Jarrod E Hulme, production engineering manager, Watson Steel
Most of our projects are for advanced complex steel structures, because more architects are getting more adventurous. If they can design it, we have to come up with ways of manufacturing it.
Typically, an architect gives us a 3D model, originated in Tekla or any other format that can be integrated with Tekla. For each component, we then progress to a connection design [to position the bolts and holes], then it goes to the detailer. Then we have to work out how to make the component from steel efficiently, from the minimum raw material, and safely.
We create a mould for the parts, but when they’re cast we need to make sure they can be welded together. So we use a 3D laser scanning system — the Leica 3D Toolstation — to make sure the bolt holes are all within 1-2mm tolerances so that there doesn’t have to be rework on site. The Leica system checks against the parameters defined in the Tekla model.
We started this procedure on the Emirates Stadium, and we’ve refined it since. Without Tekla, we couldn’t have made the Orbit. Every single component had a specific connection, and there were no misalignments, even though there were approximately 7,000 bolt holes. Now it’s finished it’s fantastic, it’s a work of art.
Tekla is user-friendly, and we’ve been able to add our expertise in the form of macros, enabling the packages to work with our computer-controlled cutting and milling equipment and the Leica system.
We’re also working with Tekla on using the software to quantify our steel orders early in the process so we can order early and more cheaply.
The free-to-download BIM project collaboration tool Tekla BIMsight has been modified to work on Windows-powered tablet computers, making it suitable for use in the field. Version 1.4 of the software enables users to combine project models, check for clashes, mark up and share information using the same 3D environment, and adds support for touch-screen input or stylus use. A “saved views” feature enables more efficient project navigation, while a new slideshow feature helps users to deliver impressive presentations.
The Building Centre app for iphone and ipad provides users with detailed information on the centre’s latest exhibitions and seminars. It gives users a taste of what the Building Centre has to offer and keeps those unable to attend an event or exhibition up to speed.
The app also gives specifiers access to the online product specification directory specifinder.com, the first building product directory to utilise app technology, allowing access to over 10,000 product listings. The app can be downloaded for free at the Apple App Store.
JobFlowPlus, a software system that allows companies to remotely manage a vehicle-based workforce, can now be used on the iPad or Android tablet devices. The software allows head office to allocate jobs remotely to operatives in the field, using TomTom satnav technology.
The new system also allows customers to sign for the job on the screen, and the completed job form will be populated directly into Job Flow. The operative can then select the next job via satnav and is navigated there to repeat the process.