Planning and management software for concrete contractors

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When contractors create 3D digital BIM images of their projects, they can use them to estimate, plan, perform layout work, design the necessary formwork system, manage and account for costs.

Nowadays, when a construction company, especially a small construction company, bids for concrete walls or foundation walls, they usually receive PDF (portable document format) files instead of blueprints. from which to bid. However, some entrepreneurs are hesitant to use PDF files because the information is often incomplete. But most end up using them to calculate the amount of concrete, steel reinforcement, and other related materials, add an amount for labor, forms, and profit, and submit their price. If awarded the project, office staff construct shop drawings, begin construction planning, carry out fit-up work, and establish cost accounting procedures. In this process, a lot of time and effort is spent on estimating, planning, laying out and managing the concrete placements, some of which are redundant. With this in mind, Trimble Corporation, based in Santa Clara, California, decided to leverage its Tekla software (software that serves the concrete industry only) to provide concrete contractors with easy-to-use software. use who plans and manages all aspects of the formwork and concrete placement process. Their one-of-a-kind product is useful for businesses large and small, from residential foundations to large commercial projects.

Use building BIM

The concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM) dates back to the 1970s, but the technology only became useful for managing construction projects in the early 2000s when the technology was better developed and contractors started using it.

BIM allows contractors to create three-dimensional digital images of their work, accurately plan the materials they need, and collaborate with other team members throughout the life of the project. For many, this happens when estimates for new work are created. It speeds up the estimating process and facilitates the next steps in the initial construction process; material orders, planning, layout work, planning with other trades, cost accounting and many other features. Companies that use BIM can eliminate many repetitive tasks and be more productive. Plus, it’s very easy to create points and send them as digital files to robotic total stations to establish points and elevations for the structure being built. Digital files sent to robotic total stations can also be used to direct excavation and land preparation machinery. BIM is now part of the mainstream in construction.

Building BIM for formwork

From the beginning, Tekla software has focused on the concrete construction industry. The next logical step for them was therefore to design software that added forming technology to their established BIM product. Andy Dickey, business development manager for cast-in-place concrete for Trimble’s structures division, said he wanted the new formwork offering to be usable by contractors large and small – software they could easily use. themselves. They wanted it to be simple enough that contractors could quickly build their own 3D models and digitally lay out the forms with the same formwork system they planned to use for the project. For small contractors, the owner is usually the one who learns how to use the software and for larger companies, it is their estimators, project engineers or project managers who do the work. Dickey says contractors also save money using BIM software by eliminating many repetitive tasks.

During the building process, Tekla software guides you through several steps. The first step is usually the construction of a 3D model during the estimating phase of a project to determine the areas, volumes and linear quantities of materials needed to bid the job. When the job is contracted, the next step is to add the formwork system chosen for the job. The software provides considerable automation to facilitate this step.

Part of the new formwork offer includes a “formwork warehouse”, where information on formwork systems from each recognized manufacturer, as well as some generic systems, is represented. “Currently, we have both Peri and Doka (two of the largest forming manufacturing companies in the world) forming systems cataloged in the system, as well as a few generic systems,” says Dickey. “Eventually, we will have almost all of the form makers’ products in stock.” To automatically place forms for your project, select the formwork system you are using and drag it along the digital wall or foundation wall template you created for your offer. The software provides you with a 3D view showing the assembled forms in place as they should be laid out. Work crews can use it as a shop drawing; easily sent to iPads or jobsite tablets so they can see how forms need to be put together. If you prefer traditional formwork drawings, Tekla software can also be used to automatically produce a set of 2D formwork drawings.

All formwork systems include ties and bracing systems, so there is a common logic for the software to use. This allowed Tekla to easily automate the placement of formwork in BIM drawings. For example, when you select the formwork manufacturer and the formwork system you are using for your project, the software automatically places the pins and clamps where you want them. It also installs the braces and supports where they should be located for the proposed wall. Dickey adds that if you change your concrete placement locations or placement schedule, spacer and bracket locations can be easily changed to accommodate those changes.

Work with the program

John Sadosky, owner of A&J Concrete, Las Vegas, Nevada, specializes in high-end commercial and occasional residential concrete work. He said they started using Tekla software about three years ago to model concrete and rebar for their projects. He thinks the software is amazing and keeps improving in terms of functionality. When working on estimates, they create models to determine material quantities. “Having the model makes it easier to communicate with a project’s architect and engineer when we have questions or need clarification,” he says.

When they build a model for estimation purposes, they take it to a certain point. Later, when they are hired for the work, they add to the model without redoing anything. They then use the model to define points with robotic total stations, locate errors before construction begins, plan concrete placements, and monitor work.

Sadosky says there are four people at his company who use the software, including himself.

Who is the software for?

If you are a residential foundation contractor and frequently encounter projects in hilly areas where there are frequent elevation changes for footings and formwork, Tekla’s new wall formwork software can be very useful and save you a lot of planning time. Foundation contractors who specialize in building custom homes will also benefit.

For many commercial projects, contractors often rely on their form fabricator to provide form layout drawings for their project. But there can be delays when manufacturers receive requests from many contractors who all want information at the same time. This is an added incentive for entrepreneurs to learn how to use the software and make their own digital layouts.

If a project is large enough to include different concrete mix designs for parts of a structure, this software also allows you to manage the project by mix design. This is made possible by Trimble’s patented concrete placement, planning and management technology.

To start

The reluctance to learn new technologies, especially digital technology, is perhaps the biggest stunt to growth in the construction industry. Big companies try to minimize this reluctance by hiring students fresh out of college who are trained to use it in school or by hiring professionals who are already familiar with the technology. However, small businesses often lack this capability, they must provide opportunities for existing staff to be trained and coached. Acknowledging this, Dickey says they offer a range of training opportunities that include classroom training, on-site learning, and online training. Businesses can also pay an annual fee for telephone access to a “help desk” to help staff when needed. The software can be purchased or rented.

The video below provides a quick view of how the new software works:

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