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International design and engineering firm Arup on how better document sharing has led to greater communication.

Document sharing on a standardised platform can be critical in large-scale construction and development.

For Arup, contracts, specifications, design information, 3D models, engineering drawings, project timelines, and other important documentation need to be fully co-ordinated. “Our business encompasses everything from engineering to final product,” says Graeme Robinson, associate director, Continental Europe IT leader at Arup. “We need technology solutions that enable employees around the world to share information and thoughts quickly, efficiently, and securely.”

The National Aquatics Centre, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing. Its distinctive facade was inspired by the natural formation of soap bubbles. Arup’s designers and structural engineers realised that a structure based on this geometry would be highly repetitive and buildable, while appearing organic and random

At the same time as being able to share all the required information, project details are valuable assets that need protecting from unauthorised access to safeguard the viability of the business venture.

Arup streamlines the process of sharing design documents with Adobe Acrobat X and Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection, Design Premium, and Design Standard.

Over the years, Arup migrated from paper-based information delivery processes to digital forms as the technology became widely available and more reliable. However, given its large geographical footprint, digital document generation and reading software varied, sometimes creating difficulties in fully accessing and sharing electronic files.

To standardise operations on the latest version of Acrobat, Arup secured an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) with Adobe to distribute software to employees worldwide through the Microsoft System Centre Configuration Manager suite — virtual software store — where employees request Adobe Acrobat, submit the request for approval, and IT support will automatically download the software directly to their desktops.

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“The ELA helps us leverage the latest version of Adobe Acrobat — and all of the newest security and functionality that comes with it — on every computer around the world,” says Mr Robinson. “It is a straightforward and efficient process for delivering the right technology to the right people at the right time.”

Collaborative management

Global employees use identical software, packaging and sharing for detailed and highly sensitive design drawings. Arup uses a number of solutions to convert drawings to PDF files to share the information in a collaborative environment.

Arup aims to standardise on two PDF management products globally. “Drawings and reports are constantly moved between different groups across Arup and other organisations,” Mr Robinson says. “Using the PDF solutions files ranging from simple documents to more complex 3D models, animations and video are arranged in a way that makes it quick and convenient for teams to locate the information they need and provide comments or mark-up drawings.

“We do a lot of design development work. It is more than just a series of drawings and elevations. We are always looking at ways to send and receive digital information electronically between parties for faster and more efficient management of project delivery times.”

Project managers work with graphic designers and multimedia specialists to produce richly animated visual representations of the project using components of Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection.

Designs and elevations created in Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended are inserted into project files and brought to life using Adobe After Effects CS5.5 and the Adobe Flash Platform. This interactive approach helps engineers, designers and architects understand the vision of the plan and create imaginative designs to present to clients.

Vibrant communications

Design is the foundation of Arup’s business. It is important that this vision can be demonstrated to inspire its clients.

It uses Adobe Acrobat X in combination with components of Creative Suite 5.5 to support the production of its client-facing documentation.

Whether it is a graphic designer developing information for a project bid using Adobe InDesign CS5.5 and Illustrator CS5.5 or a videographer capturing the ambience surrounding a project site and editing video in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5, Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection components provide a seamless workflow that enables Arup engineers to create compelling designs.

With Adobe Acrobat X, they can be delivered reliably to support a more comprehensive marketing strategy.

Arup can use CS5 to compile a number of file types — video, audio, animated presentations, and branded documents. “We work on some of the most high-profile projects in the world, so the quality of our designs and how we present them is critical,” says Nigel Morris, lead for the visual communications team, Arup UK.

“With Adobe Creative Suite, we can take animations and designs we create with Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 and reliably deliver them to diverse audiences across multiple platforms, devices, and operating environments.”

Recipients need only the free and ubiquitous Adobe Reader software to view and interact with dynamic content in PDF files.

“There is gathering momentum in the industry around using digital communications and shifting away from paper-based processes and collateral. We feel we are ahead of the curve in adopting ways to streamline the process of collecting data, creating compelling content, and delivering it to our audiences quickly and efficiently.”

adobe.com / arup.com

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