Caunton embraces the future with Tekla

Caunton Engineering is one of the UK’s leading structural steelwork contractors, with over 45 years’ experience. It offers a complete service to the construction industry, designing, fabricating, applying surface treatments and erecting structural steelwork on projects ranging from 300 to 6,000 tonnes.

Caunton works on both consultant design and design and build projects, providing innovative steel frame solutions across a wide range of market sectors.

Working in collaborative partnership has been the Caunton approach for many years and in July 2016 their skills in this area were formally recognised by gaining the coveted BCSA BIM Charter status.









Caunton Engineering selected Tekla’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) software to enable it to move beyond 3D modelling and embrace the future of construction.

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Robert Berry, Director of Engineering and Innovation, says the company has experienced a wide range of benefits since adopting BIM. “The industry needs better design and BIM can help us deliver it. Having a Building Information Model allows our structural engineers to very quickly understand the structure and produce a compliant design in less time – we believe there can be time savings of as much as 25% where a good-quality BIM model is available. Project costings are more accurate, giving greater cost certainty for the Client and the building is better understood by everyone involved.  It can also be used to demonstrate innovative options, which can ultimately lead to the most competitive solution for the project, not just for the steel frame.”

Retail and leisure development in Chelmsford, Essex.He continues: “BIM also provides construction teams with a very powerful tool that can be used to identify the safest and best build sequence, which is of significant value. It’s hard to put a figure on the amount of money that is lost as a direct result of badly coordinated work on site. What we do know is that if one of our four-man installation crews has to stand still for an hour it will cost us at least £400. We know the cost of remedial works on BIM projects is lower too, because potential clashes are resolved during the design phase – designed out, rather than built in.”


The importance of interoperability

Caunton took the decision to migrate all 20 of its 3D modelling staff to Tekla Structures in 2011, when it became clear its existing 3D modelling software was not capable of delivering accurate, constructible Building Information Models that could be shared in .IFC format. “We’d been looking at Tekla for about four years,” says Berry. “The single most important thing was the software could satisfy our internal requirements - producing data for CNC machinery in our workshops, fabrication detail drawings for our production teams and key project data for many of our business processes. Without these things the business would simply grind to a halt”.

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The other key benefit is Tekla’s interoperability – it can exchange information in .IFC format accurately and completely with a wide range of other BIM software packages.  Caunton models can be shared with the rest of the project team, no matter what software they are using. Since implementing BIM processes, he has noticed a big difference in design team meetings: “On projects where BIM is not used, 70% of the time is spent explaining problems and only 30% on agreeing solutions. We have seen almost a reversal of this on BIM projects – 30% of the time spent reviewing problems that are clearly visible in the model, and 70% spent agreeing solutions collaboratively during the meeting.

Working this way gives all designers more time to think about problems and agree the best solution – an extremely valuable benefit for the whole design team. Construction interfaces between different building elements are visible to all parties, making coordination easier. This investment in design time leads to things fitting right first time when installed on site, resulting in better quality assets”. Longer term, Berry believes this shift from organisation-centric to project-centric decision making facilitated by BIM has the potential to radically change the adversarial nature of construction.


Model driven processes

Caunton create a Tekla Structures model for many of the bids they submit and for every project they secure. They are an integral part of the business. “As a manufacturer, everything we do is driven by data. Because Tekla Structures is a database, the model drives everything we do. For example, we can use the model to effectively monitor progress of the project during the design phase, progress physical parts during the fabrication phase and progress erection of the frame on site.”

Caunton are now actively using Model Sharing on their projects which Berry acknowledges is providing benefits: “We carried out a thorough evaluation of Tekla’s cloud based ‘model sharing’ in early 2016. The results convinced us that we could achieve time savings compared to working in Multi-User mode, so we have now invested in 12 licences”.

Alongside Tekla Structures, Caunton’s structural engineering team use Fastrak Building Designer and now Tekla Structural Designer for primary frame analysis on all Design & Build projects. Other Tekla programs extend BIM throughout the business.

Tekla BIMsight allows over 100 non-design staff across the company to interrogate models and extract the data they need, while Tekla Field3D allows people working away from the office to access models wherever they are on their mobile devices.

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“Together Tekla Structures, Model Sharing, Tekla Structural Designer, Tekla BIMsight and Field3D make a very competitive offering,” says Berry. “Ultimately, if you’re in the business of designing, manufacturing and installing, Tekla tools will allow you to do quite a lot more than you would with other packages.”


Key benefits

  • A good quality BIM model at tender stage can reduce design costs on D&B projects by up to 25%.
  • Data from the Tekla model drives all our CNC machinery which manufactures the physical steel components.
  • Lowers cost of remedial works, as potential clashes are designed out, not built in.
  • Less time spent explaining problems at design team meetings, allowing more time to solve them.