Forge Systems Integrator ekkodale GmbH (formerly CAD-Development) is a software developer that focuses on supporting construction industry companies in their BIM (Building Information Modeling) and digitalization journeys. Based in Germany, ekkodale develops highly customized solutions that help customers optimize internal workflows, manage project information, implement automation of manual processes, and more. From this work, the firm extracts automation and digitalization solutions and develops them further as web solutions, standalone tools, and add-ins that companies can purchase to resolve particular challenges.
In addition to individual solutions, ekkodale has developed leaDE, a platform that focuses on information management in BIM projects. leaDE combines employer’s information requirements (EIR) with web-based access, enabling anyone to provide necessary information at any time throughout the project. Only valid information can be entered—in sync with the owners’ requirements—eliminating fingerpointing during model checking. leaDE works on top of BIM 360 software and utilizes the Forge Viewer API.
Serving building industry stakeholders worldwide, ekkodale’s customers range from huge manufacturers to large design companies, with a primary focus in MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing). ekkodale has a lengthy background in fully automatic and localized BIM content delivery for manufacturers. The firm always tries to push the market forward to provide solid intelligent models, clear processes, and reliable information. ekkodale’s activities cover the complete building lifecycle and include early definitions for EIR and BIM execution plans (BEPs), solutions for BIM modelers, BIM2field and MEP prefabrication, and facility management.
As much of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry worldwide began adopting BIM as standard, ekkodale began exploring the possibilities and benefits of cloud-based BIM-content processing and automatization solutions. While initially meeting resistance from customers—coupled with location-based data-protection regulations—the company gradually began to win over customers and accelerated its search for the most effective ways to take customer projects to the cloud. The Forge platform emerged as the most compelling option, providing scalability, flexibility, and time savings.
How ekkodale solved it with Forge.
Key to the ekkodale team’s approach is the integration of innovative tools into their existing processes. As a small company, resources are limited and the company aims to keep their activity as simple and straightforward as possible, focusing time and money on developing software that does not exist, as opposed to reinventing the wheel. Before embracing this vision, however, the company set about creating its own viewer to enable customers to view 3D models in web-based browsers. Meanwhile, the company explored the Forge Viewer, but the API didn’t fulfill the team’s requirements at that time. Later, ekkodale returned to examine the Forge Viewer after the API had undergone substantial development, and the company realized the Viewer now supported the required additions. Within a couple of weeks, ekkodale had integrated the Viewer API into its processes and the Viewer was up and running, eliminating the need for an in-house viewer.
As a long-time AutoCAD and Revit developer, the team also appreciates the scalability and flexibility that the Forge Design Automation API provides. The firm doesn’t need to purchase, program, and run a room full of desktops to use Revit, as Forge enables the Revit processes to take place in the cloud—lowering cost for both ekkodale and its customers. Also beneficial is that ekkodale can implement every customer workflow on top of Forge. The Forge Model Derivative API enables translation of more than 70 model file formats, which the Viewer API then makes viewable as a 3D model in any web-based browser on any connected device. If there’s a need for custom extensions or automated geometry creation for the Viewer, ekkodale has the necessary experience in webgl-based development, too.
A great example of how Forge has helped ekkodale provide vital solutions for its customers is the case of Frenger SYSTEMEN BV—a German manufacturer of ceiling heating and cooling units. In 2020, Frenger began to receive customer requests for BIM content for its panel units—information for designers to use during modeling. Frenger’s products are the results of calculations based on space heating and cooling requirements. Each solution is unique and has hundreds of thousands of combinations, making manually created BIM content unfeasible, and posing a substantial challenge for Frenger.
In response, ekkodale developed a web-based environment that eliminated the need for locally installed plug-ins on users’ machines. The back end consists of a rule-based decision engine that evaluates users’ input. This input is provided from a web-based front end, which supports a user registration for Frenger’s customers’ BIM designers. Space information and calculation requirements can be entered on a customer project level. When the user starts to process the resulting content, the rules are evaluated and pushed to the Forge Design Automation for Revit API. The Design Automation API then processes the unique Revit content and delivers it via the web interface to the customer for download and usage in projects. With this fully automatic and scalable Forge-based solution, Frenger can provide individual BIM content without a massive investment in human resources and the creation of a BIM team. Previously, Frenger employees had to respond manually to customer requests. Now the company provides individual content delivery 24/7, with no manual processes involved.
The power of the Forge platform has simplified the necessary step of providing a prototype to hesitant ekkodale customers, winning their confidence and enabling the firm to kick off lucrative projects. ekkodale can concentrate on the workflows it wants to implement, whether automation or viewing, and be confident that Forge integrates into almost any customer environment. Additionally, the company can look to the future, and plan based on the idea of moving away from desktop solutions, and more toward cloud-based systems.
Forge highlights include the following:
- Integrates easily into multiple environments, enabling flexibility
- Cut viewer development and integration time from two+ years to two weeks
- Translates 70+ file formats, accessible across all connected devices
“We can implement all of our customers’ workflows on top of the Forge technology. It’s a solid base to build on.”—Tim Hoffeller, Managing Director, ekkodale GmbH
“At Frenger SYSTEMEN BV, we now offer customers a configurator for generating BIM content. Thanks to ekkodale and the Forge platform, planners can generate Revit families on their own at the touch of a button, and work independently of us. This lets them quickly and cost-effectively bring objects into the model, and we save time and resources.”—Klaus Menge, CEO, Frenger SYSTEMEN BV