTP notes that they will continue to leverage new capabilities as they become available. Web development was a new endeavor for GTP and there was a learning curve. Thankfully, the samples and support provided by Autodesk were helpful in getting STRATUS off the ground.
GTP describes STRATUS thusly:
Forge-based software is alive in the lab.