Factory Design Utilities: Getting Started with Software You Already Have

21 March 2023AutoCAD, autodesk, Inventor, ManufacturingApplied Software, autocad, autodesk, Factory Design, factory design utilities, Inventor, Navisworks, Product Design & Manufacturing, recap



Factory Design Utilities software lets you plan and validate factory layouts for efficient equipment placement to improve production performance. It’s available only as part of the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection. Many times, companies have software available to use, but there is not enough time to investigate how to use it. Factory Design Utilities (FDU) is a great example of this.

Although created to validate factory layouts, it can be used for much more. An example is using FDU to lay out office space for your company. When using FDU in AutoCAD, it is very similar to users having blocks representing each component and arranging them in the desired location. In fact, FDU in AutoCAD uses standard AutoCAD blocks that have been turned into what FDU calls assets. Inventor works very similarly, except the assets are Inventor part and assembly files that have been turned into assets.

Learn about Inventor features and benefits in the Applied Software, Graitec Group “Ultimate Guide to Autodesk Inventor.”

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To start getting set up, sign into your Autodesk account to download the software if you have not already done this. You can use this website:


Once logged in, select “All Products and Services” from the list on the left side.

This will list all the software you are allowed to install. To get up and running with the minimum benefits of FDU, you should start with installing Inventor Professional and AutoCAD Mechanical. To take full advantage of FDU you should install Navisworks Manage and ReCap Pro. Navisworks allows you to perform walk- and fly-throughs of your facility layout along with clash detection, and ReCap is the point cloud software. Once this software is installed you will want to install the Factory Design Utilities, which will add functionality to each of the options mentioned above. In the software list you will see the Factory Design Utilities, and it will look like this:

Once FDU is installed and you open the Inventor or AutoCAD software, you will have a new ribbon called Factory to work from. The Inventor Factory ribbon will look like this:

The AutoCAD/AutoCAD Mechanical ribbon will look like this:

Additionally, Inventor will have a new template to use when creating a factory layout called “StandardFactoryLayout.iam” and will look like this when you select New:

When working in AutoCAD/AutoCAD Mechanical, you will use the same workflows you have been using to start new layouts.

Factory Design Utilities is a bi-directional workflow, so you can start in either software and sync/open in the other software. For example, if you start in the Inventor software, you will click the New option and select StandardFactoryLayout.iam from the list. This will start a new file with geometry that represents a factory floor and activate the Factory ribbon. The Model Browser will look the same as any Inventor assembly file.

This document will not delve into the workflows of how to use the software and features of FDU, but you would use the Asset Browser to add the assets mentioned earlier. The Asset Browser is a standalone dialog that can be docked as desired and allows you to drag and drop them into your assembly. Here is a default out-of-the-box look of a typical Asset Browser:

There are System Assets that come with the software. Assets can be local or cloud-based. Additionally, you can publish custom assets to your User Assets folder. Additional user asset folders can be created as desired.

Now that the foundation for using Factory Design Utilities has been detailed, start using it and practice with creating layouts using the System Assets. As you get comfortable with the software and workflows you will be creating your own assets as you need them. Create a practice project in the Inventor software and have fun trying this out for yourself. Remember, Factory Design Utilities is bi-directional. If you feel more comfortable starting with the AutoCAD/AutoCAD Mechanical software, use that workflow instead of Inventor.

You can learn more about Factory Design Utilities and see a demo in the 2023 on-demand webinar featuring Todd Schmoock and Jason Flores.


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