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AutoDesk Spotlights Major Design Power Customers


CAD Galvanizes Production for Metal Building Manufacturer

From the Oil Rush of the 1920's, through the golden era of aviation, and the building boom of the information age, Robertson Ceco and its subsidiaries Star Buildings, Ceco Buildings, and Robertson Buildings of Canada have been at the forefront of metal building design and manufacturing. With $255 million in annual sales and customers including Lockheed, Coca-Cola, and MCI, Robertson Ceco makes the business of metal building construction more efficient using Autodesk® software featuring AutoCAD® Release 14 and Autodesk View®.

Arthur R. Green Co. office and warehouse

The quonset hut has grown up. Robertson Ceco designs non-residential metal buildings, such as the Arthur R. Green Co. office and warehouse shown here, with AutoCAD Release 14 desktop design software.

Metal buildings go way beyond Quonset huts by the side of a runway," says Roger Burlingame, vice president of Technical Services. "Over 60 percent of low-rise, non-residential construction projects use metal buildings as an economical, long-term solution to building and structural needs. We deliver a lot of ways to satisfy that need, and Autodesk software is a big part of the solution."


While satisfying a diverse and increasingly complex range of customer needs is the key to Robertson Ceco's success, the company must also enable customers to quickly design structures using the common components and materials that make a metal building economical in the first place. To this end, Robertson Ceco constantly seeks to streamline the processes of detailing, automating production, and eliminating construction delays.

"Our goal for many years now has been to tie design, manufacturing, and construction together by understanding and incorporating customer input early, and delivering a structure faster." says Burlingame. "A good CAD system is an important part of that."

"From top to bottom, [AutoCAD Release 14] facilitates the automation and design communication we're trying to achieve."

Roger Burlingame, Vice President of Technical Services, Robertson Ceco


In the several years since Robertson Ceco chose AutoCAD as the company's design software it has become the basis for its efforts in design, manufacturing, marketing, and construction. Using AutoCAD, customers can preview building designs by viewing rendered drawings and 3D models in contractors' offices. The Robertson Ceco XDS (eXpert Design System) design application, which is based on AutoCAD and a knowledge-based engineering system from Autodesk developer Design Power, enables customers to make edits that are reflected automatically in 3D models, manufacturing, and assembly drawings.

"When we use AutoCAD for drafting and output of DWG, DXF, and DWF files we're assured that customers and our own staff can read those drawings-that's what makes XDS work," says Burlingame. "From top to bottom, the software facilitates the automation and design communication we're trying to achieve."

In the final stages of detailing a building, Robertson Ceco workgroups use AutoCAD Release 14 to refine new details and complete drawings. According to Burlingame, it's this stage in particular where Release 14 and the DWG standard prove invaluable. "The workgroups have to handle and exchange files created in various versions of AutoCAD, but they need the productivity features of Release 14," explains Burlingame. "We haven't had any problems with file compatibility, and Release 14 is saving us time every minute of every day. Release 14 helps us produce faster."

Burlingame says incremental time savings achieved through the use of drafting features like O-Snaps, as well as Release 14 software's improved reliability help the company increase productivity and throughput.

Robertson Ceco is also deriving significant value through Release 14 software's network-friendliness and Drawing Web File (DWF) format which enables the exchange and editing of AutoCAD drawings over the Internet. "Among our drafters, the DWF file format has become invaluable," says Burlingame. "We've created an intranet library of standard parts, sample drawings, and guidelines that we can use for training or manufacturing. DWF makes Release 14 a more flexible tool."

Today, AutoCAD software is helping Robertson Ceco achieve its highest levels of productivity, while helping designers and customers envision and construct more complex metal buildings than ever before. With an eye on almost total automation in the future, Burlingame envisions an even greater role for AutoCAD and partner products like those from Design Power. "Our goal is to make the design of metal buildings almost effortless," says the forward-looking Burlingame. "We want to create an environment where everything from building codes, structural design, materials availability, and construction plans can be linked and changed with the click of a button. It's ambitious, but AutoCAD and Autodesk are helping make those long-term goals real."