AutoCAD helps Canada’s top office furniture design company


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Courtesy of Teknion.

Award-winning office furniture company relies on AutoCAD to turn workplaces into workspaces.

With the goal to position itself as “the total office solution,” flexibility is central to the design concepts of Teknion’s modular desks and workstations—including cubicles, cabinets, desks, storage units, seating, and movable walls—for the middle to upscale workplace furniture market. Teknion not only builds what it designs, but also creates the assembly guides and installs its furniture using AutoCAD.

Furniture that works wherever you work

Teknion was founded as a systems furniture brand, selling the parts of a whole workspace as a package for furnishing offices. Since its inception in 1983, Teknion has led the way in its industry, creating “furniture systems that work for office settings.” Instead of having warehouses full of inventory waiting for people to order, Teknion sells through dealerships that present options for customers to choose from and then manufactures. Today, Teknion has approximately 3-million square feet of facilities, including manufacturing plants, showrooms, corporate headquarters, and sales offices with more than 3,000 employees worldwide.

In recent years, the explosive growth of co-working spaces and the changing nature of the workplace has had a dramatic impact on the office furniture market. Historically, there used to be clear delineations in the marketplace, in which low-, mid-, and high-end manufacturers didn’t compete against one another. Now, the distinctions are blurred with the market driven primarily by price and value.

One of Teknion’s modern accessory storage solutions. Courtesy of Teknion.

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Teknion has been able to adapt to these shifts by partnering with architects and designers from around the world and making its designs publicly available on its website as AutoCAD files. It’s from this library of files that a company can create layouts to show customers what is possible, and dealers can write up specification sheets and build materials to provide customers with pricing.

Creating intuitive installation guides

Because Teknion’s furniture is designed to work as both stand-alone products and within a configurable system, installation is a critical element of the brand’s differentiation. Each of Teknion’s hundreds of thousands of furniture pieces is delivered with an installation guide in the box for one of its installers to assemble the furniture onsite.

Mini Bag Drop in 3D (left) and final, assembled product (right). Courtesy of Teknion.

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Creating these installation guides takes a team of eight people, collectively known as graphical assets specialists. “We work with the engineers to understand the products and which screws and bolts go in to which pilot holes,” explains Leah Brown, graphical assets specialist, Teknion. “We draw that out in AutoCAD with text, dimensions, and all the other elements required to finish the installation guide.”

Using AutoCAD, the team can easily handoff work that is in progress amongst each other. “It's usually fairly straightforward because we all use the same standards,” Brown says. “We're given a manual and told what layer to put on which kind of furniture and the line types we use.” Subsequently, on average, it only takes about a week to complete an installation guide, which launches every four months with the release of a new line of furniture.

Putting it all together

Brown’s team also creates 2D and 3D symbols of all of Teknion’s furniture to place within a floor plan for visualizing spaces. “Teknion is leading when it comes to AutoCAD symbols,” says Daven Ursua, graphical assets specialist, Teknion. “Our symbols rarely come with errors, and that comes from years of experience on the team, making sure all our processes work correctly and our workflow is efficient.”

One example of the team’s efficient way of working is coding a script using Excel with AutoCAD. “Say we had to make sure that all the symbols are zoomed in properly,” Brown says. “A single catalog can have 80,000 pieces of furniture and to do that manually would take forever. I just drag the coding script into AutoCAD and it allows us to run those symbols overnight or over the weekend, so we don't have to do it manually. And then it's done when we get back and it's great.”

Bench in 3D (left) and final, assembled product (right). Courtesy of Teknion.

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In the last couple of years, Teknion has also expanded its library of assets to Revit. “With the way architects and planners are starting to use Revit as a powerful BIM modeling tool, they expect that our models not only can be accessed in AutoCAD and through specific dealers, but also accessed natively through Revit,” Ursua explains. “Some clients want actual materials placed on the furniture, and that's when Revit becomes very useful because we support all of our symbols that we build natively with materials.”

“Customers say they appreciate our models being at a certain fidelity so they can see the furniture in a space with great clarity and be able to change it on the fly,” Ursua continues. “So, AutoCAD and Revit definitely add to Teknion being able to support the customers' needs.”

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