Trimble Emphasizes Content—And It Has A Warehouse Full
Roopinder Tara posted on December 31, 2018 |

Every two years, Trimble puts on a show to highlight its continued growth in the building and construction technology. It’s been two years since the last Dimensions.

Who Is Trimble?

Trimble Inc. was started in 1978 by Charles Trimble, who left HP with the idea that he could determine precise locations on Earth using the satellite network for civilians. Previously, it was something only the military could do. In 1989, Trimble acquired the New Zealand company, Datacom, and seriously got into software. Steve Berglund took over the reins in 1998. The company made $2.6 billion in revenue in 2017. It has more than 9,500 employees, more than half are outside the U.S., and a portfolio of over 500 products.

We get buildings, from breaking ground to finish and even ownership, according to Trimble. (Image courtesy of Trimble.)
We get buildings, from breaking ground to finish and even ownership, according to Trimble. (Image courtesy of Trimble.)
Trimble takes a holistic approach to buildings, starting from the ground they are built on, to their design, construction and onto the long game of ownership. Architecture, engineering, construction and ownership (AECO) is plagued by waste, 10 percent of materials are wasted, according to Trimble; rework, 30 percent; low productivity, 40 percent of work on a site is unproductive; and budget overruns,40 percent of projects are over budget. And, they are always late, at least 90 percent of the time. Building owners overcoming the previously mentioned headaches are then faced with buildings that at are only used up to 40 percent capacity. Overall, it is an industry in need of some adult supervision and software vendors, including Trimble, Autodesk and Bentley.

It’s All About Content

We have content. Over 8 million parts from over 350 manufacturers, says Trimble (Picture courtesy of Trimble)
We have content. Over 8 million parts from over 350 manufacturers, says Trimble (Picture courtesy of Trimble)
This year, more than ever, Trimble Dimensions is about content.

Modeling a building or a construction site means populating it with thousands of objects. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could drag and drop them from a model library? What if there was one so big you were certain to find what you wanted, be it furniture, fixtures or fire extinguishers? Welcome to the 3D Warehouse. 

Filled with millions of parts, the Warehouse was started by a SketchUp when it was owned by @Last. SketchUp users quickly uploaded models they made and generously shared with others. SketchUp was bought by Google and then sold to Trimble in 2012. Google maintained the 3D Warehouse until recently, when Trimble was able to get enough cloud storage to move the part library into.

According to Trimble 30 content engineers are churning out and testing high level of detail, smart MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) parts to be used in building designed by Revit. They also note that over 350 manufacturers have made their product catalogs available to Trimble subscribers.

Keeping the Dinosaurs

A construction and surveying company buying the massive part library may have worried 3D Warehouse regulars. Won't Trimble throw out the parts its customers have no use for? Fear not, said Jon Fingland, general manager of collaboration solutions at Trimble. “We think of children and hobbyists [big users of 3D Warehouse] as future customers. Besides, my daughter would me very mad if she couldn’t download the dinosaurs.”

For professional (SketchUp Pro) users, we add meta data to the parts to make them more useful, says Roz Buick, vice president of the Buildings Division at Trimble, who was once again on hand to explain what her people have been up to. For example, a part can have weight, cost, mating information and more. It’s more than just geometry. She also pointed to content, one of the three Cs—constructible, connected and content-enabled—a theme for Dimensions 2018, for which 3D Warehouse is an integral part.

While the SketchUp Warehouse was free (thanks, Google), Trimble plans on charging for parts, at least the smart ones.

Growth by Acquisition

Trimble has been on an acquisition spree, collecting Tekla for steel and concrete construction, Vico for visualizing and Sefaira for AEC simulation. In 2012, it bought the lovable SketchUp, which immediately made it the No. 1 vendor for 3D AEC software in the world. The challenge of making a hodge-podge collection of applications, each with their own interface and data format, would be a challenge for any vendor. On top of it, Trimble is adding its own software to help users connect and collaborate.

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