Seamless Integration

How Graitec has helped Staircraft Group to bring its staircase and floor products to market as part of a fully-featured building designs

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Seamless Integration

Context

Founded in 1985, Staircraft designs and manufactures building products, such as staircases, floorkits I-joists, doorkits and painted profiles from three facilities in the Midlands. Today, they are the World’s largest stair manufacturer, supplying upwards of 1,400 timber staircases into the building industry every week, manufacturing and supplying timber i-joist floor kits and a range of other structural and joinery products.

Challenge

The company supplies all the top 20 national housebuilders in the country on a regular basis and a growing number of regional housebuilders. It uses in-house software to design the floors and licenses stair software from a German company known as Compass which it then adapts for use in the UK. In recent years, Staircraft has seen a key new trend emerging in the marketplace – a growing proportion of the larger housebuilders, and increasingly architects, are starting to move over to Autodesk® Revit® building information modelling software for building design, visualisation and analysis.

This presented Staircraft with a challenge and an opportunity, it needed to find a way of creating links between Revit and the output that is generated from its stair and floor design software. But it was also imperative that the link would allow housebuilders and architects to take the floor and staircase design output, drop it into their own drawings and check for dimensional fit and tolerances. The difficulty Staircraft had was, little in-depth knowledge of Revit and neither of its core software packages had a native Revit output function in them.

 

Solution

In response, Staircraft decided to look for a partner and quickly started working with Graitec, an Autodesk Platinum Reseller, and developer of pioneering applications and software covering a multitude of disciplines and market sectors including manufacturing (MFG) architectural, engineering & construction (AEC), infrastructure (ENI) and media & entertainment (M&E) industries.

Dr Luke Whale, Technical Director, Staircraft said: “It was key to us that Graitec were both expert resellers of Autodesk solutions and also had their own internal software development team. Critically, they were able to demonstrate the capability to export data from both our stair design and floor design software and from those outputs, create native fully functional Revit models just like architects would have drawn for themselves. That clinched the deal for us and we took the decision to appoint Graitec. They have proven to be a great company to work with throughout the project and have been very flexible and accommodating in making changes when required as the work has evolved.”

Thanks in part to the software development work that Graitec has carried out, architects, housebuilders and designers can now access fully 3D-rendered output of their stair designs and floor designs which they can drag and drop into their building drawings to visualise how they look and check if they fit and integrate with the rest of the model. Graitec has subsequently also developed a Revit plug-in which Staircraft provides to its customers, enabling them to pull stair and floor models directly into their Revit models.

Staircraft works closely in partnership with its customers to address and tackle any issues they may have. It runs forums every six months, which are typically attended by the top 20 housebuilding companies that are using Revit. At these events, Staircraft addresses the functionality these organisations already have and reviews if anything else is needed. Staircraft also participates in a newly established building information modelling (BIM) working group, involving major housebuilders that are using Revit, which has been set up to play its part in helping the design process go smoothly. That group is growing fast because every year, Staircraft sees two or three more house building companies switching over to Autodesk Revit from Autodesk® AutoCAD®.

While most of the work for the current Revit project has been completed, tweaks and amendments to the approach continue to be made all the time whenever the working group of building companies feeds information to Staircraft on what features it would like to add.

 

Seamless Integration | Graitec - UK

Tarrant from Howard Bros added: “We value our staff, who have a wide range of specialist skills, and in order to ensure that these skills are relevant within the everchanging environment in which we operate. We can utilise custom and proprietary training schemes such as Global eTraining to ensure our staff are up-to-date with the latest Autodesk methods, technologies, and legislation. Our business partnership with Graitec and the use of Global eTraining has supported business growth not only in terms of turnover but also providing a platform for continual development of our staff.”

Global eTraining is now a key element of what is robust trust-based relationship between Graitec and Howard Bros. As the latter’s use of Autodesk software has evolved, Graitec has been with them every step of the way. Graitec’s technical support and sales team guided Howard Bros through the Autodesk licence transition from a maintenance plan to subscription. Howard Bros is now fully transitioned using their Autodesk Account to manage licence distribution, easily switching users and products to suit its business needs. Graitec has also provided technical drawing services which Howard Bros have taken advantage of during times where Howard Bros’s internal capacity is overloaded.

During the current pandemic, Graitec has been instrumental in providing support and back up behind a new set of point products developed by Howard Bros, consisting of Tea Point, Copy Point, Meeting Point, Coat Point, Notice Point, Rest Point and Media Point. This product range provides end customers with a complete ‘turn-key’ solution for their service areas within the office environment. These solutions require minimal input from other trades adding to its suitability for use within the current working environment, considering social distancing protocols. Also, the use of materials with anti-microbial properties assists with achieving transmission neutral zones within communal areas.

Graitec are always available, supporting Howard Bros on these products and on other designs that are also developed using Autodesk software like Inventor® and AutoCAD®. As Tarrant acknowledges: “There is always a new feature or process which requires assistance from a technical guru. Graitec are always there to help and provide insightful advice in a timely manner.”