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Bringing Stud Partitioning & Drylining into the Digital Age

Drylining done internally on a construction project

While there is a lot of discussion around the use of BIM in the light metal framing sector, what about stud partitioning & drylining? Despite being closely related, drylining remains a largely analog sector. Read on as Craig Johnson, Business Development Manager at Trimble, explores the tools and technology available to digitize and streamline the partitioning & drylining workflows.

Stud partitioning and drylining are critical processes on many construction sites, especially those utilizing light metal framing as a means of construction, with the drylining helping to move the project from "empty shell" to "building". Once the drylining is installed, teams can then make further progress with first electrical, plumbing and mechanical fixings.

However, even on large developments, the approach to drylining remains largely analog in its delivery, despite the significant advances made by its light metal framing partner. You will still see drylining, plasterboard and framing channels being delivered to site in long lengths, before being cut to size and installed piece by piece. While the process isn’t necessarily a complex one, especially when compared to engineering, detailing and fabricating the structural framing that surrounds it, there is still the potential to make it more digital and streamlined overall.

Internet of Things (IoT) in practice

In practice, the level of connectivity promised by the IoT is especially valuable for retrofit drylining projects. With Tekla constructible modeling software, it’s not just 2D and 3D information that you can bring into the digital environment, you can incorporate point cloud data too.

Point cloud data on the Piccadilly Lights Facade retention project, submitted to the 2023 Tekla Awards

Imagine you are repurposing and refurbishing an office space. By using a point cloud survey, you can carry out a detailed scan of the existing structure and bring these millions of points into the digital modeling environment. Laying out this 2D information and plans, you’ll be able to consider and work around any existing MEP services, for example, as well as modeling framework and drylining with any required openings for windows and doors.

This relationship isn’t one way either; you can also interact with your point cloud data and carry out clash checks, with easily understandable color coordination helping to highlight any potential clashes between your model data and the data from the real site context. This is a great way of ensuring peace of mind, knowing that everything will fit once you reach the site – an obvious challenge of the refurb and retrofit market being that you’re working within the constraints of existing structures and services.

Robotics in Practice

Robotics and autonomous solutions are an exciting development, providing us with a glimpse of the construction industry’s future. That said, robotic technology isn’t just for the future – it’s available now.

Take HP Site Print for example. This intelligent piece of technology connects with your modeling software, bringing your model data to the site. Controlled via an HP tablet, HP Site Print takes your BIM data and physically prints out the model lines and dimensions onto the floor surface or drylining board, laying and mapping out the information for you in a clear and visual way. An ideal alternative tool for setting out, it can also make the cutting and installation of the drylining easier and less prone to error.

HP SitePrint at the Trimble and Constructing Excellence technology day

Mixed Reality

Trimble AR is a great example of a mixed reality tool that is easy to use and easily accessible, used via your smartphone or similar device.

We commonly see Trimble AR used as a means of quality checking in the fab shop, with users able to view the model dimensions overlaid on the fabricated component and verify that it has been fabricated within tolerance. However, it can also be used by dryliners to visualize the model dimensions overlaid on a building’s floor or wall drylining board. This can be invaluable when it comes to visualizing where the runs of framing need to be and MEP openings are, as well as helping with setting out and ensuring the drylining installation is progressing correctly.

Woman wearing Trimble Hololens at the Constructing Excellence technology day

There are so many benefits of bringing digitization to the partition wall and drylining sector, from productivity and efficiency gains to reduced waste and errors. Even just being able to use digital modeling software to automatically generate detailed take-offs for the quantities, lengths and dimensions required is a huge step up; rather than simply having great lengths of framing delivered to the site and then cut to size as installation progresses.

Take this digitization further and there is the promise of being able to prepare, measure and cut the drylining and channels before reaching site, with consideration of all MEP services and window and door openings, ready for a prompt installation. In many respects, this would bring drylining in line with light metal framing – a predominantly offsite-based construction method, where the structural frames are manufactured and pre-assembled away from the main site. The advantages of this are immense and widely proclaimed, from enhanced productivity levels, greater accuracy, quicker installation, less waste and fewer hot works on site, improving health and safety.

To learn how to transform your light metal framing workflow with Tekla Structures, watch this overview.