Pushing the boundaries of design innovation
Arup moves from 2D to 3D with 12d Model
Arup, founded in 1946, is an independent firm of designers, engineers,
architects, planners, consultants and technical specialists working across every
aspect of built environments. The company employers over 14,000 specialists
working across 90+ disciplines in 34 countries.
Arup won the contract for Parramatta Light Rail, a major road and rail
project in western Sydney. This involved re-routing traffic onto different
streets to allow for the construction of the light rail. The project covered
many different areas, which required multiple solutions and different
disciplines. The client was also keen for the design to be delivered in a
digital space rather than just on paper, and deadlines were very tight.
Traditionally, Arup had designed roads in one package and structural designs
in another package. But constantly switching back and forth between CAD and 12d
Model, from paper to digital and back, took up a lot of time. Instead, Arup
decided to use a BIM approach and find a more efficient and collaborate way to
design, making it a truly "digital engineering" project.
12d Model was chosen as the software solution because it enabled everything to
be done digitally, in 3D. To start with, Arup invested time in setting up and
customising the project. This effort quickly paid off as things progressed,
because it saved a lot of time and rework down the track.
By using 12d Model
as the single source, Arup was able to have all the different disciplines in one
place, working collaboratively.
"We could design out any issues that we saw
right at the start, rather than leaving it to the end of the project and then
picking up errors and having to go back and do rework," explains Jarrod Dixon,
Senior Designer, Arup.
Another improvement was being able to do all the
design verification checks within 12d Model. Previously these had been done
outside of 12d Model in 2D, but now all the turning paths, sight line checks and
so on could be done in a 3D 12d Model, enabling designers to review as they
The client could visually see the benefits of the system and was "on
board the whole way through the design phase".
"Usually, you'd have a roll
plot on the table, and when they asked for it a couple of times during meetings,
we said, well hang on a second, have you got a HDMI cord? And we just plugged in
the model and after doing that once or twice, they were on board," says Danny
Wilcox, Designer, Arup.
CAD plans, when required, could be generated straight
from the 3D models. This meant very little drafting - with only one drafter
being employed on the entire project.
One section of road works had a complex
structure for a widening. Arup created a model showing the 4D changes in time of
how the structure would be built and how the road would stay live at the same
time, and then how the rail could be added to that at the end. "It was quite
interesting to see, and the people's faces in the room when they saw it all come
together. It was pretty cool," Danny says.
By doing this, they were also
able to give the construction team a better idea of the different phases and
staging of the project. This gave them a better idea of how much the project
would cost, and where they could improve construction methods to deliver the
project more efficiently - a method referred to as "5D BIM".
The team also
used lots of snippets and macros. Smart snippets were used to automate and
streamline the design process, allowing users to have different inputs into the
snippet. This changed the code in the background to enforce the way that they
modelled and keep everything consistent, producing consistent outputs and saving
Macros also helped save a lot of time. One macro was created to
dynamically carry out aquaplaning checks, so designers could move around and
pick the worst areas easily. Vehicle paths were also an area that the team
invested time in, because they were usually done in CAD, which was very
iterative, hard and time-consuming work. Now these are all computed within 12d
Model, they move with the design as the design changes and can then be exported
straight to PDF or straight to a 3D model.
"The way 12d is set up to allow
you to customise inbuilt panels with macros is pretty cool. So, anytime you hit
a bit of a stumbling block where you want to do something completely different,
you can dive into a macro and really nut it out and get something cool," Danny
Another macro was created to automatically recalculate and output lines
of sight. The client wanted to get as many trees into the precinct as possible,
which meant Arup needed to check sight lines at every single driveway and
intersection, to ensure that trees weren’t obstructing the view. In a 2D plan
this would have been largely guesswork, but the 3D model allowed them to see
exact views. This included being able to see the true scale of signage, such as
speed signs versus four pole directional signage.
"The Parramatta Light Rail
project has set the standard and set the bar for how we're going to work in the
future. We’ve done a scope with surveyors and got them on board in terms of
giving us improved information. We’ve worked with Transport NSW to standardise
the schema of the attributes that we want applied to the data so that we can
manipulate it in different ways within 12d Model. And there's a bit of a push to
get that outside of Arup as well and make that a real standard and bring
everyone's level up," Jarrod says.
BIM approach with 12d Model offered unprecedented coordination. Different teams
and disciplines were all able to collaborate on the design.
customising and standardising the project at the outset, and using 12d Smart
Snippets and Macros, hundreds of hours of work and rework were saved.
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from 2D to 3D, designers were able to clearly see exact lines of sight from any
angle. Taking this to 4D, with the time stages of the project added, helped the
construction team find cost efficiencies.