Apr 07, 2022

Collaborative approach: Sensible use of 3D models for steel structures

  • Article
  • 3D models
  • Collaborative approach
  • smartplant
  • BIM
  • structure

The world of construction has been profoundly transformed by the arrival of 3D structural modelling software on the market. Everyone has started producing 3D models, each for themselves and for their own needs.

  1. In structural engineering, most projects are performed using the conventional method: a 3D analysis model and a 3D design model to generate 2D engineering drawings.

  2. Since the design software cannot transmit CNC data (machine language) to equipment (e.g., Beam line), manufacturers must recreate a 3D model using specialized software and prepare assembly drawings for the erector.

  3. Result: Clients pay multiple times for a 3D model of their steel structure.

    At first, technological limitations provided no other way to do this. But now, we can transfer 3D models from one software program to another. Despite this, various 3D models are still being created for the same steel structure! Why? I’m afraid it’s out of habit!

    How can 3D software be used in the right place, at the right time and in the right way to offer clients the best technical service in the most efficient way and at the best cost?

    The solution: the paperless collaborative approach

    The paperless collaborative approach has two options:

    1. Option 1: The Structural team transmits their 3D model directly to the manufacturer without 2D drawings. The “For tender” and “For construction” releases then occur much more quickly in the process, because 2D drawings do not need to be produced. Specialized software is required for proper transfer with a manufacturer.
    2. Option 2: The Structural team works directly with the manufacturer on a shared 3D model through a virtual network. Engineers and manufacturers can then work simultaneously on the same 3D model (multi-user mode), without 2D drawings! This option means that the manufacturer must be selected at the beginning of the project based on unit prices.

    Eliminating 2D drawings and the bi-directional transfer of 3D models greatly increases overall efficiency. And option 2 is even more efficient!

  4. Significant improved efficiency

    For options 1 and 2, the 3D mechanical, electrical and piping models are inserted in the 3D structural model, allowing manufacturers to design their assemblies by avoiding conflicts directly, not blindly.

    For option 2, manufacturers who join the Structural team from the beginning of the project can influence the design of steel structures by quickly confirming the availability of parts and even reserving them from suppliers. This ensures construction material availability and the proposed completion schedule can be confirmed.

    Both options provide more accurate construction cost monitoring by extracting materials to order (MTO) directly from the model.

    With specialized software, technicians can also increase efficiency when making the many changes required during a feasibility study. Changes during design are no longer seen as a huge amount of work.

    Improving efficiency shortens project schedules.

  5. Does this approach interest you? Contact us. We’ll be happy to tell you more.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA

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