In this post, I’d like to highlight the latest Aconex software review written by Lachmi Khemlani, founder and editor of AECbytes: Architecture, Engineering, Construction.
Lachmi Khemlani is widely recognized as an expert in the AEC industry. Lachmi studied for her advanced postgraduate research degree at Cambridge, after which she earned a Ph.D. in Architecture, with a focus on intelligent building modeling, from U.C. Berkeley. Lachmi currently divides her time between consulting for companies in the AEC industry and writing for AECbytes. For more on Lachmi, see her interview with AEC Business.
Lachmi’s comprehensive review of Aconex is titled Aconex: Cloud Platform for AEC Collaboration. Highlights of the review can be found below.
The history of Aconex in the AEC industry
Building on her extensive experience in the industry, Lachmi recounts the history of AEC software in the beginning of her article. She points out that, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s – the dot.com boom era, there were over 150 companies vying for attention in the AEC collaboration portal space.
As Lachmi points out, while these companies pursued attention and publicity in the U.S. market, Aconex was slowing building a collaborative platform that was being embraced in Australia and eventually throughout the world. Aconex, founded in Australia “far from the maddening crowd”, was able to focus on building a collaboration solution fit to address the growing size and complexity of projects rather than performing for the boom.
Aconex continues to thrive since our founding in 2000 and is proud to be the solution of choice for many of today’s largest AEC mega-projects around the globe.
Further Reading: About Aconex – Five founding principles behind our growth and the success of our clients
What distinguishes Aconex collaboration and construction software
Lachmi mentions two particular aspects of Aconex construction software that distinguish it from the competition:
(1) Aconex is entirely web-based.
(2) Aconex is project-wide rather than firm-wide.
Aconex was in the cloud before the cloud became an industry buzzword. The Aconex solution has always been a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solution, enabling those in architecture, engineering, and construction to focus on their business rather than setting up and maintaining in-house IT solutions. This allows companies to focus on what they do best (and doing more of it) while providing significant cost-savings on the IT front.
The web-based aspects of Aconex also focus project-wide rather than firm-wide, a notion that we have embraced from the outset. How many large construction projects involve just one firm?
As Lachmi notes: “What [Aconex software] essentially does is provide a cloud collaboration platform for a project that can be used by all the disciplines and firms working on it to collaborate across the lifecycle of the project, from planning to delivery and operations.”
When software is project-wide, questions around project data control inevitably arise. Who has access to valuable project data and, of equal importance, who is in control of the data?
Aconex answers this question with the concept of neutrality as a central theme. Much like the idea of net neutrality, this principle in our construction project management software gives every organization, from the largest owner to the smallest subcontractor, ownership and control of its own information.
Big brother is not watching and he is not in charge of your data. Each project participant controls the availability of their information. As the AECbytes review points out, “This encourages the platform to be more widely used than if it was simply a central location for storing information that was accessible to everyone.”
Project lifecycle and scalability
Another concept fundamental to the Aconex platform is from inception to completion. Our software addresses the complete lifecycle of construction and engineering projects.
From planning through delivery, construction projects have many moving parts: document management, BIM collaboration, workflow automation, bid management, etc. In the mega-projects that we support, this typically translates into millions of documents created and shared by thousands of employees from disparate firms covering all phases of the project – feasibility, design, construction, inspection, handover, and operation.
Delivering a full set of solutions that cover the complete project lifecycle to thousands of customers demands scalability. As Lachmi notes, the Aconex “cloud-based architecture allows it to scale to projects of any size.”
Want to know more about Aconex scalability? Read about how the Panama Canal megaproject flows with Aconex.
Mobility in construction projects
“Since Aconex is completely web-based, all of its functionality can also be accessed on a mobile device.”
Various facets of our industry demand mobility. A project may be conceived in a conference room, but it begins and ends in the field.
Aconex responded quickly to the need for mobility as technology advanced. Shortly after the widespread adoption of the iPhone and iPad, Aconex delivered its first mobile solution. An Android solution soon followed and now these award-winning mobile solutions – Aconex Mobile and Aconex Field, enable full access from the construction site – or wherever project participants happen to be.
So, whatever you need – document sharing, image editing or field inspection, and wherever you are, Aconex mobile solutions are there.
Lachmi Khemlani focuses extensively on the native BIM support found in Aconex:
“While the concept of model viewers is not new and most collaboration solutions have a built-in viewer for BIM models, what is unique about Aconex’s BIM viewer is that it works entirely within a browser, just like the rest of the application, and it allows multiple models to be quickly brought in, collated, and viewed together.”
Collaboration has always been the DNA of Aconex, and our Connected BIM solution is intrinsic to the code. From the outset, the U.S. National BIM Standard Project Committee defined BIM as a “shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle.”
We ask, somewhat rhetorically, what good is a “shared knowledge resource” that cannot be easily shared? Our collaborative BIM solution enables project participants across the design and construction teams to consume and enrich various 3D models, developing an integrated view of the entirety of the project.
Lachmi Khemlani concludes her article by saying that Aconex “seems well poised to tackle the concurrent rise in demand for project-wide collaboration and information management.”
Collaboration is not only a core concept of Aconex software but also a fundamental business practice. Collaboration with our customers involves listening to their needs and building solutions to meet those needs.
Our solutions have helped manage more than US$1 trillion in capital projects across 70 countries. But we’re not resting on our laurels. As technology and AEC business practices evolve so will our collaborative cloud platform.
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