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From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 19 No 03 - MARCH/APRIL 2006
Autodesk Building Systems 2007 brings in new features from AutoCAD 2007 to make it easier for engineers to lay out Building Services
Autodesk Building Services (ABS) is one of several solutions that takes
advantage of some of the new enhancements in AutoCAD 2007. ABS 2007 is a broad
engineering product that works with AutoCAD 2007 to install ductwork, piping,
electrical and plumbing systems, building up object-based systems in 2D, 3D,
schematics or diagrams.
ABS 2007 can be configured to work the way professionals in each discipline usually work - plumbing in exaggerated diagrammatic form; drainage engineers in 3D (how else would you know if a drain was going uphill?); electricians in schematics - which can even be linked to appliances and have loads applied.
In fact, all of the disciplines can be linked to analysis packages, such as IES and Cymap, so that room surveys can be conducted to provide optimum heating conditions, work out the size and number of boilers required, the number of lights to install to provide ample illumination to a workforce in the depths of a winter thunderstorm, and so on. Schematics and diagrams, being object-based, can be converted to rendered solid models (and vice-versa) to aid visualisation of the system, or users can mix and merge styles to suit their needs.
But the most important aspect of the software is the ease with which ABS models can be created. This is the area I found most interesting, as it uses a couple of the latest AutoCAD 2007 tools to make it possible.
DWF plan drawings are brought in as Read Only versions and overlain by the workspace, so that they can be used rather like tracing paper. To make it easier to do this, the DWF can be converted to a mono image, and faded out, to make the new structure stand out. Over the top of the DWF the users can then create Spaces - the volumes the engineer needs to lay out his services. Previously, AutoCAD only allowed users to define areas. A Space is a floor, laid out by drawing over and snapping to the DWF plan, and adding dimensions to give the room height (ending up with the volume, plus the ceiling void).
Doing this for the whole building creates a series of spaces - a pseudo model of the interior of rooms (Rather like an Angela Whitbread construction!). Once the space has been created, the user can specify, and drop in, a working grid (say 600x0600mm). The grid is easily positioned and constrained by the spaces, and by creating it for one room, can be extended by dragging it around and snapping it into the other spaces. This is used as the guide to lay out the ABS services.
All of the equipment that the engineer will need is to be found in the ABS palettes for each discipline; terminals for an air conditioning system for example, which can be set into a part of the grid and then laid out, using a pattern function to create a bank of terminals.
After specifying the air flow requirement to be, say, 80m a second, the software calculates the diameter of ductwork required between each of the terminals, and the engineer lays out the ductwork to connect each terminal, routing it to the air conditioning unit and to other spaces. The software can re-calculate the ductwork requirements as each set of elements is added.
By converting the schematic to a 3D model, the engineer can visualise the layout. He can also start adding specific components, such as flanges, valves, and so on, dragging them from the component palette, and snapping them onto the ducting.
At this stage, the model can be used to check for interference, or clashes with other geometry, by running ABS' Clash Reporter. If the software identifies a problem area, the whole network of ducting can be moved, parametrically, to alleviate the problem.
All components are labelled with duct sizing, etc., and by clicking on parts of the model, engineers can read out such variables as flow rate, velocity, pressure drops, friction loss and other values.
Other new features in ABS 2007 include an improved ease of migration from lines and arcs (enabling, for instance, users to convert AutoCAD 2D symbols to ABS content), the ability to work with enhanced AutoCAD commands in ABS, and the implementation and customisation of ABS templates. What’s more, the software, according to Simon Jones, Product Manager for Autodesk Building Systems at Autodesk, includes vastly improved tools for creating more realistic toilets. Don't ask!
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