CAD Creation and Conversion
According to a 2014 survey, more than half of companies currently outsource design and construction activities, with 17 percent of companies planning to outsource these services in the future. This trend is expected to continue in 2016 and beyond as firms look for ways to reduce construction costs. The explosion of global infrastructure development will continue to drive the increase in outsourced CAD drafting and conversion. It’s not only corporations that seek CAD services, but also subcontractors and independent professionals like architects and engineers.
Improved CAD programs.
CAD software and programs are rapidly changing to become more user-friendly and accessible.
However, some firms lack the resources to upgrade their CAD systems every few months and train in-house drafters to use the new programs. Many businesses will continue to outsource CAD technology solutions and staffing to third parties to reduce costs and keep up with industry trends. Complex design services are more likely to be sent to local and near-shore CAD service providers, however, while CAD support work is expected to be absorbed by established offshore providers in the Philippines, India, and Eastern Europe.
Another trend that’s going to be big this year is increased CAD design customization by clients and consumers. Companies are no longer at the mercy of drafters for the final design; as CAD software becomes easier to use, clients can now make alterations to the designs themselves while in collaboration with outsourced technicians.
Rise of mobile and cloud-based CAD services.
Designers and technicians have more options than ever when it comes to CAD software. Manufacturers are boosting memory and processing power of tablets and mobile devices to run intensive applications. For example, AutoCAD360 is intended to run on tablets. Designers can now work on projects away from the office. Many designers are also using cloud-based CAD software provided by third party firms.
Quantity Estimation and Architecture Services
In 2016 and the coming years, outsourced quantity takeoffs, cost estimation and other construction services will remain popular alternatives to performing these services in house and hiring full-time professionals. The main drivers of outsourcing activity are cost-reduction, access to more efficient tools and access to low-cost expertise. As construction costs continue to rise, companies are expected to look for other ways to keep spending in check while ensuring high quality service delivery.
Many global pre-construction projects have been successfully executed with the help of third party cost estimation firms and construction service providers. Industry experts predict that outsourcing will grow further in the next few years, but service providers will have to take better ownership of outsourced work and maintain high-quality work. As longs as outsourcing providers continue to offer the benefits of economies of scale and improved process efficiency, quantity estimation outsourcing will always be relevant.
BIM software for facilities management.
Building information modeling software is transforming the construction industry by improving efficiency and reducing costs. BIM improves collaboration among in-house and external team members, managers, contractors, subcontractors and stakeholders. BIM also simplifies space management, system and facilities maintenance and energy management. For example, BIM tools can analyze energy use of a building and monitor electrical equipment.
In 2016, more companies will use BIM software for facilities management, especially for large, complex projects that require a comprehensive modeling approach. More facility managers will explore the use of BIM software that can be integrated into building automation systems to increase energy efficiency. Companies will tend to work with existing third party providers rather than seek new partnerships. For firms outsourcing BIM for the first time, vendor selection will depend on technological capabilities and value for money.
3D printing has evolved from a novelty trend to an effective solution with real-world benefits.
Looking back on 2015, 3D printers have greatly improved in terms of speed, quality and features. While still far from mainstream adoption, industry experts predict that 3D printing will continue to grow in the next 20 years. There will be more materials that can be printed, printing speed will greatly improve, and new models will emerge to print and assemble product parts.
Research and consultancy firm Gartner reported that 3D printable materials will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 64.1 percent until 2019, which will push companies to exploit 3D printing in their supply chain processes. Demand for 3D printers will increase in the aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, medical, military and energy sectors. However, enterprise 3D printers are not expected to become cheaper due to improvements in quality, which will increase the demand for third party providers offering innovative 3D printing services.
The construction and architecture industries started going paperless many years ago, but more companies will hop on the digital transformation trend in 2016 and the coming years. Contracts, blueprints, paper drawings and other documents are being scanned and digitized for easy access and management.
The global engineering service outsourcing market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25.78 from 2012 to 2016. Companies will continue to partner with engineering service providers this year to achieve their business goals. One of biggest drivers for the rise in engineering outsourcing activity is the need to reduce costs. Both large and small firms require processes, technology, talent and support that third party firms can provide cost-effectively. Intellectual property issues will remain a challenge to the growth of this segment in the coming years. In particular, companies that send work to offshore locations will be forced to increase their vigilance to prevent IP theft.
Other trends that will influence engineering outsourcing campaigns in 2016:
Increased R&D spending.
Embedded electronics and software have led to a huge increase in R&D spending, with a great number of products becoming smarter every day. Research and development (R&D) will continue to be one of the most commonly outsourced engineering services in 2016. Outsourced R&D allows companies to launch products faster at lower costs. In the automotive and aerospace sectors, more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will partner with engineering service providers because of shrinking budgets and the need to focus on critical R&D activities. Engineering service providers will extend their software development capabilities and improve embedded product intelligence to attract innovation-minded clients.
The industry’s growing interest in engineering outsourcing is also being driven by the convergence of big data, mobility, analytics and cloud services. Valuable insights can be gained from analyzing data from smart devices and products, and engineering service providers will be at the forefront of the big data and analytics wave. Companies will turn to engineering providers for big data warehousing, new analytics platforms and skilled data scientists.
Rise of global engineering centers.
Engineering centers continue to emerge in Asia and Eastern Europe, indicating a consistent demand to leverage global engineering talent. Increased mass consumption of products from the consumer electronics, software and high tech sectors is also opening up opportunities for global manufacturers, who are increasingly relying on third parties to improve speed to market.
Advanced machine learning
Advanced machine learning refers to deep neural nets (DNNs) that can create systems that perceive the world autonomously. It sounds like something that belongs in the far rather than near future, but advanced machine learning is a reality that businesses are starting to leverage. Information coming from devices, the Internet and other sources are only expected to rise, requiring DNNs to automate tasks like data sorting, classification and analysis to cut costs and reduce dependence on highly-paid workers. According to a Gartner study, organizations should evaluate how they can apply this game-changing technology to drive competitiveness. This year, more engineering service providers will latch on to opportunities presented by advanced machine learning and start to build up their capabilities in this area.
Robots and autonomous devices.
Closely related to the machine learning trend is the rise of robots and autonomous devices. Devices will become more intelligent in the coming years. This includes vehicles, manufacturing equipment, wearables, virtual assistants (think Siri and Cortana 5.0) and virtual consultants. Software-based devices are expected to have a broader impact on the industry rather than physical machines like robots. Experts recommend that IT leaders explore how they can exploit robots and agents to free human workers to do what only humans can do. Engineering service firms that provide companies with the right automation tools will be highly sought after.
Increased outsourcing of business-critical functions.
Traditionally, outsourced engineering services tend to be low-level functions that are not core to the business. However, rising costs and the need for innovation will push companies to outsource more business-critical activities. As buyers grow more confident in the ability of third party firms to provide differentiation through advanced technology solutions, this trend will continue in 2016.
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