INTERVIEW: Louay Dahmash, head of Middle East, Autodesk

INTERVIEW: Louay Dahmash, head of Middle East, Autodesk
Louay Dahmash, head of Middle East, Autodesk
Published: 8 September 2017 - 12:43 a.m.
By: ASC Staff

Talk us through how your solution(s) for rail and logistics take advantage of renewable energy?

Autodesk provides a variety of solutions that designers and engineers can use to develop the rail and logistics systems in order to take advantage of renewable energy. Building Information Modelling (BIM) solutions that includes Revit along with Insight 360 and Infraworks 360 has the potential to identify both the challenges and opportunities in developing a cost-effective and sustainable rail and logistics system.

Insight 360 for example has the capability to improve energy and environmental performance throughout the building lifecycle as it integrates lighting analysis, solar analysis and energy analysis software to provide a holistic approach to project performance.

Engineers now have the ability to run simulations that can provide key insights on the kinetic features of facade design, sun position as well as light transmittance as it relates to window glazing, placement and daylight. Designers and MEP engineers can even simulate site-level features such as the location of trees and can even mitigate the ‘heat-island’ effect in areas of high human activity.

Having access to this kind of software, designers and engineers get an accurate view of how energy consumed across various structures rise or fall enabling them to make the necessary adjustments to customize construction assemblies that are energy efficient and highly sustainable.

It is important to understand that arriving at a truly sustainable building is a journey that goes on long past the certificate of occupancy. BIM allows engineers to assemble a wide array of energy-efficiency measures, and then deploy post-occupancy studies to fine-tune them.

Designers also have the ability to further enhance the performance and efficiency of structures, vehicles and building across the logistics system through generative design. Altering the design from being traditionally square and round to being complex and unique taking into account a variety of forces, to match natural environments and passive design principles results in assets that deliver the highest performance.

Simulations through software have evolved exponentially over the years. Designers and engineers can now take advantage of the tools in order to accurately and efficiently highlight the use wind, solar, momentum or perhaps even invent new ways to harness and store and energy such as converting the kinetic energy of people walking into electricity that can power a train or a railway station.

Intuitive software supported by human intelligence and creativity can only accelerate the realization of a rail and logistics network that is fuelled by renewable energy further enhancing the development of smart cities and economies of the future.

How does Autodesk’s generative design work and what are the advantages?

Generative design mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design and allows for a more integrated workflow between the designer, engineer and computer. In effect they both become co-creators of the final design.

Designers or engineers input design goals into generative design software, along with parameters such as materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. Then using cloud computing, the software explores all possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives – essentially testing and learning from each iteration of what works and what does not work.

With generative design, there is no single solution; instead, there are potentially thousands of great solutions, often consisting of designs that would not have otherwise been possible to create using the traditional design process. As the final forms are designed to suit a specific need, their shape is unique and often referred to as organic.

Specifically in relation to the railway industry, if designers come across a challenge, that requires a unique solution to a part or section of a train, railway line or metro station, designers or engineers can input in the respective criteria and create an innovative solution to not just address the solution, but enhance the overall performance of that structure.

How are you supporting manufacturing?

Today, we are on the brink of the biggest change in how we make things since the industrial revolution, introducing everything from new technology to changes in culture and attitudes. Advances in accessible 3D design and fabrication technology are disrupting all the industries including manufacturing. Out of this disruption, a new future of making things is emerging, and more than any other software company, Autodesk is embracing this new future.

Currently, one of our best solutions for manufacturing is Autodesk Fusion Connect, a data visualization platform that takes advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) by tracking the performance of every component in a product after it has been purchased.

Autodesk Fusion Connect is based on the concept of predictive maintenance through the IoT. This platform creates digital twins of the physical product, displaying information about the product’s condition and has the ability to track the performance of individual components within these products. As a result, manufacturers are able to identify what specific part requires maintenance or needs replacement.

Traditionally, a new production batch would have been required to develop the replacement component or unit – resulting in additional costs for production and delivery.

Now, as soon as a faulty component is recognized, information is relayed to the respective manufacturing and logistics channels to produce and schedule delivery respectively to ensure efficient and seamless delivery. 

Furthermore, in the near future, manufacturing companies will be able to share the design of the replacement component to consumers or maintenance companies who will then be able to 3D-print and install the part. This will save the manufacturing company a significant amount of money as no additional costs will be incurred relating to manufacturing, delivery, resources and more.

Some of our other products  for the manufacturing industry Include CAM software for superior CNC machining, Netfabb  which streamlines the additive manufacturing workflow for designing and building production-quality 3D printed parts, and PowerShape,a modelling for manufacture toolkit to help prepare moulds, dies, and complex parts for manufacture.

What new jobs could be created in the wider logistics industry?

AR / (VR) Experience Curator: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) apps are gaining traction in the industry whereby immersive experience can be created for key decision makers and stakeholders. A variety of simulations can be created taking into account multiple factors to help designers and engineers build structures – manufacturing facilities, railway networks and more - that can address both the foreseeable and unforeseeable challenges.


An experience curator would be responsible for developing and curating multiple experiences to address the concerns of key decision makers in the industry who can then take proactive measures to account for natural disasters or various challenges that businesses within the logistics industry can face given their respective location.


Robot Trainer: Increasingly, robots are being used across several industries. The logistics and railway industries in particular across the Middle East has the potential to provide a variety of opportunities for high-risk jobs, which can be carried out by robots, similar to what is happening in the manufacturing and construction industries. Robots will work alongside human colleagues, however in order to perform the monotonous, complex and dangerous tasks, the robots need to be trained which will be the responsibility of the Robot Trainer.


Sensor System Integrators: As the Middle East continues to invest in Smart Cities and a railway network, more products and services with sensors will be created that need to communicate with each other. Furthermore, as intelligence is being implemented into almost every product and service in smart cities, even simple products and services will have different sensors embedded in them by a skilled integrator. Whether it is in a railway station, manufacturing facility, loading bay and more it will be the responsibility of the sensor system integrator to set up the interconnected network to ensure smooth and seamless progress through every stage of the logistics process.


Generative Designer: Designers in the future will not need to create a 3D-model from scratch to address a challenge they face across the logistics industry, but will only require artificial intelligence-based generative design software to create a solution that they can refine into a design.

All that is required is to identify the weight, strength, cost, size, materials and the machine will generate multiple design options of which the designer can pick the most relevant, effective and aesthetically pleasing design.


For example, Airbus used advanced algorithmic generative design tools to create multiple bionic partitions in their planes that provided the same function as a regular partition, with less weight and not compromising on quality and strength. This in turn led to millions being saved on fuel costs across a fleet of planes.


3D Printing Specialist: The boom in 3D printing – especially with the rise of 3D printed buildings – will require skilled machinists who can operate ‘subtractive’ manufacturing machines. As it relates to the future of the railway industry, if a particular component across the manufacturing machines, railway lines, trains, cargo vehicles and more requires to be replaced, a 3D printer with the necessary comprehensive design is required.

However, not all cases may be the same, which is why a 3D printing specialist will be required to make minor adjustments to the final product to ensure the replaced part works efficiently and seamlessly.


Which rail companies are you working with in the GCC and globally?


In terms of the GCC, the two rail companies that Autodesk has worked with are Qatar Rail and Arriyadh Development Authority for our work on the Riyadh Metro.

Globally, Autodesk has worked with the City of Aurora in Colorado, USA to implement a 10 Mile rail project. The Aurora Line I-225 Light Rail is a US$ 680 million project, 10.5 miles in length with eight individual stations all made possible with Autodesk software.

In Australia, Autodesk is currently working with SMEC, a professional services firm focused on major infrastructure, on an AU$ 8.3 billion project to build the North West Rail Link. The project, will be the first fully automated transit rail system in Australia. It’s poised to change the way people in one of Sydney’s fastest-growing regions commute. Residents will have a quick, convenient, and comfortable public transit option.

In Lithuania, Autodesk teamed up with local engineering company Kelprojektas to aid in the Rail Baltica project, a project to link Finland, the Baltic States and Poland, providing passenger and freight service between the countries and improving rail connections between Central and Northern Europe.

In Hong Kong, Autodesk has worked with Arup and MTR on the MTR Shatin to Central Link project. This project is a 17 km railway line expansion undertaken by MTR in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The project involved construction of 1.8 km twin railway tunnels, a new underground station with interchange facilities, as well as ventilation buildings and shafts in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island—one of the most built-up and busiest commercial areas in the territory.

What is the scope in which you have helped them?

With rail shifting away from traditional modes of engineering, the future of railway lines and metro stations should be a place where engineers design smart cities of the future for population expansion and changing environments. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing that were considered leading edge just a few years ago, are now central to planning and designing infrastructure projects, including rail networks.

This is where Autodesk lends its expertise. The scope in which we have helped rail and logistics companies all over the world is by providing them with comprehensive solutions to deliver projects in time and cost effective ways by minimising rework and miscommunication, providing more actionable insight into projects, and helping accelerate decision-making earlier into the project lifecycle. With governments’ widely mandating the usage of BIM, Autodesk helps companies to adopt BIM on all levels improving day-to-day workflows and delivering more efficient projects.

Railway developers now have access to the tools where they can accurately simulate a variety of situations utilizing the most advanced software available to build highly productive, efficient and sustainable railway networks. Furthermore, they are also able to design and create anything from raw materials, to spare parts and more and ensure that the piece fits in and performs flawlessly.

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