Implementation of Tekla BIM at Strängbetong has improved project understanding throughout the company. Recently Tekla Structures software has been used to 3D detail and manage the structures, including precast concrete, of Sweden’s brand new Swedbank national arena.
Implementing BIM to precast concrete fabrication
The BIM (Building Information Modeling) implementation process at Strängbetong has been a two-year journey. ”At first we struggled with easy projects, now we excel in really difficult ones,” says Tobias Svenberg, development engineer at Strängbetong.
The Friends arena in Solna, Stockholm, is the new national football arena of Sweden. The arena consists of 77,000 sq m of stand and flooring elements. Strängbetong has used about 12 full-time designers to create a comprehensive 3D building information model of the arena, including use and creation of 150 reference models and 2100 drawings.
Time and dedication
”Companies often have unrealistic expectations of how to adapt BIM into their processes,” says Tobias Svenberg. ”Many designers are experts in using AutoCAD and expect to work at the same pace with Tekla Structures from the first time they use it. However, they need to realize that implementing building information modeling as a process – it does not mean just creating models – will take time and dedication. We had two development resources working full time for entire two years to get where we are now. There is a lot of work in integrating company standards, design guidelines, connections, drawings, and materials to the software environment, and a lot of company-specific software development is needed, but the end result truly compensates for all the hard work.”
”It’s really important to get the basics right first;” explains Tobias. ”Ideally, in addition to standards and guidelines, you need to create a basic set of plugins and tools, which include common connections, details, reinforcements, and a link to the ERP system. After the basics you should focus on automating drawings. Let the first projects be easy ones with simple elements. Create routines, focus on full detailing, train the site manager to use the model and have it available on site – it’s worth it!”
Quality and understanding of design
”Despite a slow start, using Tekla Structures has really improved the quality of design at Strängbetong in the projects we have used it,” continues Svenberg. ”I feel that our designers now have a better understanding of the project when working in 3D and even in ’4D’, adding the time dimension to the 3D model. Working in 3D allows for better solutions because you can catch big problems early already before they become big problems. There are fewer mistakes all in all and everything fits together better. In the future we hope to use BIM to its full potential.”
”Understanding our projects has improved throughout the company,” says Svenberg. ”We benefit from 3D modeling in, for example, tender designs, as customers understand their projects better by looking at the highly detailed but easy-to-comprehend model. Our sales guys love to have a 3D model along when they make the sales pitch, and the designers love to have it available in the project meetings. We have had Tekla models available also on construction sites and they have been very well received.”
Linking to ERP system
”Linking to the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is a critical step to make project work effective for us,” says Svenberg. ”To create a good information flow in the process, to eliminate the many human errors that can happen during manual key-in, and to save the time that it takes to do the manual work. ERP integration enables automatic cost calculation in the tender phase and allows us to work in ‘4D’, adding the time dimension, by returning status information from our ERP system into the Tekla model. The data we can return includes drawing completion, production status, delivery and assembly status, all complete with dates. This can then be used to visualize the different stages of a project and to compare them.”
“When adding elements to the model, we use an application that gathers info from the product database (ddb2) and the ERP system (iNetto). An element is created with an amount of UDAs (user-defined attributes) that will later be read when transferring back and forth from the ERP system. The same applies for inserts, reinforcements, and so on. When an element is to be sent to the ERP system, its variables and information are read and uploaded to the database and released to the ERP system in order to handle the pre-orders of for example stirrups and inserts. The main usage of the link is to transfer elements from design to production within the ERP system,” Svenberg explains.
It’s more fun to work with Tekla!
”The Tekla Structures Model Reviewer, for example, is a very helpful tool. Our designers want to work in Tekla now and choose it above other available software,” says Tobias Svenberg of Strängbetong. ”The other departments are knocking on our door wanting the models available for their work, too.”
The Tekla Open API™ allows Strängbetong to do powerful software development by themselves. “By using the API we intend to automate a lot of the design work, such as automatic modeling, automatic cast-unit drawings for all standard elements, and in some cases, automatic generation of buildings, such as the Strängbetong Bashallen. We also intend to improve the connection with our ERP system. In some cases, with simpler cast-unit drawings, we have already achieved automatic drawings using the possibilities of the Tekla Open API. Personally I believe in the possibilities of the Tekla Open API and we have used it extensively in our implementation of Tekla Structures at AB Strängbetong,” says Svenberg.
The use of Tekla Structures is increasing in other parts of the company. ”The model should be a natural part of our daily work in all project-related issues: project and site management, production and production planning to start with – that is our goal,” concludes Svenberg.
About AB Strängbetong
Strängbetong is Sweden’s leading provider of precast concrete building systems. By manufacturing all elements in factory and then assembling them on site, Strängbetong can in a short time span deliver a solid, sound and tight house ready for heating. The benefits for customers are better overall economy, greater security, improvements in environmental performance, and scope for architectural quality. Strängbetong has about 1000 employees and a turnover of nearly €200 million. The company has eight production plants and offices in five locations all over Sweden, headquartered in Stockholm. More information at www.strangbetong.se
AB Strängbetong is part of the Consolis group, Europe's leading manufacturers of precast concrete elements with comprehensive solutions for construction projects. The Group has production facilities in 20 countries with over 8000 employees and annual turnover of over € 1 billion. More information at www.consolis.com