Five Ways to Elevate Your Business with Cloud-Based Modeling
Cloud services have been gaining momentum across industries, businesses, and even in our personal lives. Even before the explosion of remote work necessitated by the pandemic, virtually-hosted data platforms and workstations have taken root as prominent tools that are, in many cases, critical to business’ success.
In the steel construction industry, web-based solutions like SDS2 Cloud (formerly SDS2 Edge) are powering growth and collaboration among detailing teams and between stakeholders.
Many problems and constraints formerly thought inevitable are in fact quite fixable and even avoidable with the cloud. Information silos, recruiting and hiring constraints, disjointed shop-to-field communications, rising IT costs, data insecurity…the list goes on.
Of course, new tech can be intimidating, and many of you are too busy to stop and think about new tools and software. But if the current economic climate hasn’t already convinced you to take your steel detailing to the cloud, it’s high time to consider the long-term benefits it can bring to your business. Why merely stay afloat when you can grow and thrive?
In this article, we’ll look at 5 key ways cloud-based modeling solutions can help you elevate your business.
1. Flex your boundaries for growth
The most obvious benefit of cloud-based modeling is the physical flexibility it offers. When your software and data isn’t tied down to a single computer or to the IT infrastructure in your office, you can get your work done from almost anywhere, without fear of having outdated or incomplete data or conflicting information silos.
"Without SDS2, what we do wouldn't be possible. With SDS2 [Cloud] our crew is able to work from anywhere, anytime, and it's help us build a collaborative environment." Brian Thompson, KMA Steel
For one thing, this means you can keep your detailers safe and healthy without slowing down your productivity when, for instance, we’re hit with a global pandemic.
But the increased flexibility also has big implications for your long-term growth. We all know how scarce good detailers are these days. If you can eliminate geographical constraints with a cloud solution, you won’t be limited to local talent pools when it comes to hiring and building your teams.
Divide and Conquer Workflows
in a Live Multiuser Environment
2. Model faster with streamlined workflows
The added flexibility also opens doors for better and more creative collaboration. With your project data all hosted on a centralized, virtual hub, you can easily divide and conquer workloads according to the strengths of your individual team members or bring more hands on deck when deadlines get tight.
If you’re into even bigger team-ups, even better. Cloud solutions generally work across the globe, so you can collaborate with other detailers or manage “follow-the-sun” detailing projects for round-the-clock productivity.
A Point to Consider: Model Sharing versus Live Multiuser Modeling
It is important to note here that not all cloud-based steel detailing solutions are created equal in this regard. Some operate on a model sharing system, where you work on a local machine and then “write out” and “read in” changes to the cloud-hosted model. This means you can work offline, but it can also give rise to conflicts in version control where the last user to save wins.
SDS2 Cloud is the only detailing solution to offer live multiuser modeling, meaning that you can access the model from any internet-connected device and work on the same model and at the same time as multiple other users, and see each other’s actions as they are made.
3. Simplify your project management
As you grow and expand your collaborative boundaries, you’ll also need a smooth and easy way to manage projects. Cloud services give you an advantage here as well, making your models more accessible for review earlier and more frequently throughout the project.
In SDS2 Cloud, it’s instantaneous. As a project manager, you can see what your detailers are doing as they’re doing it, identify potential issues, and make in-model comments for your detailers or even make changes yourself on the fly.
If you’re using a model sharing system, review is typically wrapped up in version control—you review updates as users write out their local changes to the cloud-hosted model.
4. Create proactive workflows with shop-to-field coordination
In addition to managing your own team, cloud-based detailing also simplifies coordination with external stakeholders. In SDS2 Cloud, for example, you can immediately share changes with an engineer equipped with SDS2 Model Review or Viewer. They’ll see the in-model changes as well as the expanded design calcs and can approve changes on the fly, dramatically reducing the typical RFI timeline. Some SDS2 customers are shaving weeks off their projects with this method.
It works in the other direction of the project pipeline as well. As a fabricator or project manager in a fab shop, you could take your 3D model on a laptop or tablet to the field to work with the erector or general manager. Help them visualize complex connections or work through load planning and site planning for a more proactive, rather than reactive, project workflow.
5. Reduce IT costs and offload software maintenance
The best part about making a move to a cloud-based workflow is the bottom line: it saves you time and effort, and it saves you money. This is true not only in streamlining your projects and expanding your business opportunities, but also in your basic operations and costs. Data storage, security, and backups are all taken care of by the cloud-hosting service, giving you peace of mind and minimizing your IT efforts. In some cases, even the computing power is handled virtually, meaning you need less powerful—and therefore less costly—machines to complete your work.
Software updates also come automatically with most cloud solutions, including SDS2, so you will never have to press pause on your work to upgrade software or install new versions.
This means that adopting a new cloud-based software or infrastructure for your business should be pretty painless, too. So what are you waiting for?
The immediate benefits are clear, and as cloud-based construction software continues to expand and grow, we expect to see even more possibilities for growth, flexibility, and creative project workflows arise.