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Orly Bisquera
Orly Bisquera
Orly is a Solutions Specialist with Microdesk's Civil Engineering team. Applying his significant experience in public infrastructure design, he specializes in providing civil engineering technical support, consulting services, and technical training to infrastructure engineering clients throughout … More »

Working it: How Autodesk InfraWorks is Revolutionizing Infrastructure Projects

August 24th, 2015 by Orly Bisquera

In a world that is constantly changing and rapidly growing, having a stable infrastructure is vital to the economy and everyday life.  It’s fair to say, we take our infrastructure for granted and only give it the attention that it needs when something goes wrong or is in need of repair, resulting in interruption of traffic flow, transportation of goods and utilities, and high costs.  The facts are clear that an aging infrastructure is inevitable. Roads, bridges and rail tracks age through usage over the years and damage due to natural disasters and accidents can speed up that aging process.

Transportation Departments and local governing agencies usually team up to create Operating and Maintenance Plans (O&M Plans) to keep their infrastructure in optimal condition.  O&M Plans usually are a direct result of a well-devised project plan and development at the birth of a project, before it even breaks ground.  In today’s economy, every dollar counts and every decision needs to be a good one in order to obtain a better world of transporting people, goods and materials safely and efficiently.  Autodesk’s Infraworks is the tool that can and has been making project planning and development for infrastructure designs better and more efficient.

Infraworks has revolutionized the process of project planning. With an intuitive interface, project models are quickly and easily generated in a 3D view, making design simple and fast for analysis and planning.  Multiple proposals of a single project can be developed so that conceptual design alternatives can be easily visualized.  From conceptual start to presentation finish, the process of designing is seamless, allowing users to optimize designing and analyzing in one platform.  Also, integration between other Autodesk toolsets for more detailed designing such as Civil 3D, Vehicle Tracking, Navisworks and Revit make the design process smoother.

With 3D models created in Infraworks, design concepts and intentions are simply understood and easily communicated to stakeholders from start of a project to the finish of construction.  Since its creation and release, Autodesk is constantly improving and developing updated tools for better conceptual designs resulting in better decision making and project management.  An update to Infraworks worth mentioning is Project Kameleon, which was released this Spring.  This updated feature is a free technology where users can access a trial of new infrastructure model content authoring tools that are compatible with Infraworks and Civil 3D.  Below are some points that demonstrate the new authoring tools as described by Autodesk’s Scott Sheppard’s article “It’s Alive in the Lab”:

  • The technology preview includes a stand-alone .exe Parts Editor that enables authoring Inlets, Manholes, and Culverts.
  • You can author Inlet Frames, Grates, and Underground Structures as separate part families and combine them to create Inlet Structure Assemblies.
  • You can also author Culvert Barrels and End Treatments and combine them to create Culvert Assemblies.
  • The part authoring workflow is tightly integrated with InfraWorks and includes the ability to post new part catalogs to InfraWorks models. Catalog conversion enables Inlet and Manhole Structure content to be used in AutoCAD Civil 3D.
  • A built-in shape library allows you to author parts using an existing set of parametric shapes and supports extending the shape library using a stand-alone .exe Part Shape Modeler to author new Inventor IPT shape files that can be imported by the Parts Editor.
  • Catalog (.ACCat) files now persist with the catalog units as inches or millimeters to align with changes to InfraWorks drainage catalog usage. The hard coded catalog dependency has been removed for the 2016.2 release.
  • The AutoCAD Civil 3D converter has a revised property mapping file to set grate sizes to AutoCAD Civil 3D frame sizes to improve the interoperability with SSA/Hydraflow.

Infraworks is definitely making a mark in today’s infrastructure world by being the software that is aiding in the planning and managing of government infrastructure projects in Brazil of South America.  Planners used Infraworks, enabling them to clearly visualize the potential of project design concepts, how it will impact the existing surrounding environment, and how it can be delivered.  One of the projects worth mentioning is the Laguna Bridge Project, which converted portions of highway BR101 into a multi-lane divided highway.

Similarly, “One Digital Factory” project, in Duisburg, Germany by HKM is another project that successfully utilized Infraworks with the creation of a comprehensive 3D model of a factory, including a complete 3D-Scan of the factory, and the creation of a 3D model of the factory and surrounding environment. With this model, the team was able to reduce redundancy and contradictory 2D and 3D data, which helps to boost productivity, reduce lead times for decision-making, and optimize inventory.

The Potomac Water Supply Program Visualization in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA by Dewberry & Loudoun Water used Autodesk Infraworks to assist in the development of a community outreach video for the program, communicating how the program is designed to protect the Potomac River by using an innovative water banking system.

The La Pata Gap Closure, Orange County, California, USA by Huitt-Zollars and Orange County Public Works used AutoCAD Civil 3D and Infraworks to significantly reduce the cost of a road project in Southern California.  InfraWorks allowed Huitt-Zollars to communicate with and update stakeholders during the construction on the project.

The future of Infraworks is limitless and it’s exciting to see what Autodesk will further develop to enhance this software to aid in the planning, designing and management process for tomorrow’s infrastructure projects.  It’s a great possibility that we’ll see better visualizations, more analysis tools for traffic flow, river and flood analysis.  We can dream the possibilities of new tools and analysis in Infraworks and hope that they come true.  But it’s evident and factual today that Infraworks has already improved infrastructures across the world, for a better future!

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