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Getting Real in Civil 3D

Autodesk has recently released Civil 3D 2008, and this new version sees great improvements in functionality, speed and capacity. As Civil 3D continues to grow as a product, we thought it was time to take a look at how some of the organisations that have invested in the software have been putting it to use on live projects around the UK and abroad
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  Getting Real with AutoCAD Civil 3D A look at a variety of projects which have been aided by the use of Civil 3D design software. Autodesk has recently released Civil 3D 2008, and this new version seesgreat improvements in functionality, speed and capacity. As Civil 3Dcontinues to grow as a product, we thought it was time to take a look at how some of the organisations that have invested in the softwarehave been putting it to use on live projects around the UK and abroad. WS Atkins has been utilising Civil 3D for Airport design. Atkins engineerDhammika Karalliedde used Civil 3D to design an overlay to an existingtaxiway at an international UK airport. In this project, the existingconcrete surface of the taxiway had degraded over time, and was to beresurfaced using asphalt. The existing surface was to be planed out toaccommodate the new surface, which had to tie in precisely with therunway at one end and another taxiway at the other. Civil 3D’s profiletools were used to great effect in ensuring that this was achieved withconfidence. Figure 1: Runway Design Profile  There are stringent design criteria in terms of allowable grades andvertical curves for the taxiways, and so the corridor model for thedesign was derived from two main alignments. The western edge of the taxiway was judged to be critical to the design, having the tightesthorizontal curve, and formed one of the alignments, the other beingthe taxiway centreline. A third alignment was placed on the easternedge of the taxiway and was used as an attached alignment in thecorridor design. Profiles of the alignments showing the existingconcrete surface were created and then the overlay profiles usingacceptable degrees of curvature were designed on these, giving80mm surface above existing. The corridor was modelled using twoassemblies, one attached to the eastern edge, and one on the taxiwaycentreline. Grading was included to tie in the edge of the taxiway toexisting ground either side. Figure 2: Proposed Taxiway Section Detail Getting Real with AutoCAD Civil 3D ● Civil Engineering & Mapping By Dave Bosworth, Business Development Consultant, Excitech Ltd. 41© Excitech Ltd Design Productivity Journal | 2007Volume 4, Issue 2  Figure 3: Proposed Taxiway Plan DetailFigure 4: Corridor model of taxiway overlay showing alignments used Dhammika says of the projects “We found the dynamic links betweenthe model and the profiles a big benefit during the design process, aswell as the ability to directly edit the resulting surface model –something that is not so easy using MX. Working directly in AutoCADwas also very important, as we could complete our drawings by Xref-ing in the designs and then adding additional notes and annotation.We would definitely use Civil 3D again for similar projects”. Corridors are not just for transportation…  These airport design projects are perhaps an obvious way to use thecorridor modelling tools in Civil 3D – but a more unusual applicationwas for a river flood defence project. One of Halcrow’s offices in Peterborough used Civil 3D to design a 2.5km flood defence embankment, which had to incorporate spillwaysand flow control structures in order to manage the floodwater. Figure 5: River Flood Defence SchemeFigure 6: Detail from Plan LayoutFigure 7: 3D View of Flood Defence Embankment Civil Engineering & Mapping ● Getting Real with AutoCAD Civil 2 © Excitech Ltd Design Productivity Journal | 2007Volume 4, Issue 2  Volume 4, Issue 22007  | © Excitech Ltd Design Productivity 43 Getting Real with AutoCAD Civil 3D ● Civil Engineering & Mapping The scheme was laid out in AutoCAD as a 2D drawing before theyconsidered using Civil 3D to generate a 3D model in order to calculateaccurate volumes. Once the decision was taken to model it in Civil 3D,an initial attempt was made to use the grading tools to create theearthworks, but it was quickly established that the site was toocomplex to use these effectively. Neil Potter, CAD Manager at theHalcrow office in Peterborough, decided that corridor modelling wasthe best approach. He successfully modelled the embankment bydesigning an alignment and profile, and then used six assembliesalong the route to grade to the existing surface. Once the corridor hadbeen modelled, a surface was applied and accurate cut/fill volumescalculated.Neil’s comments on the project that “what became very obvious to usearly on is that Civil 3D should be used as a design tool and as suchbrought into use very early in the design stage. The model was veryeasy to amend, and has the potential of huge time savings withdynamically linked cross-sections and profiles”.“We are only just getting to grips with the software, but are alreadystarting to see the huge potential it has. Previously our design wouldbe carried out in 2D and then perhaps later converted to a 3D model- now the design is started in Civil 3D, very easily tweaked if necessaryand then output to a 2D format for our working drawings. And wehaven’t even started to investigate the potential of the 3D renderingyet….” . Pipes are not just for Drainage… McNicholas, a national service provider delivering major infrastructureprojects and programmes in the utilities, rail and renewable energymarkets, was recently awarded a major utilities diversion designcontract in central Croydon.  The project involves the mapping of existing utilities, such as gas,electricity, water, telecoms and drainage, as well as the design andconstruction of diversions to these services including tunnelling. Asexpected in such a highly developed location, the services involvedare extensive and the management of such a project in order tominimise disruption to the public and existing customers is of theutmost importance. In order to minimise risk and to be able to prevent delays during the construction process due to insufficient informationor unforeseen problems, the decision was taken to model the site andthe existing and proposed services in 3D from the outset. Civil 3D was Figure 8: 3D View of street showing existing services modelled in Civil 3D chosen as the tool of choice because of its ability to create 3D modelsof pipe networks, and to dynamically display these in 3D, cross-sectionand profile views. A 3D survey of the site was commissioned alongwith a comprehensive underground services survey. This gaveMcNicholas the best possible data for modelling the existing site.Several surfaces were created in Civil 3D, and assigned appropriaterender materials so that roads, footpaths and other areas could beeasily distinguished when viewed in 3D.  The pipe layout tools were then used to model the existing servicesusing information gathered from utility records and surveyinformation. Although designed for laying out drainage networks, thetools are easily adapted for modelling other services such as pipelines,cables and ducts. The pipes and structures Parts Builder in Civil 3D hasalso been used to customise the application for the project, allowingthem to create services and structures of the appropriate dimensions. Figure 9: Diverted Storm Water Sewer in Profile Mark Watson, one of the technicians given the task of producingdrawings for the project says ”This is an excellent tool for this kind of project. One of the major benefits is the ability to create sectionscontaining the “intelligent” objects. This will be invaluable when weare looking to plan any tunnelling work. As we are diverting up to adozen different underground utilities and services, the other majorbenefit is the ability to check for any interference between the differentpipes and ducts. With the intelligence of the structures and pipes, thesoftware assists us to plan and design, even if it is something so simpleas just a quick use of the orbit button whilst in front of the monitor”. The Future for Civil 3D It is clear that for many companies who have adopted AutoCAD Civil3D, the benefits of the object based technology are proving to be veryworthwhile; bringing tangible benefits in terms of ease of design andfast production of drawings. With the appropriate level of training,engineers and technicians are successfully applying the technologyto a wide range of infrastructure projects. Many of these projectsinvolve multiple disciplines, and the next challenge is to explore howCivil 3D can be used in conjunction with other design tools such asAutoCAD Architecture and Revit. Members of Excitech’s BusinessDevelopment Team are currently exploring these possibilities inpartnership with our many clients in the construction arena. For more information see inside back cover 4211 or toask a question email:
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