Software plays big role in HK projects

AUTOCAD software has been used by several architectural and construction firms in Hong Kong on some of the territory's best-known infrastructure projects.

Gammon Constructions, for example, has used the software on some of the major landmark projects it has undertaken in the territory over the years.

They include the construction of the Exchange Square complex; the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club clubhouse; the Tsing Ma Bridge; Container Terminal 8; the Yau Ma Tei replacement typhoon shelter; the Peninsula Hotel extension; and the Standard Chartered Bank building.

Gammon data processing manager Alfred Wat said the company used more than 30 copies of AutoCAD in three departments involved in design.

Foremost of the three departments that used AutoCAD was the civil engineering design division, he said. This department handled local internal and external jobs.

The other two major AutoCAD users were the Gammon foundation design department, and the firm's workshop in Sha Tin at which products were designed for internal use.

'Ever since we established our headquarters in Hong Kong in 1958, we have concentrated on developing our expertise in several core areas including design and construction, building, civil engineering and foundation works,' Mr Wat said.

Hong Kong was a 'living monument' to the skilful, professional approach of Gammon, which has successfully completed projects ranging from power stations, airports, roads and bridges and underground railways to offices, industrial buildings and apartment blocks.

The same skills were now being focused on large infrastructural, construction and engineering projects throughout Asia, in countries including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The company had about eight years' experience using AutoCAD. It started with two-dimensional AutoCAD screens, but quickly expanded its use of the product.

'AutoCAD helps us have a better productive business, especially our architects or clients, and we as a builders, and communications are enhanced because of the use of the product,' Mr Wat said.

'I think the development of AutoCAD is relatively good, because the versions keep on getting upgraded, from AutoCAD Release 10, 11, 12 and now 13.' He said Gammon used to use AutoCAD in a UNIX operating system environment, but because of the power of PCs based on Intel's Pentium microprocessor, it upgraded and standardised all its CAD stations under the Intel environment.

AutoCAD tended to be the standard CAD application used by all the organisations Gammon works for, with the exception of Hong Kong's Provisional Airport Authority, Mr Wat said.

Although AutoCAD had a big share of the CAD market, Mr Wat said more could be done to promote the use of the technology.

'I think if we want more users to use AutoCAD, we need to promote the product from the university and college level to help engineers to start using AutoCAD while they are in college,' he said. 'This way, when they go out to work they can be more used to the product. As companies, we are want experienced CAD users to join us.' He predicted that competition between AutoCAD and rival products would continue, but could not see a definitive winner in the race to control the CAD market.

'There are some add-on products for all softwares,' he said. 'The outcome really depends on future developments [in the CAD industry].' Exhibitions such as the AutoCAD Resource Show were an ideal way of promoting the product in the region and keeping users abreast of developments in the technology, he said.