Marcus O’Brien, the current product manager for the entire AutoCAD family for Autodesk, started out as
a mechanical engineering intern 16 years
ago in Limerick, Ireland. He merely produced
engineering drawings with the ubiquitous modeling program, not the whole thing. Much has
changed for both O’Brien and engineers since
then. They are asked to do more: working with
more systems that are more complicated,
“I was purely focused on HVAC and plumb-
ing,” he says of his early years. “Over time as
I grew in my career, I had to learn more about
electrical systems, generators, control circuity,
high and low voltage systems.”
This was crucial as an engineering consul-
tant for data center design.
“Every system must work together in harmony,” he explains, having to fgure the HVAC
system controlling “unbelievable tolerance in
temperature and humidity” into the equation
with rows of heat-generating computer servers
and their cooling systems.
As plants and factories get smarter, with
more electrical overlapping with the me-
chanical considerations, the 35-year-old
AutoCAD has undergone a similar “contin-
In 2018, Statista says IIoT devices
reached 440.8 million worldwide, an in-
crease of 21% over 2017. That will
seem modest in the coming decade.
The recently launched AutoCAD 2019
facilitates the highest level of inter-disci-plinary design by making available all seven specialized tool sets for all subscribers.
The formerly individualized toolsets are:
architecture, mechanical, electrical, MEP,
Plant 3D, Map 3D, and raster design. This
creates a library of more than 750,000
intelligent objects, styles, parts, features,
and symbols. Subscriptions start at $195/
month and $1,575/year.
AutoCAD 2019 now includes specif-
ic tools for manufacturing, from small
screws to entire milling machines,”
O’Brien says. “Some of the more com-
monly used tools our manufacturing custom-
ers use include Power Dimensioning, Standard
Parts and Features and our Parts list. We see
customers designing automotive parts, large
turbines and generators, ship building as well
as mechanical parts like pumps, valves etc.”
Along with speaking with customers and
taking their feedback into account, Autodesk
conducted a test study in 2015 to fnd out
how much time could be saved by using the
specialized toolset over the “vanilla” AutoCAD
to add balloons and create a corresponding
parts list. The result was more than 40% in-
“Using AutoCAD, it takes 12 commands,
but because there are specialized features for
this in the mechanical toolset, it can be done
in fve commands,” O’Brien says. “In terms of
time saved on this rudimentary task, this adds
signifcant effciency to AutoCAD customers.
Now imagine those effciency gains across
the entire portfolio of specialized toolsets.”
He says ultimately the update will break
down siloes and provide the most value
“We are going to see an evolution of people using these specialized tools together in
new ways,” O’Brien says. One example he
gives is a mechanical engineer now being
able to change electrical components
on a proposal, because they have the
tools to do so.
That’s something that could be commonplace for future engineers who will
have artifcial intelligence and predictive
analytics assisting them in building da-ta-driven manufacturing environments.
“Graduates today are going to have to
be absolutely excellent in understanding
data,” says the product manager, citing
advances in Io T, sharing economies,
and overall collaboration. Unlike when
he started, O’Brien says the upcoming
generation will need to be fully fuent in
mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, and
“You’re no longer going to be able to
get away with being a purely mechanical en-
gineer. The specialization is going to continue,
like being a robotics person, but you’ll be a
robotics specialist, not a mechanic.”
New browser-based AutoCAD web and mo-
bile apps, also expand accessibility to the
modern, agile worker. Even if signing into their
Autodesk account via a mobile device, they
can access Trusted D WG fles, core 2D drafting
and editing tools 24/7. This means you can
sneak one last glance at prototype design at
the airport, or make running changes on your
tablet at the jobsite. Any changes are saved
back at the local network drive.
“We want to enable our customers to work
anytime, anywhere,” O’Brien says.
Evolving doesn’t mean abandoning the
traits that help you survive, and AutoCAD has
not forgotten what has helped it thrive for more
than three decades.
The new version has streamlined it 2D
graphics so any operation that requires redrawing or regenerating the model, such as
zooming or changing layer properties, can now
be done up to twice as fast.
“There’s tremendous market for 3D design,
but 2D is not going anywhere,” O’Brien says.
“For early concept validation, communicating
ideas, it’s as relevant if not more relevant as
it has been in the past.”
For the full article, visit:
AutoCAD Adapts and Evolves to Fit More Skilled and Agile Workforce
The 2019 version of AutoCAD gives engineers with cross-disciplinary skillsets the tools to work faster and smarter,
as well as anywhere they want.
by John Hitch