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Digitizing Paper Doll Plans for Tilt-Up

Español | Translation Sponsored by TCA

By James Tapper, president, JMT Consultants

Concrete tilt-up panels are cast on-site, typically on the building floor. The construction team needs to know exactly where they will place formwork and lay out the panels to be cast on the slab before safely and efficiently lifting the panels into their final positions. 

Panel geometry, panel weight, crane path, and crane capacity all influence where panels will be cast before construction. Project managers often cut out scaled pieces of paper that represent each of the tilt-up panels on the project. These pieces of paper are then manually placed and held with tape on a printed plan drawing of the building. Project managers will sometimes even have to stack panels to get them as close to their final position as possible, while also optimizing the panel layout and formwork. Some project managers can take up to two or three days to do all of this work. When they are done, they take the large, taped-together plan and get it digitized on a specialty scanner so it may be emailed to the rest of the team. This two-dimensional plan tends to leave out details regarding how tight panels will actually be on-site and what panel bracing will look like as panels are erected in order.

JMT Consultants creates detailed, three-dimensional (3D), digital models of all panels on a project in order to create erection plans, panel book drawings, and lifting designs for the construction team in the field. This 3D model includes openings, reveals, edge chamfers, embeds, inserts, panel braces, and even reinforcements. All of the connections interface with the cast-in-place footings and slab as well as structural steel framing into the walls, and they are all modeled together in one environment preventing clashes and connection mismatches. 

We discovered that this rich, 3D model contains everything required to do the panel layout for our concrete construction clients. So, rather than just providing panel books and erection drawings, JMT can lay out the vertical in-position panels on the floor slab in the digital model in minutes without any printing, cutting, or taping. If the design changes and the model updates, then the layout plan can be easily adjusted in the 3D model. A 2D plan drawing that looks like the traditional paper doll plan can be automatically extracted from the 3D model for the field and emailed to the project team as a PDF file. 

Not only can we expedite the creation of the panel layout plan, we can publish this 3D model to be used by the jobsite and project manager on their mobile devices using Trimble Connect. The field can rotate to any location or orientation to visualize exactly how the panels should be placed in the field and the exact order in which they should be constructed.

The project team can also immerse themselves in a life-size, virtual reality environment using Oculus Quest headsets and collaboration software Prospect by IrisVR. Here are a couple of images from our detailing project manager in one location, showing him wearing an Oculus Quest virtual reality headset as he collaborates in real time across the country with a detailer as they discuss potential construction issues. In this case, both parties were able to see a clash in real-life scale and talk live on a digital jobsite. Not only could they see the issue together, but they could also redline it and take snapshots to be automatically sent to their desktop computers. Being immersed in this life-size, virtual environment improves the ability for professionals to catch sequencing and construction clearance issues as compared to a 2D paper doll plan alone.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.