Atlanta-based Tekla recently released Tekla Structures 14, the newest version of its structural engineering BIM software. Version 14 streamlines the design, detailing, fabrication, and construction delivery process by expanding the maximum model size the program can support, streamlining the user interface, improving data storage, and including previous add-on features—such as the ability to model rebar—in the standard license.
“We want to offer solutions from design all the way through to facilities management,” said Andy Dickey, Tekla’s construction management segment manager, who noted that Tekla, founded in 1966, had a BIM program before BIM was even a term. “We had a lot of legacy issues and many older users needed to be transitioned to the new way users work,” he said. “It’s more logical and easy to understand now.”
The biggest improvement in Tekla 14 is the new network license management system that’s dongle and shipping free. With the new system all licenses are in a pool on a server. As users launch Tekla Structures they can grab a license out of the queue until their server runs out; only then does a window pop up and prompt the user to contact Tekla.
Many BIM programs have entitlement-based licensing systems that require a license administrator to e-mail out license information or otherwise contact a user manually. The automated network system can grant temporary entitlements on weekends, after-hours, or whenever you want to begin using Tekla.
“The new licensing system is a major step forward in using Tekla Structures in a true collaborative environment,” said BIM coordinator Stuart Bull of Arup’s Sydney, Australia, office.
Multi-user capabilities have been improved, too. Project alerts pop up when other team members modify a BIM model. Hard-drawing locks allow engineers to keep other team members from changing key structural elements. There are also soft locks that allow changes but keep original drawings intact if other members want to change back. You can always see which drawings have been modified and by whom.
The user interface and menu structures were totally reorganized from their look in the last version. Thirteen file menu items have been trimmed to 10. Tekla commissioned the Georgia Institute of Technology to collect user button-click statistics and make suggestions for streamlining the user interface. As a result, the user interface and menus are focused more around modeling than button-click tasks.
Running on 64-bit Windows operating systems and new software code optimization enables Tekla 14 users to more easily work on larger, more complex projects. The maximum model size has been doubled from the Tekla13 version.
The ability to model rebar is now available in the standard design license, which costs $10,000. Before, the only place you could model reinforcement was in pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete detailing licenses, which ran about $25,000. The ability to number individual pieces and interface with manufacturing equipment, however, is still available only in the detailing licenses. A new splice tool for rebar and bending tools and tools for hollow-core concrete design have been added, too.
“This is directed toward contractors and engineers who aren’t doing manufacturing processes,” Dickey said. “With embedded rebar there are so many more objects necessary and the program needs to be able to handle more objects.”
Improved BIM file-format exchanges make it easier to visualize and find constructability issues for structural framing created within Tekla Structures. This improvement also makes it easier to detect clashes, find design and schedule conflicts with nonstructural trades (such as MEP), and review various architectural elements of a model. You can visually compare different versions of BIM files referenced into the Tekla Structures model.
New intelligent drawing tools allow you to interactively setup drawing templates and styles that teach Tekla Structures how to dimension and label different types of parts and assemblies in the model. This makes it even easier for you to automate drawing production to your firm’s specific standards.