What is the function of the ProDesk module?
ProDesk is a Building Information Modelling (BIM) tool that assists with the flow of information between Autedesk Revit® Structure and Prokon Frame Analaysis.
For as long as software has existed, there has been a need to transfer information between various systems. PROKON Structural Analysis, for example, has for many years included the ability to work with CAD drawings and documents of various formats. More recently, the need for collaboration and information sharing amongst design professionals has advanced to a higher level—Building Information Modelling (BIM).
The current state of BIM
At the time of writing (June 2008), Autodesk is the undeniable leader of the pack with their Revit® family of products. Revit® Structure is a tool in the hands of the structural engineer, and is supplemented in the other disciplines by Revit® Architecture and Revit® MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing). Revit® and other similar products have opened a whole new world of opportunity for collaboration, improved productivity, and ultimately better designs.
Presentations at the 2008 ASCE/SEI Structures Congress confirmed a growing adoption of BIM by structural engineers working on building projects. There are strong indications that industry will soon reach the tipping point for BIM acceptance—the majority of structural engineers and building design professionals will likely be using BIM by 2009.
Structural modelling in Revit®
The power of BIM lies in the fact that one is no longer drawing lines in CAD, but rather
modelling objects like beams, slabs and columns. Detailed information about these
objects is stored in a model database.
In the Revit® context, any change made to an object, automatically reflects in all plans, sections, elevations and schedules. In a broader context, BIM-enabled structural design and fabrication software can use the same information and respond to changes made to the model. The benefits of using BIM soon become obvious: early error detection in the preliminary design phase, fewer errors during detail design, and increased all-round productivity.
PROKON Bulletin Revit® Structure allows one create an incredibly detailed building model, and apply point, line and area loads. It also has the ability to model complex support conditions such as releases and springs. All of this information can be transferred into the PROKON Frame Analysis module using ProDESK.
Transferring a model to PROKON
ProDESK is an add-on for Revit® Structure that helps you to transfer your complete building model from Revit® to PROKON Frame Analysis. In spite of the complex translation process that goes on in the background, transferring the model is a simple procedure for you, the user:
- Open the model in Revit® Structure.
- Click the ProDESK (transfer to PROKON) button on the toolbar, or select it from the Prokon menu.
- Follow the prompts to convert the information into a sound structural model in Frame Analysis. Depending on the objects present in the model, this may include setting parameters for finite element mesh generation.
Beams and columns are transferred directly with their correct section profiles and orientations. Pad and wall footings are transferred as point or line supports. Slabs and walls are meshed using quadrilateral shell finite elements.
The transfer procedure offers you a great degree of control and flexibility. When transferring a concrete slab, for example, Frame Analysis’ advanced Mesh Generator will guide you through the process to ensure that a suitable finite element mesh is created.
You have the option to transfer an entire model from Revit® to Frame Analysis or, if you wish, selected portions only. If you transfer a single floor level only, columns passing through that level are modelled as supports in Frame Analysis.
Transferring a model from PROKON to Revit®
In some cases, it may be more convenient to build your model in Frame Analysis. ProDESK allows you to be flexible, and has the ability to transfer models from Frame Analysis models to Revit®. To facilitate this interaction, ProDESK has a function for creating “family files” for sections in the Prokon Section Database. The Section Database is also directly available from within Revit®, allowing you to add new sections on the fly. All of this interoperability guarantees time savings and a standardised model transfer.
Linking with the PROKON concrete design modules
Once you have transferred a model from Revit® to Frame Analysis, you can proceed to detail design and reinforcement detailing, and finally transfer the reinforcement back to the Revit® model.
Your workflow would typically be is as follows:
- Build the model in Revit®.
- Use ProDESK to transfer the model to Frame Analysis.
- Make any needed modifications to the structural model, e.g. enter loads if you have not done so in
the Revit® model.
- Perform the frame analysis to determine the design forces.
- Use the Design Links function to generate design input for concrete bases and columns.
- Perform the necessary design checks and generate reinforcement.
- Use ProDESK to transfer the 3D reinforcement layout back to Revit® model.
This procedure can be used to reinforce groups of bases or columns (that are similar in
function and dimension) at the same time.
Reinforcement detailing using AutoCAD® and AutoPadds
The fact that contractors still prefer working with simple 2D reinforcement placing diagrams, suggests 2D reinforcement detailing will remain the preferred technique for the foreseeable future. For this reason, Revit® is currently marketed as “suite” that includes AutoCAD® – reinforcement and other 2D detailing is typically performed in AutoCAD® and the drawings linked back to Revit®. AutoPadds is a new addition to the PROKON suite of programs. It is an add-on for AutoCAD® with reinforcement detailing functionality similar to that of
Padds. AutoPadds complements and extends the reinforcement functionality of Revit®.
With AutoPadds, you can detail reinforcement directly in AutoCAD® and work with bending schedules generated
by the PROKON concrete design modules. You can also link reinforcement layouts created with AutoPadds into your Revit® model.
To use AutoPadds for detailing reinforcement in conjunction with a Revit® model:
- Build the model in Revit®.
- On the File menu, use the Export function to export a slab or floor layout to CAD format.
- Open the exported drawing in AutoCAD, and use the AutoPadds functions to detail the slab.
- In Revit®, use the Import function on the File menu to import the CAD drawing into the model.
Once linked this way, any changes made in the AutoCAD drawing (including rebar changes made using AutoPadds) will automatically reflect in the Revit® model.
The future of BIM
In years to come, further improvements to Revit® will add to the success of BIM. Support for integration formats such as Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and improved reinforcement modelling in Revit® would undoubtedly provide for even smoother sharing of information between Revit®, PROKON Structural Analysis and other software.
BIM is not yet a magic formula for all design projects, but amazing things are on the horizon with a technology that is still maturing. While others are waiting for that to happen, ProDESK is providing PROKON and Revit® users the much needed BIM link today.
The information contained in this article was compiled using Revit® Structure 2009 and version 2.4 of ProDESK.
Revit and AutoCAD are registered trademarks of Autodesk, Inc