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Formwork Modeling with DPR Construction

The manufacturing and construction industry are often compared to each other. However, one conspicuous difference between the two is that while the manufacturing industry mass produces the end product using one process flow, the construction industry delivers similar products in different physical settings. Even though similar construction projects have the same set of construction activities, unique physical settings pose many challenges to maintaining productivity. 

The challenge and its BIM solution

While building the Digital Arts Facility at the University of California Santa Cruz, the challenge for DPR Construction was to rapidly generate concrete formwork layout options adapting to the site and the building. Tekla provided the technology to create adaptive formwork components which could generate the formwork layout for different shapes and sizes of walls with varying details in different physical settings. DPR created custom components (intelligent templates) in Tekla Structures that adjusted to shape and size of the wall and automatically generated a formwork layout.

Capturing knowledge from the field

The ability to create parametric templates in Tekla Structures and its ability to handle extreme detailing made it the most suitable software solution to model to the snap-tie level of detail. In the process of automating the formwork layout process, DPR discovered a powerful method for capturing formwork layout knowledge from experienced foremen and superintendents. Sample hand sketches of the formwork layout were the foundation for the Tekla Structures formwork components that were created.

"Accurate quantities from the model helped in verification of estimated quantities and concrete pour optimization. One of the biggest time savers was 3D visualization of complicated areas instead of trying to visualize it from 2D plans. This ability saved on guesswork and rework."
Karl Goeking, Concrete Superintendent on UC SCDigital Arts Facility

In addition, considerations for erecting the formwork in complex areas like the bottom of beams, around steel columns and wall openings, at wall transitions, were incorporated into each of the components. These components are now being used on other concrete projects in the company resulting in knowledge transfer and increased efficiency across projects; which has always been a challenge in the construction industry.

Quantifiable benefits

Like other BIM activities using Tekla Structures, formwork layout automation saved the field crew considerable time by eliminating the need to layout formwork for every wall in the building manually. The layout drawings were then given as handouts to the foreman to erect the formwork in the field.

Formwork layout has traditionally been a 2D process, field situations are often overlooked, inadequately accounted for, resulting in stripping and redoing of the formwork. By generating the formwork in 3D, complex issues and project specific issues were easily identified and preempted at an early stage. As a result, there was no rework related to formwork erection on this project.

With Tekla formwork modeling we were able to rapidly try out various formwork options enabling us to choose the arrangement that worked best with regards to cost and constructibility. It also helped us reuse the same formwork material most efficiently in the next portion of our work. 

Karl Goeking, Concrete Superintendent on UC SCDigital Arts Facility

Furthermore, the Tekla Structures model helped the superintendent to manage material and pour size definition. The model was useful in identifying the panels that could be reused between pours resulting in cost savings. Formwork panels were prefabricated on site based on the Tekla Structures model. Quick generation of formwork arrangement helped the team run through multiple scenarios of how to arrange the panels so that minimum material and field cuts were required.

For example, a vertical arrangement of 16’ high panel was better than a horizontal arrangement as it required fewer panels and in turn less material and labor. Savings in material and labor to construct and put into place formwork assemblies are estimated at $25,000.

“Tekla Corporation is pleased to see DPR take Tekla Structures into use to solve problems and add efficiency,” says Andy Dickey, Business Manager of Tekla North America’s Contractor group. “It’s interesting to see how Tekla Structures has been used in this case to increase both ‘office’ and ‘field’ efficiency. In the case of the office, formwork layout and drawings have been automated thereby creating efficiency and cost savings. In addition, they have freed time to look at more efficient ways of installing their formwork, creating increased value in the field as well. These are the real problems facing the industry and it’s great to see an innovator like DPR solving them.”

About DPR

DPR Construction, Inc. is a forward-thinking general contractor and construction manager specializing in technically complex and sustainable projects for the Advanced Technology, Corporate Office, Healthcare and Life Sciences markets. A privately held, employee-owned
company, DPR has grown to more than $1.7 billion in volume, making it one of the largest general contractors in the US and a great story of entrepreneurial success. Founded in 1990 by Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski (The D, P and R), the company’s mission is to be one of the most admired companies by the year 2030.

DPR continuously looks for opportunities to improve the construction delivery process and provide a higher level of quality service on projects of all sizes and complexities. A proven leader in green building, building information modeling, and lean/integrated project delivery, DPR has built projects for such world-class companies as Apple, Banner Health, Bayer, Digital Realty Trust, Genentech, Kaiser Permanente, Pixar Animation Studios, The Scripps Research Institute, Sutter Health, and Yahoo! More information at