Thursday, February 18, 2016

BIM Technology For Foundation Design

In an effort build constructively I’ve collected below two articles which illustrate some of the advantages structural modelling provides even if our shop isn’t currently utilizing each to its full extent.

Detailing rebar lines in concrete is one of the first steps in keeping a building upright and an activity I do daily. Detailing becomes a challenge when 1) the complexity of the structure and 2) demand for a comprehensive design increases. The linked article follows VK Architects and Engineers through their advanced structural modelling workflow and as one can see the results are impressive. Of most use to the structural engineering community are the 2D views which track and specify the position and type of reinforcement to be used and can be critical for certain types of building permits and construction documents (depending on jurisdiction). The automatic creation of reinforcement schedules is also welcomed. The other views provided by BIM software, while perhaps not making it onto the final sheets, are of no less value. The ability to visually distinguish reinforcement categories in 3D, plan or section allows the designer to quickly orient themselves in regard to the scope of work. The 3D views especially capture the intricate layering of the rebar.

Designing foundation piles, while not strictly part of my job, does hinge on the engineers’ ability to establish the geometry and static forces of the pile. But thereafter this information goes to the pile manufacture to actually design the pile dimensions necessary to resist said forces. The reason the industry is structured like this, to the best of my understanding, is because pile design, like other engineering disciplines, requires very specific knowledge (and perhaps software) to complete. That interface between engineering disciplines becomes crucial to avoiding extensive pre/post-processing and rework. In the linked article’s example, the ability to do calculations in Excel – where engineers are most likely most comfortable - and then smoothly bring those changes back into the model can save a lot of time and increase accuracy. Not a lot of deals in life can achieve both so please raise a glass and toast BIM technology!

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