Automation speeds up design of offshore structures

Paul Boughton

The construction industry once thrived on drawings, schedules and specifications written down. Now the industry has the capability to share that same information digitally throughout a project, from concept, through to structural design and ultimately construction.

When it comes down to it construction companies must adapt to how information is inputted, shared, stored and utilised or risk missing out on efficiency, accuracy and cost savings along the way.

One company that has benefited from using business information modelling (BIM) is Iv-Groep, a multi-disciplinary Dutch engineering company, based in Papendrecht, Netherlands. The company has a large global network and often collaborates on complex projects, making it sometimes challenging to ensure all input is accounted for.

For example, Groep’s subsidiary, Iv-Oil and Gas, designs offshore oil platforms. Once the designs are approved they then get passed on to another subsidiary, Iv-Consult Sdn Bhd. This subsidiary, based in Kuala Lumpur, then handles the detailing and produces the workshop drawings for the topsides of the oil platforms as well as their jackets, the tubular foundations piled into the seabed to anchor the platform.

It’s crucial that all information is relayed and accounted for during the handover process and that errors are mitigated against. Using software, like Tekla Structures, enables oil and gas companies to increase productivity and reduce errors during the design, fabrication and construction processes all the while saving time and potential waste of materials.

According to Robert Van Der Waal, the director of Iv-Consult Sdn Bhd, Tekla plays an important role in the company: Tekla Structures software enables us to work much more cost-effectively,” he says.“Over the years, we have automated almost all beam-to-beam connection macros as well as polygon welds within Tekla Structures,” Van Der Waal continues.

This automation speeds up the designing of basic structures and thus allows the designers to focus on more challenging work.

The 3D models produced using Tekla software are also used by the fabricators in various ways depending on how the fabrication facility is automated.

“Within Tekla Structures, we have extended the functionality of the user-defined properties so that we can generate a wide range of additional information about the parts,” says Van Der Waal. "For example, in the last two years, Iv-Consult has offered its clients the option of modelling all the welds of the structure into the detailing model. The properties of these welds include weld type, size, volume, number and length. As a result, an extended weld list of a particular area, or floor or even the whole structure can be provided. This is highly appreciated by our clients’ fabrication planning officers as it is a big time saver."

Iv-Consult has been using Tekla for more than a decade, and over the years the company has made extensive use of the software. Iv-Consult has been handling the bulk of the workshop detailing for the Iv-Groep since 1999 and it has been responsible for hundreds of major structures around the world.

“We have found Tekla Structures to be a strong tool to help us produce a quality product. At the same time, it has helped us to meet our clients planning targets that are often very tight,” says Van Der Waal.

“I have a detailing background and started with the company as a detailer myself in 1992. Since that time, the productivity of an average draftsman has improved enormously with the help of this software programme. In the beginning, on average you spent 25 hours on one handmade A0 size drawing. Later with the 2D software, this decreased to an average of 15 hours for one A0. Today, with Tekla, we take about seven hours to produce one drawing, which includes modelling time," states Robert Van Der Waal and summarises: “Therefore, it is reasonable to say that moving from hand drawing to 2D, we saved about 40 percent of the time spent on an average project. With Tekla, we have saved another 50 per cent as we moved from 2D to 3D.”

Apart from offshore structures, the company has used Tekla to design the complex steel structure of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s skylight, a 4,200-ton cable bridge in Germany, a 1,900-ton hanging cable bridge in Belgium, a 650-ton pipe lay stinger used for offshore pipe laying and many other types of steel structures. In the Netherlands, Iv-Consult relied on Tekla to design lockgates that are widely used to channel water in the many waterways of the country.

In addition, they are currently designing new lockgates for the Panama Canal. Each lockgate there weighs about 4,000 tons.

Tekla’s technology creates new opportunities for the offshore construction industry. Tekla provides an accurate, dynamic and data-rich 3D environment that can be shared by offshore contractors, structural engineers, steel detailers and fabricators, as well as concrete detailers and manufacturers.

Tekla Structures can handle larger and more complex projects compared to other 3D modelling solutions.

Tekla software lets you model and detail all kinds of standard profiles and materials, including tubular and elliptical sections as well as individual welds and bolts, and integrate the modell to all offshore industry standard packages, such as pDS, pDMS, SM3D and Sp3D. With Tekla it’s possible to create welded beam to beam connections according to offshore requirements including complex ratholes and scallops, complex weld preparations and correct polygon welds.

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