Recently, Trimble introduced Tekla® Structures 21, the latest version of its building information modeling (BIM) software for the engineering and construction markets.
According to company materials, with advancements in interoperability, drawing control, usability and performance, Tekla Structures 21 improves industrial and commercial construction project workflows across construction disciplines. The new version delivers benefits to structural steel and precast concrete designers, detailers and fabricators, concrete contractors and general contractors, and enhanced collaboration with Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) design engineers, architects and others.
AECCafe Voice spoke with Mark Allphin, P.E., business manager for Steel at Tekla, Inc., a Trimble Company, about the new version and what it means for engineering and construction professionals.
AECCafe Voice: Would you say Tekla Structures 21 is a more complex BIM like Revit or one that more stakeholders, other than those actually creating and adding to the model, can take advantage of? It looks like it allows more freeflow of information with stakeholders.
Mark Allphin: Tekla Structures is both of these. It is a fully functional BIM software platform with a construction level detail capacity unmatched anywhere in the AEC software industry. Tekla Structures also offers various configurations that fit varying levels of user requirements. For instance, there are configurations for adding/modeling the full level of detail required for fabrication and construction. And, there are configurations for simply viewing and adding additional information to model objects already created. This allows project stakeholders to use the detailed model to track and manage project status and tasks, and communicate those with the rest of the project team.
AECCafe Voice: What are the most profound additions in this release?
MA: There are two new online services released with Tekla Structures 21: Tekla Model Sharing and Tekla Warehouse.
Tekla Model Sharing is a fast, secure way to share information and collaborate. A new service from Tekla, it allows project team members to work on the same Tekla Structures model from any location or time zone for faster and more flexible project delivery. Tekla Model Sharing works for all sizes of projects, both online and offline. The model data is stored safely and transferred encrypted, according to the highest security protocols.
Tekla Warehouse is a new free online BIM library of Tekla Structures add-ons, libraries and templates to help users achieve more efficient workflows and higher quality projects. The warehouse includes applications, custom components, parts, profiles and materials such as steel and concrete grades, rebar, mesh, shapes and templates for Tekla Structures. Manufacturers can upload their products and tools to the Tekla Warehouse, allowing Tekla Structures users to build models with the highest accuracy and exact material information for planning and procurement. All content is easy to find, import, install and share internally and globally.
Also, there are numerous modeling and drawing enhancements, a few of which are as follows…
Simpler, More Efficient Modeling — Tekla Structures 21’s new “what you see is what you get” direct modification makes modeling more intuitive and user friendly. Drawing construction lines, circles and points and placing custom parts is straightforward, and editing the position is easy and immediate. The Tekla Structures Organizer tool allows users to use the accurate, object-based material data in the model for quantity take-offs, while automation eliminates tedious manual counting or post processing. Improvements in the precast concrete floor layout make it easier to create and detail precast slabs. With mesh bars, reinforcement modeling is also easier, more efficient and reliable.
Drawing Control and Automation – Tekla Structures 21 provides greater control over drawings by simplifying the processes of navigating, printing
And viewing drawing properties. Tekla users also can now give customized company-specific dimensions to their own standard parts, such
as bolts and embeds. Tekla’s view level control of dimensioning automates working with assemblies like handrails, cast units and
sandwich walls. Welds and weld marks in drawings support customization and weld paths can be shown in single-part drawings.
Better Concrete Pours — Tekla Structures 21 makes modeling cast-in-place concrete and modifying pour breaks easier and more reliable. Because concrete pour information is now automatically inherited after a pour break, no vital information will be lost.
AECCafe Voice: How has integration improved between this release and Revit?
MA: Our integration with Revit has been augmented in two ways with this release. Our link with Revit has been updated to provide deeper data transfer, enabling more information to be referenced and even accessed on drawings. Also, we have enhanced our IFC Change Management functionality allowing more control in the detection, management and accommodation of changes between subsequent IFC files exchanged with other project participants. This works very well in a Revit-to-Tekla and vice versa workflow where model coordination is the focus.
AECCafe Voice: Does the product integrate with the BIM software of other companies such as Bentley BIM?
MA: Absolutely. Tekla is a primary supporter of the Open BIM initiative and Building Smart, which means we are dedicated to comprehensive IFC model exchange between software platforms. However, we also offer integration with software such as Bentley’s ISM technology, Autodesk’s Revit platform, and Trimble SketchUp Pro via direct integration links. In addition, Tekla is a Trimble Connected product enabling data flow within the complete suite of Trimble Buildings software applications.
AECCafe Voice: Can you describe a common workflow for the use of this product?
MA: In all seriousness, this could be a near endless answer because of all the various workflows that are in use today. However, the most common workflow would be similar to the following: A Structural Engineer first uses Tekla Structures to create a conceptual design model, either from scratch or from a ‘seed’ model provided by an architect using Revit or Archicad. The Engineer can also link with various structural analysis & design software, including the recently released Tekla Structural Designer, to refine the model for the design loads. The model can then be passed to various trade detailers and sub-contractors, such as steel and rebar detailers, so that they can add the appropriate level of detail necessary for fabrication. This includes the production of shop drawings and CNC data that will drive automated machinery in the shop. This detailed, construction-level model can then be passed to the general contractor, sub-contractors and other project participants for use in further coordination, execution and tracking of the project including reporting and model colorization for project status of individual assemblies/pours. And, now with the release of Model Sharing for Tekla Structures 21, this can all be hosted in a cloud environment for access by all parties. Tekla Structures provides a complete model solution for cradle-to-grave design, fabrication and construction of the building structure.
AECCafe Voice: Is there a way for users to focus on one specific area of interest of the building model without having to access the entire building model? Please describe.
MA: Yes, there are tools within Tekla Structures for categorizing and ‘partitioning’ the project based on area, level, material, etc. so that a user may quickly isolate only the portions of the model that they need at that time. This is achieved with the Organizer tool which is automated and has also been enhanced in v21.