Tekla: Reducing errors with model-based software - Albert Hogewoning

There is never any room for error in the world of construction, but when vast aluminium structures are being assembled in remote, hazardous locations, the need for total accuracy is even greater. Bayards' technical director Albert Hogewoning looks at how Tekla's 3D-modelling software is helping construction firms overcome human error, saving time and money along the way.


Constructing flat-pack furniture without losing the will to live is a tough ask at the best of times. But patience is really tested when, inevitably, one of the holes is located in the wrong place, drilled at a diameter that is too small or isn't deep enough. It's a frustrating discovery, but one that can thankfully be corrected quite easily on wooden panels. Correcting these errors on aluminium, though, presents a much harder task.

The repercussions of human error on much larger-scale projects, an offshore oil facility for example, has the potential to cost millions and delay construction indefinitely. Bayards, one of the world's leading aluminium construction companies, builds a range of large-scale structures, including offshore platforms, helicopter landing pads and bridges. The various parts for each of these are manufactured in Holland and then shipped to wherever they need to be in the world, ready for assembly. Whether it's in the middle of the sea, or deep in the jungle, rectifying any mistakes in these hostile and hard-to-reach environments is a trying and expensive process.

In a bid to reduce any errors in its projects, Bayards has adopted a more accurate, efficient modelling method during the design phase. While project drafts would have originally been hand drawn, all of its designs are now created using sophisticated software.

"It's quite a nuisance if you're in the Indonesian jungles and your product doesn't fit or match," says Albert Hogewoning, technical director at Bayards. "Originally, our designs were done in 2D and then the parts were manufactured to be supplied anywhere in the world. What we have embraced now is a completely 3D design, to the very last detail. And for that we use Tekla Structures."

Best laid plans
Software company Tekla has been producing information modelling software for construction, energy and infrastructure industries from its Helsinki base since the 1960s. Now a global brand - Tekla has been part of Trimble Navigation since 2011 -to mark its 40th anniversary in 2006, it opened an office in India. For Hogewoning, the 3D-modelling software Tekla Structures has proved invaluable.

"Aluminium is still more specialist than doing anything on steel structures, so the opportunities of altering the product or mitigating problems are very low," he says. "It means we need a proven system that is actually able to provide clients with a genuine 'what you see is what you get' scenario and that allows us to fully ensure the end design of the product to that detail."

Though each design Bayards undertakes will be unique, the Tekla Structures software program is helping Hogewoning's team greatly increase the speed with which they can design, develop and ship.

"You have to completely redesign the product over and over again, but what we have gained with using Tekla is speed," he says. "It allows you to use certain macros or routines that are easy to copy into every new project - thereby reducing the overall time spent designing the 3D model."

Not only is the software proving a technical success, it is helping Hogewoning and his team capture new business, allowing them to demonstrate to prospective clients the feasibility of their project and precisely how Bayards would construct it.

"It's also generated the model in a lighter way - keeping the files manageable," says Hogewoning. "It doesn't allow the draftsmen to make mistakes and though it's still quite new ground for us, it is developing rapidly. What I like is that they're giving us the support we need. Overall, it has proven to be a great step forward."

Bayards’ technical director Albert Hogewoning.
Models created with Tekla Structures can be viewed with a number of different platforms.