MARAIS VAN HEERDEN The owner/operator should be able to view the overall project design and progress made at any time
Three-dimensional (3D) engineering design models can now be viewed on tablets, which enable stakeholders to view the design without having to buy the design software used to create it, says engineering design firm 3DDraughting executive Marais van Heerden.
The improved access to highly detailed 3D models benefits technical staff and engineers, as they are used to viewing designs in two dimensions and having to interpret the drawings.
Further, all users can make notes on the tablet version of the design, which are then sent to designers who make the necessary modifications. However, the designs cannot be changed or made on the mobile version of the software.
“Technical staff and all stakeholders of the project often have a difficult time accessing the full 3D design models, drawings and associated technical data of the project without paying large amounts for the software that the design firms use. However, the Bentley Open Plant design software that we use has a mobile tablet application (app) called Bentley Navigator that our clients and engineers can use to view these designs wherever they are,” explains Van Heerden.
Client feedback and interaction are key for 3DDraughting as they enable the company to manage its projects better, with high client satisfaction as the end result, he adds.
“The times where design engineers received a brief and design isolated from all feedback and input are gone. I believe the owner/operator must be involved and provide feedback during all stages of the project, and should be able to view the overall design and progress made at any time.”
The Bentley Navigator also enables users to take photos and attach them to the 3D model, and it can also save comments on the app that are then sent back to the design firm or project manager.
“The app does not require continuous connectivity to function and the 3D model, technical data and drawings can be downloaded from the managed environment and saved on the device. Similarly, the comments from engineers or clients are sent to the Bentley Navigator server and then distributed to the project manager and relevant people,” says Van Heerden.
He notes that the app is not free, but is cheap enough to provide all the relevant stakeholders with an accessible option to view the complete 3D designs.
“Mobility makes people more productive, as designers and engineers can view the designs anywhere and make comments, even if for ‘their own sake’ to use later when reviewing or modifying the design.”
Further, the fact that all stakeholders can access the complete and up-to-date designs of the project means that they can use high-quality information to make decisions and schedule their processes, be they construction or design processes, which also helps to make project management easier, he says.
Many of the stakeholders of projects that 3DDraughting has been involved in want to have access to 3D drawings, as they make the experience visual and interactive.
The Bentley Navigator mobile software is a connected, managed system – any comments and changes are, therefore, traceable and controlled.
“We foresee that this level of interaction between all the stakeholders of a project will be best practice in future. The concept of rich-design content accessible to those who need it is here to stay,” he concludes.