July 20, Factory layout tool collection complements the components. It takes more than a bigger package and new artwork to turn a collection of programs into a suite. It's even more work to take a collection of professional design tools and turn them into a purpose-driven suite. Autodesk has accomplished the latter, with its Factory Design Suite, a surprisingly affordable package that doesn't sacrifice any of the power or control that users of the company's design and presentation products expect from the software. Factory Design Suite combines the architectural and mechanical design abilities of AutoCAD with media creation and presentation tools that are standouts in their own right, and adds an understanding of factory workflows and constraints that must have taken years to compile. The result is a polished set of tools that mesh well and often seamlessly. It's certainly more than the sum of its parts. The common tools of the Autodesk Factory Design Suite fall into three categories: As one might suspect, the former concentrates on the building fabric, while the latter addresses what's inside. After using both of these, and having looked at the general-purpose version of AutoCAD earlier this year, I'm even more impressed than I was: I didn't take into account what it might mean to have a implementation of AutoCAD purpose-built for a particular discipline, but now I get it. In the bulked up versions of the suite, the common design tools are joined by Autodesk Navisworks, which offers advanced project review features that mesh multiformat data with 3D models to perform validation of physical designs, and Autodesk 3ds Max Design, the company's rendering and animation toolset. Further reading Top Server Monitoring Vendors Autodesk Showcase is also a common component of the Factory Design Suites and provides the ability to transform the engineering-focused AutoCAD designs into attractive presentations and visualizations. What really lets the suite live up to its name is the Factory Design Utilities package, which includes a large library of factory-related content including conveyors, robots and similar material handling equipment, the ability to optimize factory layouts in 2D for efficient material flow, and other enhancements that make the suite's tools more factory-oriented. Autodesk offers three configurations of the Factory Design Suite.