Tekla Structures 14: Now with construction management

March 02, 2009 |

Last August I wrote about the dramatic changes in Tekla Structures 14 that revolutionized the user interface and licensing process of one of the oldest BIM programs on the market. Late last year, Tekla released Structures version 14.1, which includes a specialized component for construction management. The software still contains its comprehensive tools for detailers, fabricators, and manufacturers, but the big improvements come in tools for the actual construction process.


“What we’re really rooted in is construction BIM,” said Andy Dickey, Atlanta-based Tekla’s CM segment manager. “We even look at the engineering tools in Tekla as construction engineering tools. None of this is design with details to be filled in later.”


Tekla Structures has always been capable of working on large projects very efficiently thanks to a data structure that keeps file sizes low. Tekla is able to save and compress very large files without taking up too much memory or running too slowly. The new CM module takes full advantage of this capability to allow Building Teams to manage a project from conceptual design to pre-construction and all the way through facility management. 

Tekla CM brings in all the other disciplinary models of a project (MEP, structural, design) as references to allow the team to work from one consolidated model for construction management. None of the source models can be edited in Tekla CM for preservation of model integrity, but users can use Tekla’s robust tools to view the properties of the objects in the models as well as attach additional CM-related attributes to them such as cost, phase, RFI number, and change order number.


Following Tekla’s commitment to open standards, the CM module does not require the native models to be Tekla models. With its preferred industry foundation class (IFC) import model, any BIM model can be imported into the CM module. The program also allows scheduling data to be imported from leading applications such as Microsoft Office Project and Primavera P6. Individual tasks can be created within Tekla Structures using its Task Manager interface, which can be used to manage scheduled tasks and link tasks to their corresponding elements. The tasks can be used to create color-coded model views and 4D simulations of how the project is going according to its schedule. 

The CM module also includes automated Quantity Take Off in various formats, such as text, Excel (XLS and CSV files), HTML, and relational database (.NET). These QTO files can be integrated with estimating applications in the CM module. This allows users to create production schedules, simulate equipment models and plans, and manage supply chain logistics.


The most powerful arrow in Tekla’s CM quiver, though, is its selection and visualization tools, which allow different objects to be selected and displayed in different color schemes. Users can set up rules using the selection switches in the program to allow them to see different parts of the project in different color schemes to track completion. You can set up a rule to allow only concrete slabs of a certain size to be viewed, or beams of a certain thickness to be colored red. These rules allow the construction manager to see only the most important progress updates for a certain day — or hour — of the construction process and efficiently follow completion using the building information model. 



This model from Tekla CM was used by construction manager Barton-Malow on a recent project.



Finally, Tekla has expanded its partnership with Vela Systems to allow the CM module to work even more efficiently with Vela’s RFID tracking system to automate and update BIM models by scanned RFID from onsite tablet computers. This allows onsite data transfer to be used even more extensively than it was on the new Meadowlands Stadium project in New Jersey that I wrote about last April. BD+C

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