Introducing the Android BIM 360 Layout App

October 15, 2019 Zach Crumal

The use of mobile devices on construction sites is on the rise and the need for sophisticated apps to support various workflows is critical. In fact, more than 62% of construction workers report using tablets on a daily basis. Having apps that are integrated into a unified workflow and simplify daily tasks is essential to meeting the demanding needs of teams and ensuring they can work more efficiently.Expanding on the use of mobile devices on jobsites, we are thrilled to introduce a new BIM 360 Layout app that is compatible with Android devices and is fully integrated into the BIM 360 platform. 


Traditionally construction layout has been a manual process of taking coordinates out of a model by doing measurements or takeoffs and then sending those coordinates out to a Robotic Total Station, like TopCon or Leica. With the introduction of Autodesk Point Layout, teams were able to start saving more time by automating this workflow. 

But with the newest release of the BIM 360 Layout app for Android, teams can take layout workflows a step further by speeding up the time it takes to layout points on a jobsite, increasing the accuracy of the points, and promoting collaboration across a unified common data platform. 

Helix Electric, a nationally recognized contractor, is continually seeking to find ways to improve productivity of installation and quality of electrical systems. With this vision in mind, Robert Boggs, a Project Coordinator and Total Station Operator at Helix, started to adopt the use of BIM 360 Layout on his projects and is excited about the newest release of the Android app. 

“I think that the connectivity with the Layout mobile app for Android could be the next big innovation in layout workflows,” says Boggs. “Having freedom to select a durable tablet and being able to interact in real time is definitely the future.”

In the spirit of getting to the ‘point’ are some of the key highlights of the new BIM 360 Layout Android app: 


“Having freedom to select a durable tablet and being able to interact in real time is definitely the future.”

Robert Boggs, Project Coordinator and Total Station Operator, Helix



Connected to a Unified Cloud Platform 

With accessibility to documents and drawings through the cloud-based Document Management module in BIM 360, teams can ensure everyone always has the most upto-date versions and are all working off of a single source of truth. This means that when you are syncing all of your coordination points to a Robotic Total Station or GPS, you guarantee it is pulling data from the most current version. 

By leveraging a unified cloud platform, teams are also able to improve collaboration. With the BIM 360 Layout Android app, you can create issues directly from your mobile device while out on a jobsite. Those issues are then synced back into the platform for visibility by other team members whether they are in the office or field.  

“It’s nice to be able to update a model in real time without having to make anyone wait,” recounts Boggs. “Before using the BIM 360 Layout app, I would have to find a computer, make changes to the model, update a thumb drive, and transfer the files. Now I can make changes instantly which is a huge time saver.”

In addition, by leveraging a connection through the unified platform, the BIM 360 Layout app also helps as-built teams to collect real-world conditions while out in the field and bring that information back into the model. From there, teams can create deviation reports and update models based on those real-world conditions.


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Robotic Total Station Are Great, But Not Necessary 

Robotic Total Stations, like the ones created by TopCon or Leica, are the most accurate technology that can be used for layout and gives millimeter level of accuracy. With this level of precision comes the minimization of any issues or RFI’s that would occur downstream during construction. That alone is a great reason to use this technology which is why it is critical for the BIM 360 Layout app to have a streamlined connection to these total stations. 

With the robust technology built into TopCon or Leica Robotic Total Stations however comes more complex and expensive equipment. This is why we are really excited to introduce the ability to use the BIM 360 Layout app to connect directly to other GPS devices, whether it is an external GPS system or NMEA data format-supported hardware to even as easy as using the GPS in a mobile phone. 


Increasing Layout Speed

With the new features built into the BIM 360 Layout app, teams have the ability to use  the “what’s nearest routine” which will take all of the coordinate location data to guide the surveyor on the most productive and efficient route for conducting layout. It’s like the Waze for layout, optimizing the fastest journey and giving teams back the time they need to focus on other critical tasks. 

One of the best parts about using the BIM 360 Layout app is that it gives access to everyone on the team. Traditionally, layout tasks had to be done by one or two trained individuals like Total Station Surveyors, who had access to the siloed point information and knew how to operate the complex layout equipment. With the new Android app, everyone on the team can collaborate across the unified platform and it helps simplify layout workflows overall.  

“We are starting to train a lot of our Project Engineers on the jobsite on how to do basic point layout so that more people are able to help perform simple layout tasks,” says Boggs.

With more hands comes less work and faster layout! 


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The Benefits of Android

The decision to focus on the Android operating system was easy as there are a lot of benefits to using not only the technology built by android but also the durability of their devices. One of the key benefits advantages of Android is that it allows us to connect the app to the hardware directly via long range bluetooth. Jobsites don’t always have wifi connections and the ability to connect remotely is huge so that the person doing the layout doesn’t always need to be physically next to the total station or GPS device. 

As mentioned above, Android devices are also more ruggedized which is ideal for working outside on jobsites in various conditions. Android devices, like tablets, also tend to have longer battery life and less technical issues overall. 


Not Just Vertical Construction 

Some of the biggest layout users are MEP contractors who typically have the more complicated layout plans on a jobsite and can have anywhere from 50 - 100,000 locations that they need to layout perfectly. 

With the new features built into the BIM 360 Layout Android app we are now able to expand our product capabilities to meet the needs of civil and infrastructure projects including large scale roadways, bridges, and railways. In addition these enhanced capabilities like bluetooth connectivity and GPS syncing opens up the opportunity to expand into even bigger industries like oil and gas. 


Compatible Integrations

In order to meet the needs of a more holistic layout workflow, the BIM 360 Layout app has the ability to integrate directly with other tools like Leica and Topcon. Through the Document Management module, teams can push document and drawings including Revit or AutoCAD files with the coordinate level detail, directly into Topcon or Leica systems. Click here to see a complete list of those integrations.

We know the layout workflow during construction is a key step in delivering a project on time and within budget. So the more tools you have to support this workflow, the more likely teams will output a positive project outcome. 

Although Boggs didn’t have any hard numbers to support the positive results of using the BIM 360 Layout app, he did say that, “I often hear people on the jobsite say things like ‘yea this just saved me four guys on the deck and a whole bunch of money’. I can tell you that everyone from our team that has used it is a huge fan.”

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