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Demonstrating the power of Tekla on the South Korean power plant

3D model of balcony leading to trapezoidal-shaped hopper units with open hatch

The South Korean Biomass Power Plant project presented TDS with a significant challenge – mainly the designing and modelling of all 66,011 steel elements for the new boiler island’s fabric filter. As a result of the vast number of parts, TDS once again turned to its trusted BIM software, Trimble’s Tekla Structures.


Breaking records as Asia’s largest biomass power plant facility, the Power Plant in South Korea burns an organic mixture of agricultural and associated by-product in order to generate electricity, making it a more sustainable means of energy production. Following plans to expand the site, the construction of a new boiler island was undertaken, with commercial operation of the new plant currently scheduled for 2021.

Two rendered views showing the back and front of fabric filter with the 3D BIM model in between

Appointed by Lodge Cottrell, TDS was tasked to model and create the drawings for the new boiler island’s fabric filter, with an incredible amount of steel elements required, from the large structural components to the smaller details; including the filter’s under structure, hoppers, top boxes, inlet and outlet ducting, bypass ducts, top doors, several access platforms, access and escape ladders, a staircase tower, hundreds of metres of handrails, steps, grating and several mechanical parts.

Simon Chatwin, Operations Manager at TDS said: Due to the sheer scale of the project, it was vital that we had access to a piece of reliable and efficient BIM software to assist us. As a company, we have been users of Tekla software for over ten years now. Tekla is flexible, customisable, highly-detailed and works in logical ways. It is also regularly updated, keeping ahead of the latest developments within the industry, and coordinates well with other software, making it a valuable addition to our company’s work.

3D BIM model of access platform running between hopper units with inlet ducts and dampers above

Tekla Structures was particularly integral on the South Korean Biomass Power Plant project. It will surely come as no surprise to hear that the biggest challenge for us was the size of the resulting model. A project of this nature generates an eye-watering number of parts, including a large amount of bespoke plate-work, with an extremely high level of detail required. In turn, both of these factors combine to take any piece of hardware or software to its very limits, making it vital that our chosen software was able to keep-up.

As well as Tekla Structures’ ability to process and manage a large amount of data and detail, the scale of the Biomass Power Plant project really lent itself to specific capabilities within the software, further exemplifying Tekla’s suitability, as Simon explained further.

Hopper unit modelled in Tekla Structures

One particular aspect of the Tekla workflow that greatly assisted us with meeting the required deadlines of this project was the ability to phase multiple areas of the model off and isolate specific sections for different teams to work on consecutively, via Tekla Model Sharing. This collaborative approach proved instrumental in enabling us to deliver the required model and accompanying fabrication drawings on time, with the ability to have multiple team members working side-by-side within the same model, without the risk of overlapping or clashing.

An example of such an element that was modelled in isolation were the filter’s trapezoidal-shaped hopper units, as Simon discusses further: As a result of the hopper units being the main component in a series of interconnected structural items, this meant that any change or alteration made during the design phase of the hopper units would also affect the other related items. Fortunately, thanks to Tekla’s 3D modelling capabilities we were able to efficiently incorporate any changes received during the modelling phase in the shortest time possible, with its built-in clash detection tools allowing us to easily confirm whether the updated model was constructible. The software’s specialised platework tools were also invaluable in enabling us to model these items to the level of manufacturing detail required, with full symmetry and within the time frames given.

Tekla Structures model of two rows of four interconnected hopper units with a close-up of hopper unit

Another aspect of the Tekla workflow that proved greatly beneficial on this project was the interoperability and overall approach to open BIM; especially since, at TDS, we frequently require the use of reference models from other software in order to produce our own BIM models. Here, Tekla’s extensive reference model compatibility functions enabled us to model all bought-out items, which, while not directly forming part of our manufacturing scope, were nonetheless required within the model for coordination purposes. For example, while we were not instructed to provide manufacturing drawings for the filter system’s dampers, it was important that we were able to coordinate our model around and fix to these items. Our client simply provided an IFC model of the dampers from another piece of software and we were able to easily import this into our Tekla model, allowing us to fully incorporate third-party items into our design and provide a more complete model to our client.

Clip plane through Tekla Structures model of filter system to show the damper reference models

As a result of the software’s intelligence and efficiency, TDS was able to successfully model the new power plant filter, including all of its 66,011 steel elements.

Simon concluded: It is projects of this nature that serve to demonstrate how a 3D method of working is the present and future of the industry. While 2D remains a very important starting point - after all, everyone needs to first understand what they are looking at in a 2D environment - having 3D at our disposal opens up all axes for interrogation. It enables you to analyse a structure or single element from every angle, providing you with the assurance that the design is correct in all respects. Factor BIM, particularly that found within Tekla, into the equation and you are provided with a very high-level of information-rich data on each and every part, bolt, weld and component; helping to avoid all doubt.

Access platform running between upper sections of fabric filter with duct work

Tekla was crucial to the success of this project, enabling our design teams to work collaboratively on producing a highly detailed model, from which the required fabrication drawings were then generated.

TDS’s contribution to the Korean Biomass Power Plant project has been well recognised within the BIM Industry, with the company winning the Industrial Product category of the 2019 UK Tekla Awards, where it was praised by judges for the complex model’s extraordinary attention to detail.