The M4 Smart Motorway will introduce a smarter way of travelling the M4 by
using real time information, communication and traffic management tools to
provide motorists with a safer, smoother and more reliable journey.
The M4 Smart Motorway will be the first smart motorway for NSW and will bring
together intelligent traffic technologies in one place to maximise the
performance of the motorway.
Arup was awarded the Detailed Design of the M4 Smart Motorway project, which
consists of approximately 47km of the M4 Motorway in Western Sydney being
upgraded to enable the installation and operation of “smart motorways”
technology to enhance travel time and driver safety.
For this project and others, Arup had a strong push from innovative team members
to move to a paperless review process on major projects, and to generate
detailed federated models for projects. They developed numerous processes to
generate detailed federated models containing construction-relevant information,
but these models are not always useful for design technical reviews.
As such, Jeremy Harrington looked into the ability to undertake technical design
reviews within these federated models. He said, “This will be an ongoing task
that will continue to grow, but my first task was to develop a method to enable
review of a drainage design with respect to the hydraulic performance, within a
federated 3D model. This is something that is generally done through
longitudinal sections on drawings, or within 12d Model. My aim was to generate
an IFC format file export that can be used to review the performance of a
stormwater drainage network.”
One of the other major considerations for this project was that, when dealing
with large scale road design projects, the automation of longitudinal section
exports can be complicated, due to the need to include a superelevation diagram
which references unique strings for each carriageway.
In order to get around this, the Arup team had previously utilised a custom PPF
per control alignment, which was manually filled out to specify the relevant
road name suffix and superelevation diagram reference strings. This process
presented a significant QA risk, given that if a change to the standard PPF was
required, the user then needed to go through and amend every single custom PPF
to reflect this change - a very inefficient process which can lead to
inaccuracies and inconsistencies.
Mr Harrington decided to further automate this process by creating a large chain
which utilised parameters in order to manage the custom inputs required for each
control alignment. However, this method was also prone to errors, and required a
user with a strong understanding of complex chain creation in order to first put
together the chain, and then to make any changes moving forward, which in itself
reduced the efficiency of the process. Further innovation was required.
A further challenge faced by the Arup team was a common task in any road design
project - the identification and review of aquaplaning risk through flat spots
and superelevation development along the carriageway. Aquaplaning is assessed by
reviewing the path that a rain drop would take should it fall at a given
location on the carriageway and determining the build-up of flow depth along
that path, and the resultant risk factor that a car would be caused to
hydroplane should it cross this flow path.
12d Model software has a built-in macro that utilises the Gallaway Equation to
analyse the aquaplaning risk profile along a flow path that has been drawn by
the designer. This macro works well and has been a staple tool for generating
accurate and visual representations of the aquaplaning potential on past
However, Mr Harrington identified that the need for the designer to manually
draw a flow path was a limitation of that process for completing aquaplaning
checks, as it lead to the potential for human error, while also resulting in the
need to undertake quite a number of trial overland flow paths in order to
determine the worst-case risk area.
In a step towards undertaking technical design reviews within federated models,
Mr Harrington developed a custom 12d Model macro that was able to convert the
Hydraulic Grade Line into attributed trimesh objects. The macro contains a
simple panel which requires the user to only input the model containing the
drainage network to be reviewed, the output model for the trimeshes, and a
toggle to review pipes with names containing “dummy*” (see Figure 1).
Once the user selects a drainage network, the macro reviews the pit and pipe
attributes associated with each pipe reach in the network and gets to work
recreating the HGL information as a trimesh for each individual pit and pipe.
The trimesh for a pipe is created with a width matching the diameter of the
respective pipe, and the trimesh for a pit is generate to match the internal
shape and dimensions of the pit chamber, as well as provided a depth to meet the
invert of the pit itself, essentially showing the peak water level within the
pit. (see Figure 2 - headline image).
The pit and pipe attributes are also reviewed to identify key analysis results
information, such as velocity, freeboard, capacity, etc., which are then applied
to the trimesh objects to enable a simple technical review to be undertaken.
Similarly, when seeking to overcome the problem of risk of human error with
chains, and to increase efficiency and ensure consistent documentation, Mr
Harrington decided to develop another 12d Model macro. The ‘Arup Long Section
Plot’ macro has been developed to allow batch plotting of road longitudinal
sections with custom inputs automatically captured for each alignment. The macro
initially opens on to a simplified ‘Quick Plot’ panel (see Figure 8), which also
includes a prefilled Settings tab.
First time use of the macro requires users to fill out the relevant information
on the ‘Quick Plot’ panel, and then launch the ‘Detailed Plot’ panel (see Figure
9). Upon launching the ‘Detailed Plot’ panel, the information in the ‘Quick
Plot’ panel is assessed by the macro, and all control alignments in the Control
Model are automatically loaded on the panel for review by the user (the relevant
model is determined from the Design Stage and Control Model Suffix, as well as
Arup design standards).
As can also be seen in Figure 9, the ‘Detailed Plot’ panel allows users to
review and specify whether a control line is to be active or inactive in the
plot process, the start and end chainage for the longsection plot, and the
custom Title Pretext for each control line. The control Title Pretext is added
to each control superalignment as a custom attribute through the use of a
separate macro that Mr Harrington also created, and this attribute text is
automatically loaded into the ‘Arup Long Section Plot’ macro. Once all inputs
are reviewed and finalised, the user can save the information and return to the
‘Quick Plot’ panel.
Upon hitting the Plot button, the macro process is launched. The macro then
grabs the Default PPF as specified, where it modifies the inputs in a temporary
copy of the PPF for each control line. The superelevation cross fall strings are
automatically modelled through Arup’s standard snippets during the design
process, and are named under a strict naming standard which allows the macro to
automatically detect and specify these strings in the PPF for development of the
superelevation diagram. The macro modifies and then runs the PPF, which plots
the longitudinal section to a 12d model. The model is then modified to shift the
superelevation box into the correct location, before exporting the model to a
correctly named and mapped AutoCAD .dwg file, ready to be used as an external
reference for a set of design drawings with no drafting required.
During this plot process, the macro also generates two custom text files within
the current 12d Model project working folder. Two “*.ARUPDEFAULTS” files are
created (see Figure 10), one containing all the information entered into the
‘Quick Plot’ panel, and the other containing all information entered into the
‘Detailed Plot’ panel. The text file containing the ‘Quick Plot’ information is
automatically read back into 12d Model the next time the macro is launched,
prefilling the panel with the most recently used settings for that project. Upon
launching the ‘Detailed Plot’ panel, the macro interrogates the Design Stage
chosen and reads in the associated defaults for that Design Stage. This is a
beneficial process as it means that a large-scale project can be managed and
plotted numerous times with no need to re-enter a large amount of control line
information, such as custom chainage ranges – meaning a user can plot
longitudinal sections for up to 60 control alignments with a single click.
And finally, when needing to overcome the requirement for manual input with
assessment of aquaplaning risk, and trial and error required in order to find
the worst-case flow path, Mr Harrington developed yet another custom Dynamic
Aquaplaning macro for use within 12d Model (see Figure 3).
This ‘Arup Aquaplaning Assessment’ macro enables users to undertake a live and
dynamic check of aquaplaning risk along a design before specifying the locked-in
coordinates for the start of an overland flow path. The ‘Settings’ tab has been
prefilled to suit the requirements of Austroads Guide to Road Design Part 5, and
is essentially an extension of the settings included in the current built-in
Aquaplaning Risk macro which is shipped with 12d Model.
Once the user is comfortable with the specified settings, the Finished Surface
TIN can be specified on the ‘Dynamic Path’ tab (this allows for supertins). If
the user then clicks the select widget captioned ‘Use Selection to
Dynamic Flow Paths’ and hovers over the finished surface anywhere in a 12d Model
plan view, the macro goes to work. At this point, the macro gathers the
coordinates of the cursor and automatically draws a flow path from that point
until the flow string encounters an uphill slope, or the downhill slope exceeds
the maximum allowable slope specified in the Settings tab (see Figure 4).
The dynamic flow path that is being created based on the cursor position is also
dynamically analysed in accordance with the Gallaway Equation (1979), based on
the settings specified. The flow path is generated with each segment analysed
and coloured to visually indicate the risk profile, and the string is give the
flow line linetype to clearly show the path of the overland flow.
Once the user has identified a critical flow path, hitting the ESC key will
break the dynamic path generation, leaving a temporary flow path string on the
active plan view. The user can then pick the start vertex of the temporary flow
path to lock in the start coordinates for the overland flow that is to be
analysed and exported for use in design review documentation. The overland flow
path that is created has also been given attributes at each vertex displaying
relevant analysis information, much the same as the built-in 12d Aquaplaning
As per the current 12d Aquaplaning Risk macro, the user then has the option to
specify a relevant Reference String, as well as the model on which to generate
the flow path, whether to clean that model before creation, and where to export
the aquaplaning check results .CSV file that is generated by the macro.
Lastly, the macro includes a check box to specify whether to launch the custom
Microsoft Excel aquaplaning results template file. This is a simple
macro-enabled Excel spreadsheet which has been developed to load in the results
that are exported to CSV and display them in a presentable manner (see Figure
This macro is essentially an extension on the capabilities of the current
Aquaplaning Risk macro that is shipped with 12d Model by default. However, by
building in the ability to automatically and dynamically determine and draw an
overland flow path from the cursor position, this macro has applications outside
that of standard aquaplaning checks. It can be used to review flow paths
anywhere in the design or survey model to further inform the road and drainage
design, and it removes the potential for human error. This can assist designers
in identifying the best locations for inlet pits and kerb breaks to efficiently
manage the capture of overland flows during rainfall events.
The macro has also been further developed to create a trimesh of each segment of
the resulting flow path, with all design check and flow risk attributes added to
each trimesh. This trimesh creation allows the user to export the aquaplaning
risks to IFC which can then be reviewed in a federated 3D model environment such
as Navisworks, allowing the design review process to move away from paper-based
Mr Harrington’s macros have been used on a number of projects within Arup, and
have dramatically increased efficiency and design consistency, which
significantly reduces the need for any drafting input, saving the team time and
money across the board.
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