Collaborative, Efficient Design Processes with “Civil Design for Fabrication”

By Akio
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A Growing Global Infrastructure

As the global population continues to rise, worldwide spending on civil engineering projects is expected to grow. Emerging markets such as China, the Middle East, and Latin America will be looking to facilitate rapid increases in infrastructure projects quickly and cost-effectively.

To keep pace, civil engineering and infrastructure professionals will need to address industry challenges, such as managing costs and schedules, reducing waste, and improving efficiency.

One key reason for inefficiency in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) infrastructure projects is fragmentation. An integrated, collaborative environment would eliminate fragmentation, address business challenges, achieve higher quality, and improve efficiency.

Civil Design for Fabrication does just that:

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Processes with “Civil Design for Fabrication” [VIDEO]

Building Infrastructure through Collaboration

Civil Design for Fabrication provides collaborative access to design models and data. The solution creates an integrated Building Information Modeling (BIM) design platform that allows owners, designers, engineers, and fabricators to have simultaneous and real-time access to design models and project data.

Flexible Design Change

Civil Design for Fabrication enables the team to work in parallel, share data, and create a single-source mock-up. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform makes it easier to accommodate changes in design, such as from onsite construction dependency or a change in design direction at construction phase.

A template-based design method lets customers change the design quickly and easily. Users can work from a full civil engineering catalogue of reusable, adaptive 3D templates, or can create their own template for future use.

templates - Civil Design for Fabrication

Templates make it easier to accommodate changes in design, which can be frequent. Time is saved by importing prototypes from a list of components, which can be easily modified and instantly updated, ensuring consistency while reducing errors.

Large Model Handling

Infrastructure project planning and designing require holistic observation, since projects are connected between road tunnels, bridges and highways, and railways.

true terrain - Civil Design for Fabrication

Large BIM data like “true terrain” information is integrated into Civil Design for Fabrication, adding new geo location tools for more precise excavation calculations.

Design for Fabrication

The same platform of collaborative data is linked to fabrication data and to construction costs, quantities, specifications, and schedules. This will promote time-saving pre-fabrication, reduce rework, and cut waste.

Result: Efficient Infrastructure Projects

The outcome of using Civil Design for Fabrication will be integrated design, improved efficiency and productivity, faster delivery, and cost-effective design and construction.

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Processes with “Civil Design for Fabrication”

Related Resources

Civil Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

WHITEPAPER – “Civil Design Innovation: Innovative Industrialization Methodology Achieves Breakthrough in Civil Design”

New frontiers and costs of recycling

By Catherine
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Written by Catherine Bolgar

open dumpster full of trash

Are we recycling all we could? Organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, accounts for between a quarter and a third of the solid waste generated in cities—the largest single municipal waste stream, according to Eric A. Goldstein, waste expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York.

If you had to identify one key area of growth for recycling, it would be organics,” he says.

Organic waste in landfills becomes mummified or decomposes anaerobically (i.e. without oxygen), producing methane, a greenhouse gas whose impact on climate change is estimated to be 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.

Composted organic waste though becomes a natural fertilizer that helps soil retain moisture and hold carbon. A University of California Berkeley study found that a single application of compost led to a metric ton of carbon capture and storage per hectare annually, for three years.

However, “composting if done well isn’t cheap,” says Glenda Gies, principal of Glenda Gies & Associates Inc., an Ontario-based recycling consultancy. “It requires the right temperature, moisture levels and bacteria populations.”

There’s also the question of who’s responsible for the recycling. With plastic or electronics products, the brand is usually identifiable, even on discarded goods. The manufacturer may then be legally required to recycle them. But by the time organics become waste it’s no longer clear who the brand owner is, and recovery costs then pass to the municipality, consumer or business, “who have been reluctant to pay,” Ms. Gies says.

This hasn’t deterred some city and state authorities from taking a lead. San Francisco has introduced mandatory separate collection of compostable materials, which applies to all residences and businesses, says Kevin Drew, residential and special projects zero-waste coordinator at the city’s department of environment. Massachusetts banned food waste disposal by companies in 2014, sending organics to 49 processors.

Once there, organic waste is processed into methane through digesters (like at sewage treatment plants). And unlike landfills where the methane escapes, the digesters trap it and convert it into natural gas, while the residue is turned into compost. San Francisco and its service provider are building digesters, with the resulting gas used to fuel collection and transfer vehicles, Mr. Drew says.

There’s complete recovery of the energy and compost value in the waste,” he says. “I would argue that this program will be coming to every city in the world.”

colored clothingOther materials also have strong recycling potential. Only 15% of used clothes, towels, bedding and other textiles in the U.S. is donated or recycled, according to the Council for Textile Recycling, with the rest ending up in landfills. In the U.K., about 40% of clothing is re-used or recycled. But more can be done.

“There’s an enormous amount of textiles that are recoverable as clothing,” says Mr. Drew. “There are markets around the world that will take that material. We’re on a quest to recover more textiles.

Cost is key. With traditional recycling streams, such as paper, plastics and glass, changes in technology and commodity prices affect the willingness to recycle.

“Companies want to recycle to save money,” says John Daniel, president of Federal International Inc., a St. Louis recycling firm. “In general, companies will increase recycling to the point where it costs them money, and then they stop.”

Recycling bin with glassConsider glass recycling. When collected along with other waste materials, broken glass has to be sifted out at sorting facilities. This may have been worth doing when glass prices were high, but today, “at many facilities, it’s not cost effective to separate out that glass. A significant amount of glass put in recycling doesn’t get recycled,” he says.

Similarly, “when the price of oil was much higher, carpet was able to be recycled,” he notes. “Now it is almost impossible to recycle without the cost being higher than landfilling. The cost of recovering, transporting and processing the material is significantly higher than the value of the material.”

Virgin products may seem cheaper, Ms. Gies says. But if one were to factor in environmental costs—reflected in, say, greenhouse-gas taxes or obligations on manufacturers to recycle returned products—the resulting higher price might be more realistic, and potentially uncompetitive.

“The industry naturally will recover all material demand, provided it is cost effective,” Mr. Daniel explains. “As the price goes up, then recyclers have the ability to dive in deeper and start recovering higher-cost material. The best way to increase recycling rates is to improve the demand for products made from recycled materials. Our industry will take care of filling the supply.”


Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

Spotlight on Zahner: Improving AEC Efficiency Through Façade Design Integration

By Akio
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Some of the big changes in the AEC Industry are being pushed by A. Zahner Company, an engineering and fabrication company based in Kansas City, Missouri.

In January 2016, we met with Zahner representative Ed Huels, Director of IT / VDC Services, to learn how the company is responding to the challenges that face the AEC industry.

Edward Huels, Director of VDC service, A.ZAHNER COMPANY

Edward Huels, Director of VDC service, A.ZAHNER COMPANY

Zahner has a long history in the sheet metal fabrication industry, dating back to 1897 when it was founded by Andrew Zahner. The company went through several transformations, producing a variety of standard sheet metal applications.

In the 1980’s, L. William Zahner, took the reins as the fourth-generation great-grandson of the family business. The company moved beyond producing standard systems to exploring architecture as art, just as the design world was beginning to explore new technology-based design solutions.

Exploring New Capabilities

In the late 1990s, Zahner began working with Gehry Partners as a consultant, manufacturer, and installer on their team’s complex projects.

“Digital capabilities started to develop in the 1990s, so we were able to engineer products much more effectively,” says Huels. “It allowed us to define our building structures and create much more complex geometries than we could do using pen and paper.”

The company found its niche using parametric design to develop architectural designs.

By developing dynamic methods to output shop files, the company was able to accurately fabricate highly complex geometries in the shop.

“At the end of the day Zahner’s core business is as a fabricator, so being able to design those buildings with confidence and a high degree of precision was very important and allowed us to succeed in that market,” Huels says.

As complexity becomes standard in the construction, there’s one area in this evolving industry that could benefit from simplification: the relationship and communication clarity between owners, architects, and contractors.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “AEC needs a simplified relationship between
owners, #architects, contractors” -@aZahner

Need for New Relationships

Design-assist and design-build relationship — in which specialty subcontractors become involved in some cases before the general contractor is brought on board — are becoming a necessity for complex projects.

By bringing certain subcontractors into the process early, designers can reduce component rework and mitigate connection errors in the field.

Design teams typically bring Zahner onto projects early in the design phase to help prove that the architect’s concept is both buildable as well as feasible.

It also allows the design team to discover potential problem areas and develop design solutions.

Traditionally, the AEC industry is built on a downstream relationship between owner, architect, and general contractor. “That needs to be redefined because there are so many stakeholders who have expert knowledge how things should be done,” Huels says. “Expecting the design team to be experts who are able to sign off on everything – this doesn’t seem to work anymore.”

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sign off on everything doesn’t work anymore” -@aZahner

Huels sees one solution. “Legally and contractually, the AEC Industry needs to change from a 2D world to a 3D world.”

Instilling Trust

Zahner uses Dassault Systèmes tools to improve collaboration among all parties involved on a project and provide a high level of transparency to the designer and owner. 3D modeling allows their team to complete projects on-time and on-budget.

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@aZahner to complete projects on-time and on-budget”

It also enables Zahner engineers to easily address problem areas and conflicts early on in the process, and to demonstrate the feasibility of various design features at the earliest stages of a project.

Although all of Zahner’s work is done in the 3D environment, contractually the company is still required to produce a 2D drawing that is outdated virtually the moment it’s produced.

“We rely on the model and what it tells us. If we can instill that level of confidence and way of operating in the industry as a whole, I think that could improve everybody’s processes,” Huels says.

He adds, “If we could make the 3D model the contract document itself, that would go a long way toward improving the industry.”

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#AEC Efficiency Through Façade Design Integration

Related Resources

A. Zahner Company

Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

Whitepaper: Technological Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

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