Staalgoed Handel B.V.

Quickly a 3D reinforcement model with low error rate

18-05-2021 | W. van Wijngaarden

Are you curious about how we can quickly work out all those beautiful 3D reinforcement models and clear 2D reinforcement drawings? For example, for your ordered Construction Kit? In this article we give you a look behind the scenes of our engineering department. Here we work with Tekla and use our own plugins. In the past year a lot has been developed which has made modeling more efficient, resulting in clear models.

Innovative start

In civil engineering, working out the reinforcement in 3D is already fairly common, but much less so in residential construction. From the start of our company, we have focused on the latest 3D modeling techniques. We want to work as efficiently and transparently as possible, whereby production machines are directly controlled by our software. After comparing different programs, we opted for the 3D modeling software Tekla Structures, because it is the easiest way to export data to our website. Together with programmers Tim Haverkamp from Tekniq Solutions and Jeroen Weistra from Apix Development, we have developed all kinds of plugins, using the Tekla Open API, that have improved 3D modeling for us. Other terms used for plugins are tools, components, macros and applications. Because in our case it is really about custom programming, we will use the term plugins in this article.

Reasons for our own plugins

Tekla has many possibilities and as a software package is of course suitable for several types of users. Since we only work out reinforcement, and especially for the (residential) construction sector, we only use part of the program's possibilities. All the functions we don't use are actually noise. And for some functions that we do use, the program requires a lot of clicking in tabs and menus. We want to have the functions that we use a lot easily and conveniently at hand, without all kinds of “unnecessary distractions”. Moreover, making mutual agreements about a uniform working method is easier with own plugins that can only be used in one way. And ultimately, of course, the goal is to create a reinforcement model with which a customer order can be filled directly and as completely as possible with all materials. Enough reasons to have our plugins programmed!

  • Reasons for own plugins:
    - used functions directly at hand
    - clear and organized
    - simple uniform work agreements
    - quick quotation and filled shopping cart for customer
 3D reinforcing model with BS plugin
Figure 1. Screenshot of 3D model with the plugin.

A reinforcement drawing in less time

Of course, modeling faster and more efficiently means as little clicking and typing as possible. The more done with one click, the more efficient. We achieve this in various ways.

Direct modification

Fewer clicking and typing in menus and less tab switching means faster work. This has been achieved by means of options for direct modification, custom programmed for us. Within Tekla direct modification is already possible to some extent, but not specific enough for the functions we use or not directly accessible. Tim Haverkamp's programming work has greatly increased the options for direct modification for The creation of 3D reinforcement models has become 40% faster in this way. For example, if we now insert a link cage into the model, we can make the link cage longer or wider by dragging the mouse and the program will automatically adjust the values ​​that go with it. A flying end can also be made longer or shorter by dragging and this is immediately applied to the entire link cage. Instead of having to enter the values ​​manually in the menu. Sounds logical? Yet we were one of the first in this industry to work with this!

  • With direct modification, we started modeling 40% faster.


Video 1. Direct modification with the plugin - super fast modeling


Automatically manufacturable products

With direct modification, manufacturable products are also generated in the model. We can enter reinforcement products such as a rebar cage or U-link cage, for example, in one long stretch or circumference and then it is automatically converted by our customized plugins into lengths that can be manufactured by the production machine. Suppose we need a concrete beam in a foundation of 28 meters, we just click on the start and end point of the beam and indicate that rebar cages should be inserted here. The program then turns them into cages of up to 6 meters. Instead of having to draw separate cages in the model. In this way also U-link cages can be inserted with a few clicks into a floor with a laborious shape.


Video 2. Direct modification with plugins - automatically manufacturable products and quick changes to the model

Making changes more efficiently

After seeing the quotation, the customer calls to say that the dimensions and/or shape of the floor will be different after all. As a modeller you will recognize that you sometimes have to sigh. It may seem like small changes, but it often takes a lot of time to modify the 3D reinforcement model. In the past, this meant changing the shape first and then adjusting the reinforcement. With our plugins, we can modify the shape of the floor and, for example, the U-link cages are automatically modified. Modification time down and less sighing!

Automatic calculation of covering materials

After creating the 3D model, a shopping basket has to be filled with all the materials for the customer. Based on the model, all the required reinforcing mesh, rebar cages and additional bars are known, but of course there are also covering materials such as  concrete and plastic spacers needed. Integrated in the plugins we have a function to directly calculate the cover materials of floors, beams and walls. We export this to the shopping cart with the press of a button.

Automation 3D to 2D

We create the reinforcement design in 3D. After all, this gives the best insight into how the reinforcement runs and where any bottlenecks are. Moreover, the latest generation of reinforcement machines are controlled with 3D information. But in practice, 2D drawings are used for the assembly plans. Converting from 3D to 2D required quite a bit of manual work and therefore time. After entering many pre-programmed sets of assembly plans into Tekla, 2D reinforcement drawings are now automatically generated from the 3D model. By selecting a project template in advance, for example foundation or basement, 2D assembly plans are generated automatically.

 Dashboard 3D naar 2D
Figure 2. Dashboard for converting 3D to 2D

Low error rate

Where people work, mistakes are made, and that costs time, money and creates annoyance. It is well known that with automation, fewer mistakes are made; after all, you are less dependent on the good or bad mood of the modeler. With the plugins, it is almost difficult to make mistakes in the model. The plugins contain only the functions that we use in a way that is convenient for us. There is no need to click through all kinds of tabs where a mistake can be made with each step. There are simply fewer buttons to operate. In addition to the plugins that ensure a low error rate, we have a dashboard programmed for us that allows us to accurately check the export of the created model to the shopping basket for deviations in kilograms of reinforcement. The check takes place per phase (foundation, floor, wall). Any export errors by the programs are thus detected and can be quickly resolved.

  •  By using the plugins and a control dashboard, the margin of error is low.

Customization is our standard!

As you've read, everything falls and stands with customization. Because we have our plugins custom programmed by Tekniq Solutions and Apix Development, we can also provide our customers with customized reinforcement design and custom materials. Customers receive from us when they provide a structural drawing:

  • 3D model of the reinforcement,
  • clear reinforcement drawing of all prefabricated parts,
  • detailed elaboration of the reinforcement,
  • assembly plan of the reinforcement,
  • clear and numbered parts list, which corresponds to the assembly plan and the labels on the reinforcement.

We have already improved a lot, are far from finished developing and are still bursting with ideas to make modeling of reiforcement more efficient.

After reading this article, would you like to know more about the plugins we developed? Would you also like to work with handy plugins and do you want to control production machines directly? Then please contact us.

Contact us directly