C+S April 2021 Vol. 7 Issue 4 (web)

A series of motivating factors is incentivizing the rapid digitization of civil infrastructure design, engineering, and construction, as well as operations and maintenance. The cumulative events of global popula- tion expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, climate change, and the recognition of the need to foster greater industry resiliency because of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand a more rapid digital transforma- tion of the industry we all serve. To put a finer point on this, the G20 nations-backed Global Infra- structure Hub estimates that by 2040, the world must invest some $94 trillion in roads and rails, homes, commercial sites, and other built structures to keep society functioning. As countries emerge from the pandemic, now is the time to funda- mentally rewrite the script for how civil infrastructure projects are delivered. To realize the ambitious targets for high-quality, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure, will require the acceleration of digital transformation in the industry. Emerging technology drives better outcomes Emerging technologies in design automation and generative design offer the civil infrastructure industry, including both the public and private sectors, new potential to deliver infrastructure projects more effectively. Outcome based design automation enables designers and engineers to set specific goals from the start – for example, saving time, optimizing costs, reducing materials usage, or improving sustainability – and increases the likelihood of meeting them upon completion. Combined with setting parameters, design automation tools reduce repetitive, manual work, and are already demonstrating operational efficiency for designers and engineers, allowing them more time to innovate and to focus on design reviews for accuracy and quality, im- proving business growth and profitability. Generative Design, another example of design automation, helps users explore solutions to complex design problems. Using cloud computing and artificial intelligence, it augments a designer's ability to optimize and validate design options, helping them make a more informed final design decision. At global infrastructure firm Gannett Fleming, for example, the use of Dynamo for Autodesk® Civil 3D® on rail yard projects has slashed design time by generating the best site layouts for buildings and rail alignments. Design automation is the necessary future for civil infrastructure By Theo Agelopoulos

“Conceptual design is a manual, tedious and time-consuming process. We automate the design process to get as close to the final design as possible at the beginning of the project, “ says Stacey Morykin, Engi- neering Technology Manager at Gannett Fleming. “Generative design enables us to optimize a project and provide more value to our clients.” Optimizing the site design process Infrastructure projects, regardless of type, often require leveling or con- touring of the existing ground necessary to meet project specifications. This grading design is typically a manual, time-consuming process. Automated grading design tools, which Autodesk unveiled in spring 2021, work with user-defined constraints, such as allowable elevations and slopes, to process a series of iterations to generate the optimal design proposal. “Being able to define assets like parking areas, buildings and ponds, and assign grading criteria and let the computer provide options is a game changer," says Charles D'Errico PLS, IT Systems Analyst at Thomas & Hutton. “Traditionally, once the first grading solution was achieved, no other options would be considered due to time and budget limitations. Now, designers can evaluate multiple grading schemes, instead of the first valid solution." In a subdivision plan, automated grading design can help engineers more easily establish a balanced preliminary surface based on al- lowable slopes to zones within the roadway, roadway to building



April 2021

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