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BIM: a Reality in the Precast Concrete Industry

Civil construction, like any other sector of the Brazilian economy, is constantly facing several challenges, the most critical of which is productivity. It is no news that BIM technology offers the most intelligent solutions for project planning, design coordination, and waste reduction, but another sector, too, is undergoing major evolution: prefabrication of concrete elements.

A prominent example of this new reality comes from Rotesma, a precast manufacturing company that operates in Chapecó (of Santa Catarina), and in Grande Maringá (of Paraná), and delivers projects in all regions of southern Brazil. The company utilizes the rich information of the 3D models created with Trimble's Tekla Structures software in the preliminary and quotation phases of projects, explains Douglas Mantelli, engineer in charge of implementing BIM technology in the company’s engineering department. “Currently building information models are created already in the beginning of the process, at the budget preparation phase, to present the project to the customer. After the sale, the same model is utilized throughout the project lifecycle.”


A highly detailed model created in Tekla Structures

Strong emphasis on implementation and training

The process of implementing a new technology or production process involves effort and nearly always a reduction in resources. In addition, it is a journey that begins with basic training and continues throughout the life cycle of the chosen solution. Mantelli says: “Implementation of BIM technology started in the engineering sector where the first challenge was training the technical staff, developing the database with company standards, lists, and profiles, and adapting the work routines.”

The tools that propose to offer better results, usually by replacing a previous solution, also present challenges regarding labor, standardization and adaptation of the system. This has been addressed by Rotesma's technical software implementation team in cooperation with Trimble’s local Portuguese-language technical support team.


Everything modeled and readily available for all stakeholders

Clear information, accessible to all involved

The process of creating preliminary models of concept alternatives and enriching the chosen concept with structural design and detailing for manufacturing generates an enormous amount of information. In the traditional method this results in numerous drawings, plans and elevations, usually on paper, in addition to more or less detailed quantitative data for construction.

Reading design documents requires skills to interpret 2D drawing views, to recognize hidden elements and so on, which is not trivial to those not directly involved in the project or new in their roles. It is common that misinterpretations happen and important information is lost, and this can cause various complications over the life cycle of the project .

The use of 3D models - containing all element, part and component information at an appropriate level of detail for manufacturing - helps all departments obtain relevant information in their desired format and almost immediately understand the state of the project. Mantelli emphasizes the importance of this aspect: “Today, all disciplines get information from the models, in the form of a physical list or a digital file.”

Integrated process power

Intensifying the use of the new tool reveals new possibilities to unify processes. The strengths of Tekla Structures include its interoperability with production and shipping control systems. This enables visualization and creation of production data for reinforcement cutting and bending machinery, for example. In addition, valuable information can be exchanged with departments not directly linked to engineering. Mantelli says: “In addition to Plannix, we use the Gráphico program to read the BVBS files for cutting and bending reinforcement, and Delsoft for financial management.”

BIM reduces project reviews and supports change management

Rotesma can verify that after adopting these intelligent and transparent tools for the development of their projects, there has been a reduction or even total elimination of reviews caused by misunderstandings, errors, and divergences between disciplines. Designer Anderson Scapinello states: “Design reviews have been greatly reduced thanks to our very accurate model that allows comprehensive visual inspection of all parts, embeds and components. Change management has improved due to easy access to model information.”


BIM technology from design to construction

The project lifecycle, from creation of the project concept all the way to closing the contract, includes detailing and producing the elements, and concludes in delivering and installing them on site. Using high-tech tools in the office only is not enough for BIM to demonstrate its full benefits.

Integrated with the base model, Trimble's cloud-sharing and collaboration tool Trimble Connect ensures immediate access to relevant model data when needed for any party involved. Since the information is available real time, all the time, those involved in the delivery of work can focus on the required decision-making, which enables more accurate monitoring and more agile project communications. Mantelli says this benefit is available also for the field staff in addition to other engineering services that can be better planned using the model.

”The IFC model can be shared via Trimble Connect and used to create a rigging plan and to schedule installation so that elements do not need to be stored on site. With Plannix, we can obtain and view status information in the Tekla model, to know if the element is in the production, storage, transportation or assembly phase.”

Learn more about Tekla solutions for precast concrete.

This article was published in CPi Worldwide magazine #1-2021.