Geo Week News

December 12, 2012

ClearEdge: ‘The most ambitious release we’ve ever done’


Plant 4.0 brings in new visualization engine, up to 90 percent auto-extraction

HERNDON, Va. – When ClearEdge3D released EdgeWise Plant 3.0 back in March, we heard “the flanges are probably coming this summer” to the tool that is designed to make the point cloud-to-CAD model process easier, and that you could “nearly complete” a piping model in the software before bringing it into AutoCAD or MicroStation.

Well, here’s 4.0, and here are the flanges and “field-to-finish” modeling in the release of 4.0, said CEO Chris Scotton. “It’s just a fundamentally different and ambitious release. It’s the most ambitious release we’ve ever done.” There’s even a new pricing model.

The core technology on which the company made its bones, the automatic feature extraction technology, has improved, Scotton said, and the software’s feature set now includes “an extensive component library, valves and flanges, caps, etc. based on ISO, JIS, and DIN, not just ASME … And what’s interesting is that they’re dimensionally accurate, not just a placeholder. They’re properly spec’d.”

There’s also now an ability to bring in custom specifications, a completely rebuilt high-definition point cloud visualization engine that can handle multi-billion point clouds, and a demolition tool that allows users to remove portions of point clouds once they’ve been modeled.

You can find a variety of YouTube videos showing off how these features work here.

So, “field to finish” – does this mean ClearEdge is looking to replace AutoCAD and Microstation? Not at all, said Scotton, who noted the company is also looking to integrate with the likes of Aveva and others. “Almost always, the deliverable for the plant industry is either an AutoCAD model or a Microstation model or a PDMS model, etc., so when I say end-to-end modeling solution, I mean you can create the entire piping model within EdgeWise much faster than with any other tool … It allows you to layer with EdgeWise, then export that to Microstation or AutoCAD and then have all the annotations and intelligence in the CAD platform.”

But isn’t the trend toward using the point cloud as the model, anyway? Sure, admitted Scotton, in some cases, but “one of the reasons that so many folks are pitching the point cloud as the model is that modeling has been difficult and time consuming. EdgeWise solves that problem. Nearly everyone would agree, if you can have a lightweight 3D model that you can create quickly and cost effectively, that’s better than a point cloud that has limited functionality.”

But isn’t that functionality being added, with the trend toward geo-tagging that attendees recently saw at SPAR Europe?

“There always will be applications where you can utilize a point cloud without having to model,” Scotton said, “and it’s up to the market to decide what those are, and it’s up to us to create the fastest possible workflow to get to a model. But particularly in the asset management and plant space, there are just huge advantages to having a model vs. a terabyte-sized point cloud. There are things you can do with that you can’t do with a point cloud. “

And as to that new pricing model: With 4.0, ClearEdge introduces a new perpetual license that allows you to pay a flat fee for lifetime ownership of the software, with a 20 percent maintenance fee annually. Otherwise, licenses are available for monthly and annual entry points.

“Monthly rental is for smaller firms that will be occasional users,” Scotton said. “It’s a cost-effective way to create a model for less than $1,000.”

A month? Won’t it take that long just to get up to speed? “Training takes two hours,” Scotton said. “It’s a really easy software to learn.”

For a webinar that introduces some of what 4.0, and automatic feature extraction in general, can do, go here. 

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