The design of infrastructure and engineering structures meet in a model environment

For a long time, Tekla has supported the development of the infrastructure and construction industries towards model-based operations. The latest trend facilitates the dialog between the model-based design of infrastructure and engineering structures, such as roads, railroads, bridges, and noise barriers. Tekla’s solutions support several design and construction tasks in the areas of, for example, street, road, and railroad technology.

Using Tekla’s solutions, a designer can create structural models, which are always up-to-date, of the designed objects and soil as well as soil surface and structural surface materials. As part of the renewal of Tekla’s software offering, the functionalities of earlier Tekla X products have been regrouped into industry-specific applications that form the Tekla Solutions software solution targeted at customer groups. The Tekla Solution for infrastructure designers is based on Tekla Civil software*, which is used in managing all key information related to the design process.

The versatile Tekla Civil is intended for the needs of model-based design and construction. It makes efficient use of, for example, location information, terrain models, aerial photos, and several registers, and enables the processing of surface models of unlimited sizes. The development of software solutions has taken important steps toward the integration of the infrastructure and construction industries. “Today, we have to take note of the improved connection between the construction of infrastructure and buildings, supporting the entire constructed environment,” says Erkki Mäkinen, Segment Director of Civil engineering. This is a natural trend for Tekla, as the company also offers Tekla Structures BIM (Building Information Modeling) software for structural engineering and building and construction planning as well as for project management.

Towards interoperable use of Tekla software

Tekla has piloted interoperable use of Tekla Civil and Tekla Structures software as a model-based way of working. Functionality in both programs has been developed during the piloting phase to enable the publishing of surface and structural models from Tekla Civil in the structural model in Tekla Structures and vice versa. This means that users of either software program do not have to write out or read in files. Instead, the programs can use the same models.

The development of interoperable use of Tekla software has addressed challenges related to the coordination of infrastructure and engineering structure designs. Combining the coordinate systems of the designs is among the most significant developments. Where terrain models and road designs are principally made using real world coordinates, buildings are designed using the project’s own coordinates, often based on a specific point at the construction site. Coordinate conversions related to design coordination are automatically calculated in interoperable use of Tekla Civil and Tekla Structures.

Benefits for design and implementation

According to Erkki Mäkinen and Markku Alanko, Software Manager, the basic reason for developing interoperability between Tekla Civil and Tekla Structures is to facilitate the work of designers and to increase communication between different designs. “In the case of bridges, for example, a bridge designer can continue directly from electronic bridge location documents, which the road designer has written in the model, and base his or her own work on this data,” says Mäkinen. Interoperability saves not only users’ time but also money.

Where model-based design work reduces design-related errors, interoperability eliminates design inconsistencies and coordination problems. “Our aim is to minimize errors in design and to detect problems at an early stage of the design process. This would prevent costs arising from errors in design or, at worst, expensive construction errors,” says Alanko. “Interoperability between the software has already been used for detecting and fixing problem areas in designs. This already proves the benefits of the concept.”

Practical applications now and in the future

So far, the concept has been used in building projects where the overlap of different routes and structures pose special challenges for the design. For example, the Finnish engineering company A-Insinöörit made use of the piIoted interoperability in designing the underground roundabout at the Ratina shopping mall in Tampere, Finland, as well as in designing the level crossing at the Mustola intersection overpass and Sulkutie pedestrian underpass in the Highway 6 project in Finland. “The Tekla Civil surface models, such as the surfaces of the pavements and surrounding terrain, were imported to Tekla Structures models as initial data. Clear triangular network surfaces facilitated the modeling of concrete structures in the Tekla Structures models,” says Antti Pekkala, Development Engineer at A-Insinöörit. The company is also planning to use the products side-by-side in the West Metro project in Helsinki Metropolitan area, Finland. “The trend seems to be that, in the future, we will no longer use separate road and bridge models but route models instead,” Pekkala continues.

Mäkinen and Alanko from Tekla can see significant potential in software interoperability. So far, the concept has been utilized particularly by design offices that have operations in place for designing both infrastructure and engineering structures, such as bridges, station platforms, and noise barriers.

However, the development of interoperable software use also benefits specialized players in the industry, because moving over to electronic models and developing coordination between the models enables networking between different parties in the industry, regardless of their location.

* In the Tekla Solutions renewal, the functionalities of Tekla Xstreet were grouped in the Tekla Civil application.

Text: Joonas Vartiainen



Engineering structures

Engineering structures include all structures which require designs based on strength calculations and where structural damage resulting from a design or construction error may endanger people or traffic systems and incur significant repair costs regarding the structure or its immediate surroundings. Typical engineering structures include bridges, pole plates, tunnels, and platforms.