Full CAD Workflow Management and Multi-Office Collaboration

by | Feb 23, 2022 | Blog, Case Studies

Download the full case study (PDF) here

Premise a full-service engineering, design, and management consultancy providing solutions in areas that include urban development, transport, agriculture, energy, and surveying. The organisation has over 150 staff across 13 offices in Australia, Vietnam, and Papua New Guinea.

As a rapidly growing and diverse business, Premise use 12d Synergy as a common data environment to enhance its data management, collaboration, and QA capabilities. Premise was awarded a 12d Innovation Award in 2021 for their full CAD workflow implementation in 12d Synergy.

Challenges solved by 12d Synergy

  • Multi-office data access and collaboration
  • Version conflicts and CAD QA
  • CAD drawing and reference management
  • Title block attribute management
  • Streamlining the PDF to issuing process

The Challenge

At Premise civil projects are designed in Australia using 12d Model, and then packaged out to an international office to generate the end deliverable in AutoCAD. This process caused several data management challenges for Premise.

Multi-office Data Access

To connect their offices, Premise initially tried using a VPN to the Australian server, however this was unworkable for remote staff. “Cad became a slug over VPN for our remote staff. It was very, very slow”, explains Andrew Langdon (Civil Design Lead & Design Technology Lead). A workaround of zipping and transferring project data was instead used, but this created their own inefficiencies and risks. The challenge with CAD is the references to different files in different locations. When data was returned to Australia, all these varying files had to be manually updated, which was frustrating and error prone. This could take 15 to 30 minutes every time we received data, and that was daily for each project.”

Version Conflicts & QA

Duplicating CAD files relies on manual workflow and the process creates unnecessary risk. Outdated data could be worked on, or file changes may not be updated in the master location, causing confusion and loss in productive time. There was also no access control across the offices: “You could be working on a file and another person in a different location could mistakenly open it up and edit it.”

“Ensuring all offices were working from the latest data was the biggest challenge. There’s be hundred of different revisions going backwards and forwards between our offices. Ensuring what I was looking at in Brisbane was the same as a colleague in another office was a challenge that often created errors.”

Multi-office Access & Collaboration

The Solution

Premise sought a data management system that would enable easy collaboration and worksharing across all the organisation’s offices. After some research, Premise selected 12d Synergy because of its full integration with AutoCAD and 12d Model, strong QA and version control system, and its flexibility for use across Premise’s diverse disciplines and office locations.

Watch: Premise’s Full CAD Workflow Management & Multi-Office Collaboration

Watch Andrew Langdon (Civil Design Lead & Design Technology Lead) from Premise share how the company implmented 12d Synergy to allow for full CAD management and collboration among multiple offices in a talk presented at the 2021 12d Tech Forum

Centralised Common Data Environment

12d Synergy provides Premise with a common data environment, where all staff across all offices readily have access to the latest drawings, references, and other project data.

“12d Synergy has removed any speed or QA roadblock that existed when data was stored locally in each office. Team members can now effectively work together on drawing production regardless of location.”

As a result, “we’ve seen a large increase in work-sharing between offices, including disciplines that mightn’t be located in every office.”

Document Control & CAD QA

With 12d Synergy’s check-in check-out system, Premise “always have the latest drawings and references, and staff across all offices and remote locations can easily see who is working on what.” The system automatically maintains a history of all file changes, logging the ‘who, what & when’ behind each edit. A backup of all previous versions is automatically stored, and staff can view and rollback to previous versions, when needed.

12d Synergy allowed Premise to pass its recertification for ISO 9001 quality assurance despite the acquisition of three new businesses. “The ISO auditors were very impressed with the system; the document control, the simplicity, and the different layers of redundancy”, says Terry Tran (Chief Operating Officer).

Centralised & Clear Location

CAD Attribute Management

Premise initially used 12d Synergy’s Sheet Set Manager integration for AutoCAD to manage titleblock information in combination with 12d Synergy attributes. “12d Synergy’s SSM integration is very seamless… Client and job numbers were linked to 12d Synergy Job Attributes, and all other titleblock information was linked to the Sheet Set custom properties.” The DST files, all DWT files, and an other type of extras were all managed in 12d Synergy.

Premise have since moved all drawing titleblock information in 12d Synergy and use the in-built Bulk File Attribute Editor. The build-in attribute editor offers a spreadsheet-like editor which enables bulk updating of CAD attributes server-side.

The main driver for this was to incorporate 12 Synergy’s PDF Publisher which publishes drawings server-side without the need to open the file.

PDF Publishing & Transmittal Workflow

The utilisation of 12d Synergy’s PDF Publisher ultimately enabled Premise to achieve a workflow that transfers titleblock information from 12d Synergy to CAD to PDF and finally to the transmittal.

“The main benefit we see from 12d Synergy is the workflow from CAD to PDF to transmittal, which is auto-created. When we were using Sheet Sets, it’s a manual process to create those transmittals and issue data out. Whereas with 12d Synergy we can utilise the CAD attributes which transfer the PDF and then auto-create that transmittal. It means we’ve eliminated the human error and the transmittal is always correct based off the PDFs we are editing.”

CAD Publishing to PDF

Issuing Deliverables to Stakeholders

Once finalised, deliverables are published to stakeholders using 12d Synergy’s Issuing. Issuing files previously was “very email heavy and would get lost in thousands of other emails.” While with 12d Synergy “we can track where data is, when it’s being issued, and what different files and revisions were sent.”

Beyond CAD: Full Common Data Environment

12d Synergy is the common data environment for the majority of Premise’s data, not just CAD and 12d Model.

“We utilise many different software packages across our diverse disciplines, and the far majority of these are suitable within 12d Synergy. If there isn’t a native integration, the data can be managed either as single files or by Managed Folders.”

12d Synergy in the Cloud

With 12d Synergy, Premise has been able to downsize their IT infrastructure and migrate to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. This cloud server links with 12d Synergy’s file replication servers, enabling faster data transfers for remote offices as files are downloaded from the local server. premise’s migration to the cloud has reduced their IT costs by around 40%.

12d Synergy Cloud

The Outcomes

Collaboration and Savings

Since moving to 12d Synergy, Premise have seen a large increase in work-sharing, as well as seamless collaboration between offices and disciplines. Prior to COVID-19, this minimsation of fly-in fly-out and relocations generated substantial savings.

“With 12d Synergy we’ve saved about $20,000 a month on travel costs ($240,000 a year). It’s helped us significantly improved the way we collaborate on jobs, rather than having staff travel and spend two weeks in an on-site office to get the job out”, says Terry Tran. 

Seamless Transition to Remote Working Restrictions

Since COVID-19, 12d Synergy has enabled Premise to “very seamlessly” pivot to work from home and maintain productive business operations during lockdowns. This has also allowed Premise to expand its flexible working offering to attract and retain top staff, which has been popularly received by staff.

Simple to Use Data Management Environment

12d Synergy is a simple to use, well–supported common data environment for your whole organisation.

“It’s been a very seamless experience transitioning our staff into 12d Synergy… They quickly see the benefits of the data management system, the version history, the rollback, and the email filing. They love it.”

Money Savings
Work from Home Environment
Centralised Location
“Of all our software, 12d Synergy’s support is by far the best. 12d Synergy is far superior and far better bang for buck than any competing product. I’ll recommend 12d Synergy all day, everyday… If we started this business from scratch, 12d Synergy would definitely be there. I couldn’t picture life without it.”
Terry Tran

Chief Operating Officer, Premise

Interested in reading the full case study and learning how Premise implemented a CAD workflow for the company?

Find out more about how 12d Synergy can integrate CAD into your workplace in our free eBook

Download Free eBook: Full CAD Workflow Management and Multi-Office Collaboration

Red magnet
Michelle was a marketing coordinator here at 12d Synergy. Hailing from sunny Brisbane, she has a background in mechanical engineering authoring a final year thesis on reuseable scramjets (faster than a rocket, smaller than a plane). Outside work & rocketry, Michelle enjoys binging Netflix and food with friends.