CADS is a global developer of structural software with a major focus on RC detailing. Greg Corke caught up with Ian Chambers, International Sales and Marketing Director, CADS, to talk about the companyÝs increasing global reach, the impact of the credit crunch and its unique RC detailing service.
Greg Corke: CADS RC has been spreading its wings in recent months adding support for South African and Indian detailing standards. What are the driving forces behind these latest additions and do you have plans to add other standards?
Ian Chambers: South Africa is a lucrative market for us with some well-established customers, such as Arcus Gibb, which is using CADS RC and some of our other products, including our 3D detailing solution for structural steelwork, Advance Steel.
South Africa has traditionally looked to the British code, from which its own SABS code has developed as well as being a destination for many British engineers. It is also growing fast, especially with the upcoming World Cup in 2010. So in 2007, after some careful evaluation, we chose reseller partner CAE Solutions in Johannesburg, a well-established Autodesk reseller.
In line with this move we ÙrefreshedÝ CADS RC by updating its macros for stairs, foundations, etc. and added support for the latest South African Detailing Code. We gave this upgrade free to all maintained customers.
CAE Solutions is also offering our global RC Detailing Service to their customers. This results in a mature package of software, training and services for South African engineers and construction companies, something that we intend to repeat with additional partners across Africa in the coming months Our operation in India has traditionally sold CADS RC to Indian-based offices of UK consultancies or offshore detailing operations. However, the growth of IndiaÝs construction market led us to see further opportunities to support detailing of local projects as well. For this we needed to ensure CADS RC was fully-compliant with Indian standards and therefore CADS RC India was born.
This is a new product based on CADS RC version 9 and was released early in 2008. CADS-RC India supports detailing to Indian standard IS 2502:1963 (Reaffirmed 1990 and 1999). It also includes a number of bar shapes to meet the extra requirements for seismic detailing to IS 13920:1993 Edition 1.2 (2002-03). We have also increased our sales and support presence in India with offices and resellers in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Sri Lanka. CADS RC India has really taken off and we are planning further investments.
In addition to India and South Africa, CADS RC supports British and North American detailing codes. The North American code is covered by RebarCAD, which we launched in the US and Canada in the mid 1990s. In terms of future additional codes the obvious new standard is the Eurocode. To this end CADS has several parallel developments taking place that will ensure our analysis, design and detailing software is compatible as we move towards the 2010 deadline. We also continue to work closely with North American rebar fabricators on their specific bar shape requirements.
GC: AutodeskÝs Revit Structure now includes a dedicated RC detailing solution called AutoCAD Structural detailing. As CADS is also a reseller of Revit Structure how has this affected the way you position CADS RC?
IC: We view Revit Structure as a major opportunity for UK engineering consultancies to realise the BIM ÙvisionÝ. Initially, we envisaged the links with analysis software tools such as Scia Engineer as the key message, but further investigation and feedback from customers has shown a real mix of experiences and ways of working. From using Revit Structure on its own as a modelling tool, linking to analysis tools or even using it to generate drawings ready to be detailed in CADS RC, Revit Structure has much to offer. However, we find that it may suit some consultancies but not others, depending on their requirements and existing software mix. We are happy to provide advice on all options we are able to sell.
GC: Do you find that new customers of CADS RC are moving over from other dedicated RC detailing solutions, or is ÙvanillaÝ AutoCAD still strong and, if so, why do you think this is?
IC: Of course users of ÙvanillaÝ AutoCAD are still out there, but many of them will be dissatisfied with it as a dedicated detailing tool.
We have found that AutoCAD users already fail to exploit the AutoCAD features they have. In response, CADS has seen its role as building on these features in a way that is relevant to RC detailers and rebar fabricators.
Several million tonnes of rebar reinforcement is detailed every year by users of CADS RC and RebarCAD. Fundamentally it is about time and cost saving. By exploiting AutoCADÝs paper space and layout features CADS RC v9 is able to produce multiple drawings and bar schedules from a single DWG file. Features such as Viewport Manager help detailing users unlock the potential of AutoCAD. Viewport Manager greatly simplifies the creation and editing of AutoCAD Layouts and viewports to achieve the required plotted page. Once users have defined viewports and their associated scales then CADS-VPM will automatically apply the required scale to CADS RC v9 details as they are created or manipulated. VPM will automatically rescale details when moved between viewports.
GC: One of the major features of CADS RC 9.0 is a completely redesigned scheduling interface. How has this impacted the workflows of your customers?
IC: CADS RC v9 is the first part of the complete redesign of CADS RC, which has been designed to combine new features with intelligent but simple presentation.
The new bar scheduling interface has been completely redesigned to offer improved usability and clarity. With version 9 an improved working space makes organising, categorising and formatting rebar data much easier.
Users can interact directly with the bar schedule to customise layouts. Formatting the schedule, reports templates and company standards is simple. Delivery of drawings and schedules can be achieved in various ways and revision management ensures all changes are tracked and marked automatically. The latest release of CADS RC v9.03 has taken things even further with a new command ribbon that provides an alternative to the traditional CADS RC interface. It is up to the user whether they switch this on or not so choice is not an issue.
Some breaking news is that we have also completed our latest work on tool palettes for CADS RC. This is a major new feature, which provides an alternative way of working to the traditional dialogue boxes.
GC: For a software developer CADS is unique insofar as you also offer an RC detailing service for your main markets of Dubai (UAE), UK, USA & Canada. I would suspect business in Dubai is very healthy, but how has the global economic climate affected your other serviced countries, and what about growth economies like India and China?
IC: Reputation is everything and working with the developer of CADS RC offers enormous advantages over using other outsourced detailing operations. For starters you know we understand the software, but we also have a fundamental understanding of detailing as a process.
UAE has always been a happy hunting ground for us, with substantial projects at Jumeirah Beach Residences, Dubai Festival City and the Dubai Motor City. We also have several spectacular projects in hand in Abu Dhabi. We envisage further growth there and with local detailing teams, software sales and support hope to develop this market still further to encompass other Gulf states.
The so-called Ùcredit crunchÝ has affected us in complex ways. Whilst software sales take longer in the UK, growth is still apparent in other markets such as India and the UAE for various reasons. Maybe the funding of their projects, a particular GovernmentÝs will to fuel growth or the latent demand ensure many markets remain relatively unaffected. But having a detailing service as well as software provides our customers with options and we have a broader and more robust offering when times get tougher.
The emerging economies are growing at phenomenal rates but how they service that growth, whether through local purchasing, contracting Western consultancies or utilising outsourced operations varies.
We find that once major clients have used our detailing service for a project in one region it often leads to work in other parts of the world, such as the recently completed Larnaca Airport in Cyprus. We welcome projects big and small and see having a diverse mix of clients and markets as absolutely essential for a healthy and expanding business.