Multisuite Solutions website

 

Concrete and Steel

by David Chadwick: CAD User Magazine

David Chadwick looks at MultiSUITE which provides an integrated suite of packages covering both the structural steel and concrete detailing markets - both of them often combined within a single project.

Steel and concrete detailing are two specialist construction areas that are not covered to the extent that the industry requires within basic AutoCAD modelling packages, hence the need for companies such as MultiSUITE to develop applications that sit on top of the software to provide the tools that they need. Customers of such software can be found in the oil and gas industry, process plant, consultants and fabricators - from oil rigs to farm gates.

MultiSTEEL 3D was the first full 3D AutoCAD based product, and now the company is very much the market leader in the field. The suite of tools that MultiSUITE provides cover both steel and concrete detailing, and, because both products are integrated, they are also ideal for structural consultants who have to deal with both materials.

MultiSUITE is the core structural product for many companies who need to integrate their structural data, whether for steel or reinforced concrete. The software can also be used as a link to structural analysis and other tools through MultiSUITE's Integrator family of translators. MultiSTEEL, for instance, can import a structural analysis model and create an intelligent 3D structure within AutoCAD from the basic geometry. Steel fabricators can take a MultiSTEEL 3D model and export it instantly to their own automated detailing, only needing connection details before automated drafting and CNC links can kick in. Similarly, plant and process design companies can benefit where the MultiSTEEL model can be exported to their 3D design system for visualisation and clash detection. MultiSUITE support a number of non-AutoCAD based systems such as PDMS which is used extensively in the oil, gas, process, and chemical industries.

The concrete detailing element, MultiREBAR, can import reinforced concrete design data, and also export to many makes of reinforcement fabrication machinery via the Steel PAC system, and other formats.

Although 3D modelling offers benefits in certain industry sectors, 2D drafting is still the primary requirement and end product for many structural design offices, and it has been MultiSUITE's strengths in this area that has won it many customers. MultiSTEEL and MultiREBAR are based on a core 2D drafting module called MultiDRAFT and this addresses virtually every area of 2D drafting, annotation, scaling, layering, and the general management issues that can be a nightmare for CAD Managers to control, even in the most disciplined drawing offices.

According to Peter Bass of MultiSUITE, the software's strong 2D drafting and detailing capabilities have enabled them to participate in an interesting new trend, where companies are placing the detailed design of major projects in so called " low cost engineering centres" in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Far East. MultiSUITE has been well received here where the comprehensive management tools in MultiDRAFT offer major benefits.

Compliance with International Standards both for steel and concrete work, has been a priority for MultiSUITE, and all major standards are built-in and supplied with the standard package. The system is also highly configurable to local detailing standards through MultiSUITE's open architecture, and both Metric and Imperial Unit systems are supported.

AutoCAD is still essentially a single user system and this is highlighted in 3D modelling where the restriction of single user access to the model drawing can be a major limitation, especially on large multi-discipline projects in the oil,gas and process industries. One of the main reasons for MultiSTEEL 3D's wide adoption in this industry is the flexible working methods available. Users can work entirely in 2D if preferred, and MultiSTEEL 3D will then assemble the 2D frameworks into a comprehensive 3D model taking full account of the 3D positioning and rotation of the frames. This has the advantage that a whole team of designers can work on large complex structures without hindrance, and the 3D model be instantly updated as the design progresses. The updating process takes account of changes in the design and carries forward all changes to the model.

Occasionally the user may have a basic 3D model as his preliminary design. An example would be a structural analysis model imported into MultiSTEEL. This initial model can be broken down into a set of 2D drawings which can then be worked up in detail and re-exported to create a more accurate design model. MultiSTEEL is aware of all of the main frame positions and slices it up to create the 2D working drawings.

MultiSTEEL 2D

The MultiSTEEL 2D module from MultiSUITE is a comprehensive steel drafting program for all AutoCAD platforms. At the heart of MultiSTEEL is a large Steel Profile Library, providing over 5000 steel sections, selected from International libraries, together with section information, properties and detailing requirements. Additional steel profiles can be added whenever required, and the library also contains cladding and purlin profiles. The software also includes a comprehensive connections library.

Sections can be shown in either 2D, 3D or stick format providing all, including 3D, visualisations of 2D drawings. MultiSTEEL produces intelligent steel objects that enable cutting lists, material summaries and steel weights to be produced instantly.

One of the particular strengths of the software is the powerful editing tools that allow steel properties, such as section type, size, rotation, justification, cutback, end gaps and skew angles to be changed quickly and easily, and steel can be mitered, broken or merged.

MultiSTEEL can also be used to provide material lists as the drawings are created, automatically allocating item numbers to each component, providing a direct link to the drawing schedule. MultiSTEEL drawings can, in this way, become working databases, providing total weights, surface areas, cutting lists and steel summaries.

The Workshop Module provides more specific detailing tools, such as notching for bolted and welded connections, and stiffener and gusset place commands. Other connections, including plate cleat, angle cleat and end plates are supplied parametrically, their parameters being derived from dialogue boxes, or retrieved from the connection library.

MultiSTEEL 3D Options

MultiSTEEL is available as '2D only' for structural arrangements and detailed drawings, or '3D only' for non-structural specialists such as piping designers for clash checking - or as a 2D/3D package for maximum flexibility. This 3D Suite is based on advanced 3D modelling tools and can be used with standard clash detectors and rendering software. To support these tools, it comes with comprehensive viewing commands for rotating and interacting with models. These are particularly important on large complex 3D models which are commonplace in the oil, gas and process industries. MultiSTEEL retains the positioning of the main structural grid so that it can be used to isolate and view the 2D floor levels and vertical frames in simplified form. Placing additional steel on these frames is then an easy task, and as these are effectively views of the structure, the 3D model is instantly updated.

MultiREBAR International

MultiREBAR provides a complete concrete detailing and scheduling environment for civil engineers and structural designers. Adhering to all international standards for reinforced concrete, the software simplifies much of the repetitive work involved in concrete detailing. Bar details can be drawn, scheduled, labelled and edited very easily, even for detailers with limited experience of AutoCAD.

Bars are created in the same way that lines are drawn in AutoCAD, automatically snapping inside predefined cover lines. As new bars are created, they are automatically allocated a bar mark and added to the drawing schedule.

AutoCAD lines and polylines can even be formed into 'intelligent bars' allowing existing CAD drawings to be converted very easily, and, as they are drawn, they are checked for code compliance. Editing features enable bars to be stretched, trimmed or extended with standard AutoCAD commands.

Like MultiSTEEL, the software comes with a Concrete Member Library of foundation bases, pile caps etc which can be inserted into drawings automatically. Linear and non-linear varying bar ranges can also be calculated, along with required lap lengths, curtailment points and anchorage lengths. Automatic schedules and weight summaries are an integral part of the software, and can be calculated instantly, then plotted on the drawing, or printed separately.
MultiREBAR contains an 'audit' command that can be used at any time to check for consistency between drawings and schedules and built-in checks and search commands eliminate bar duplication and dimensioning errors.

MultiSUITE and AutoCAD

For many customers, an ongoing concern is compatibility of applications with new AutoCAD releases. Customers no longer have the luxury of staying with one AutoCAD version for several years and only upgrading when necessary, as Autodesk's upgrade policy encourages frequent upgrading. The onus is on developers more than ever to guarantee fast compatibility with new versions.

In recent years MultiSUITE has put a lot of emphasis on flexibility of installation for its products and all modules can be installed with its Network Licence Manager, giving users access from anywhere on their network. This floating licence concept allows users to check in and check out of applications as needed, and improves the overall productivity of the software by just improving user access. The NLM can even operate across WAN based networks sharing licences between offices if required.

On the same theme of productivity, MultiSUITE is available for all Autodesk drafting platforms, and for customers whose requirements are primarily 2D, MultiSUITE is also available with the AutoCAD OEM technology built in, and supplied as a stand-alone system on a single CD.

 

 

Typical complex industrial steelwork
project where designers will employ MultiSTEEL for its extensive 3D
modelling and 2D drafting capabilities.

 

 

Industrial Heater Project where MultiSTEEL provided the integration needed between various stages of the structural analysis, design, and production of final
construction drawings.

 

This RC detailed drawing was prepared
with MultiREBAR. All bar bending
schedules are created automatically as part of the drawing process.

 

 

As well as comprehensive steel and reinforced concrete detailing functions, MultiSUITE provides all of the general
drafting tools needed for any civil
or structural drawing.
(click image to enlarge)

 

 

As well as stand-alone operation,
MultiSUITE provides full networking
capability simplifying management
of the system.

For further information on the MultiSUITE please also see the corporate site www.multisuite.com


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