Developers allow puzzle pieces to fall in place
Solving issues during modeling saves time, money, frustration
Finding that the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle won’t fit into place is annoying. Assembling a bookcase only to realize that a screw is missing is inconvenient. But a construction crew being unable to assemble a critical structural component might be disastrous to a construction budget and timeline.
With that scenario in mind, a development team of three US-based JMT Consultants went to work to prevent this worst-case situation from occurring on the job site by creating their Bolt Clearance Check for Tekla Structures. The value that this innovation can bring to detailers and erectors is why it was awarded the Best Developer Project in the 2020 Tekla Global BIM Awards.
When asked how the concept for the Bolt Clearance Check came about, Christopher Keyack, Chief Technology Officer for JMT Consultants explains that “we were providing the detailing and connection design on a large distribution and sorting facility that required connections for the heavy bracing and loads. The customer wanted to do bolted connections to prevent costly field welding.”
Making sure special bolts fit on the construction site
This new requirement introduced a complication to the design process. “We needed to make sure the bolts could be inserted in the correct direction and that the larger wrench could be used at some of the tighter spots on the connection. If they wouldn’t have fit, then a last minute welded design or a much slower hydraulic wrench would have been required to tighten the bolts,” Keyack continues. “Time and materials are much more expensive in the field than the detailing office. With just a few hours of programming using the Tekla API, we can often make production and checking tools that will help shorten the overall schedule and prevent costly field fixes or down time.”
“Time and materials are much more expensive in the field than the detailing office. With just a few hours of programming using the Tekla API, we can often make production and checking tools that will help shorten the overall schedule and prevent costly field fixes or down time.”
Christopher Keyack, Chief Technology Officer, JMT Consultants
Keyack’s anecdote highlights two potential problem areas that the Bolt Clearance Check tool addresses: TC bolts and electronic wrenches. TC bolts include a spline that is severed after the bolt is tightened. By checking the true length of the bolt (including spline), potential fit issues on-site can be addressed early on.
Similarly, different types of wrenches may vary in size. By defining the size of the electronic wrench to be used during the detailing phase, it can be flagged as to whether a standard wrench will have enough clearance to tighten any given nut, or if a specialty wrench will need to be employed in the field.
Watch video about the Bolt Clearance Check application
For a more immersive way for engineers to visualize how tight clearances might affect the assembly process, the team even published the model for use with the Oculus Quest Virtual Reality Headset.
“The winning tool solves a real problem and helps detailers in their work,” said Chris Wilson, Director, Engineering Segment, Structures Division for Trimble. "The application, developed in a few hours of programming by JMT Consultants, shows how quickly really useful new tools can be created using an easy programming interface. The winning tool aligns with Trimble’s strategic intention to be open and encourages new developers to try out programming with Tekla Open API.”
The flexibility afforded by Tekla’s Open API has proven to be a powerful reason for customers to rely on Tekla solutions. “The API allows us to take control of our own destiny in meeting the needs for our Clients and the project,” said Keyack. “It’s actually a key reason why we chose and continue to stick with Tekla as our preferred software of choice...the API enables us to prioritize and react on projects to make sure we get the job done.”
Learn more about Tekla Structures Open API