The following article is excerpted from SIMULATION IN ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION. To read more, download the full white paper here.
PRODUCT, NATURE, AND LIFE IN AEC
These are extraordinary times for civil engineering. Innovative structures such as hyper-loops, undersea hotels and made-to-order 3D-printed buildings, which were just concepts a few years ago, are no longer considered to be in the realm of fiction. These novel structures need to be designed for either transporting people through natural surroundings, protecting them from natural surroundings or allowing them to interact with natural surroundings.
The commonalities that underlay these structures consist of intricate linkages between product, nature and life. The same is true for conventional civil engineering structures, including buildings, bridges, tunnels and dams.
The following image shows an innovative steel lattice structure, one of the Sun Valley structures constructed for Shanghai Expo 2010.
A steel lattice structure constructed for Shanghai Expo 2010. Image courtesy: Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design Group.
We need to think about product, nature and life together, not only for creating innovative designs, but also for providing optimal functionality, ensuring safety and safeguarding sustainability for ecological well-being.
Product, nature and life, therefore, need to play a conjoined role during planning for large engineering projects, such as city developments, large transportation projects, as well as dams and irrigation works.
How can we include product, nature and life in the design processes for civil structures? This will need to be done through realistic simulations that take into account precise geometry and material properties, realistic representations of physical and natural processes, and rational predictions of experiences by people.
Such simulations, in addition to the obvious need for ascertaining structural safety, also need to include the construction processes and sequences along with reliable estimates of construction and maintenance costs.
COMMON INDUSTRY CHALLENGES
Large construction projects often exhibit cost overruns and delays due to unforeseen events or design changes during construction.
As is well known, a judicious balance between cost, time and quality needs to be maintained in any construction project in order to have the resulting product as profitable, safe and sustainable as possible.
In a construction project, the architects and structural engineers first need to come up with a conceptual design that is appropriate for the intended function of the structure. Potential structural loads need to be identified, and the conceptual design needs to be guided by the efficiency of how these loads get transmitted within the structure and distributed to the foundations.
Any errors or inappropriate design choices at this stage can have significant time and cost implications on the final outcome. If the structural components are pre-fabricated, then these and the final structure need to be designed based on the ease of manufacturing the pre-fabricated parts, which can often contain specially designed new materials.
Also, the transportation of these parts and the final assembly processes need to be considered. A complete study on how early design choices affect the construction process, time and costs is, therefore, necessary.
Moreover, such studies need to be done quickly and also need to provide comprehensive data in order to enable architects and engineers to make proper comparisons between different conceptual designs.
Once the conceptual design has been chosen, engineers need to come up with an appropriately detailed final design. As the construction gets under way, some parts of the structure may need to be altered from their original design.
In these circumstances, one needs to be able to quickly identify the implications of any structural modifications on the safety and reliability of the final product. Also, the final design needs to be updated and information on the ensuing modifications needs to be accurately and promptly passed along to the engineers at construction sites.
ROLE OF SIMULATION
In architecture, virtual or graphical simulation models can help in arriving at conceptual designs, taking into account wide ranges of criteria, such as layout, positioning, landscaping and lighting. Also, realistic rendering can be used to help make depictions lifelike, adding to their value for clients.
In engineering, virtual representations can be used to idealize structural geometrical configurations. These configurations can then be used in computational analyses to predict structural deformations and stresses resulting from applied loading and support conditions.
Subsequent to such simulation analyses, the predicted data values can be visualized and examined. Based on these data values, engineers can ascertain the strength, stability and safety of the proposed structure, and can then finalize the structural design.
In construction, the finalized design is then used for material estimation and ordering, planning the construction sequence and managing the construction process using appropriate simulation tools.
As one can see, simulation helps in all three phases of any civil engineering project—conceptual and architectural design, engineering design and construction. Although individual tools are available to simulate these three phases separately, the use of such tools may result in potential loss of information when passed between different phases of the project.
Civil engineering projects, hence, need simulation tools that seamlessly connect the architecture, engineering and construction phases. One such simulation tool is available from Dassault Systèmes.
Structure Design for Fabrication on the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform from Dassault Systèmes has been specifically developed to provide engineers and architects with a unified capability to virtually represent conceptual designs, perform engineering analyses, analyze construction sequences and manage construction projects all together, while keeping track of individual components. It provides a unique representation of the project as a whole, one which several users can remotely access in order to obtain information according to their individual needs. Any change in any component can be reflected throughout the project, including the effects on project schedule, and also likely implications on the structural loading and response.
In addition to Structure Design for Fabrication, Dassault Systèmes also provides solutions using Abaqus® simulation software for complex simulations and analyses, including for pre-stressed and reinforced concrete, for simulating the altered behavior of damaged structures, for geomechanics analyses for tunnels and foundations, and for seismic response analyses of complex structures.
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