Collaboration, Speed, and Accuracy: Three Reasons Structural Engineers Choose 3D Modeling

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For engineering firms, project profitability depends on effective collaboration, speed, and accuracy. Find out how 3D modeling tools like Tekla Structures can make your firm more competitive and successful.

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Even though many engineering projects still deliver 2D drawings as the final product, a growing number of design projects are now adopting 3D building information models (BIMs). Engineers can use 3D models to import architectural plans directly into their applications and begin their phase of the work. 

As soon as engineers can access the 3D BIM, they can start taking advantage of its features and automation functions. Beyond the engineering staff, clients find 3D models more accessible and attractive. 

Just as drawings are easier for clients to relate to than specifications, 3D models depict structures more realistically, delivering more accuracy and thoroughness. Throughout the project, diverse stakeholders all prefer to visualize structures in three dimensions.

That’s why so many of today’s construction professionals prefer, and sometimes insist on, 3D models to structure project communication. 

Benefits of 3D Modeling for Structural Engineers 

Accuracy and Speed

When structural engineers try working with 3D models, they’re impressed by the time they’ve saved. Automated tasks eliminate repetitive work and costly mistakes. For example, project teams can use the software to produce automatic columns, beam schedules, and detailed rebar schedules.

In addition to the time saved, the resulting 3D model is clearer, and stakeholders relate to it more directly. As a result, everyone involved more clearly understands the model, the project plan, the status, and the next steps.

Teams can also save enormous amounts of time by deriving drawings straight from the BIM. Instead of devoting endless hours to drawing production, and then recreating drawings to represent change orders, the model can generate up-to-date drawings on demand.

In addition to the time saved, engineers are confident they’re working with the most up-to-date versions of drawings, and that all team members have the same revisions. Whenever someone updates the 3D model, the system updates all applicable drawings.

Profitability

In a professional services industry like engineering, time really is money. The more effectively teams can use their time, the more profitable an engineering firm becomes. By leveraging the time saved by 3D models, firms become more competitive, enabling them to take on more projects, meet strict deadlines and provide better value to their clients.

Using 3D modeling, engineering firms can keep up with the pace of change. Meanwhile, similar competition is driving 3D BIM applications to become more powerful and more competitively priced. The software isn’t just for multinational engineering conglomerates anymore. It now caters to the needs of engineering firms across the board.

Collaboration

The advantages of 3D modeling software go beyond the walls of the engineering office. They enhance collaboration by all project stakeholders throughout the entire construction project lifecycle.

Since structural engineers function after the initial planning and design but before construction and implementation, they are ideally positioned to improve project collaboration. Structural engineers are often the focal point for information flows between project stakeholders.

A 3D BIM can become the single source of truth for everyone involved in the project. It provides a common interface to which all team members can relate. Structural engineers can use the 3D model to import architectural plans, perform their own design tasks, and then export their design to rebar detailers and other project players.

The live 3D model, containing the very latest revisions, becomes an online collaboration platform for everyone from the engineering office to the concrete contractors. This facilitates real-time input sharing, review, mark-up and comments on designs, drawings, and reports. 

Working with a single BIM enables collaboration between companies, occupations, and even time zones toward the common goal of effective project management. Successful collaboration reduces confusion, delay, and rework.

Visual Representation

Because of the size and scale of civil engineering projects, planning and testing opportunities are limited compared to some other engineering disciplines. For most construction tasks, iterative design using trial and error is not an option. 

Structural engineers can use 3D modeling to draw the connection between the vision and the completed structure to help everyone get things right the first time. A 3D BIM is a virtual, but precise, depiction of how the building will look and how its occupants will experience it. 

Using extensive data resources, a 3D model represents the structure and all its components in clear detail. When engineers and their colleagues on project teams can spatially visualize the planned building with precision, including options and scenarios, 3D models facilitate discussions and problem-solving as the project progresses.

Find out more about improving project collaboration, speed, and accuracy using Tekla Structures by contacting BuildingPoint today.

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