Arup is a global design engineering firm with the goal of “shaping a better world.” As a company made up of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants, and technical specialists, the firm lends its expertise across all aspects of the building process. Founded in London, England in 1946, the firm still makes its headquarters in the large city while maintaining offices across the world.
As a global company, Arup understands first-hand the importance of effective communication to get the job done and get it done well. In recent years, the company was getting feedback from the infrastructure team that the communication process between the infrastructure teams and the building teams on many projects wasn’t as smooth as it could be, due in large part to the teams working on two different Autodesk software platforms. Arup collaborated with Autodesk to develop a custom tool for transferring data between Autodesk® Revit™ and Autodesk® Civil 3D®, resulting in a more automated communication process and significant time savings during all project phases.
As a multi-disciplinary engineering company, Arup often finds itself delivering both building and infrastructure engineering services for its clients. The building team traditionally works on everything within the building footprint, and the infrastructure team works on everything outside of that footprint. On every project, there are key interfaces that require careful coordination to ensure a clash-free delivery to the client. Most often, these interfaces are found when designing the pipe and utility networks—an area where even a fraction of misalignment can cause issues later during construction and installation.
Arup teams were already avid users of Autodesk solutions, with the infrastructure teams working in Civil 3D and the building teams working in Revit. Despite this successful approach, the two teams found that communicating between the two platforms was challenging. If an infrastructure team member made a change to the model in Civil 3D, this change would not be reflected in Revit without spending 30 minutes manually preparing and transferring data between the platforms. This process was too time-consuming to do every time a change was made, so the teams made this transfer approximately once per week. But with the civil engineering team working on over 50 projects at any one time in London alone, 30 minutes per week adds up quickly, and the risk of working on out-of-date design information presented real challenges.
Since model changes were often only getting digitally communicated once per week, it meant important changes could go unnoticed for up to a week at a time—and occasionally missed completely. In one rare instance, a change went unnoticed until construction was well underway, and the resulting fix cost the project an additional £30,000 in rework. Arup knew the infrastructure and building teams needed a more effective way to communicate, save time, and avoid costly rework and wasted materials.
Arup recently signed an Enterprise Business Agreement (EBA) with Autodesk that opened the door for conversations about how to solve this issue. After some exploration, the team decided to collaborate with Autodesk Consulting to develop a customized solution that could solve the communication struggle between Revit and Civil 3D.
The key would be finding a way to better automate the process of transferring data between Civil 3D and Revit. The custom tools are designed to create high quality Revit models from Civil 3D inputs. These dedicated tools enable Arup to automatically export pipe network geometries from Civil 3D to Revit, while retaining the Civil 3D attribute data. The solution was designed for total ease of use, regardless of the user’s Revit knowledge level.
The tool first went through a series of testing phases, before launching on a real-world project. Arup uploaded the tool to its internal register where teams on any project can access and install it. For a year, the tool was primarily used on projects based out of London but is now expanding to other Arup offices across the globe.
Arup’s infrastructure team has been using this tool for about one year and saw a tremendous impact on the overall workflow and project communication. The data transfer process that used to take at least 30 minutes each week is now fully automated, taking no time at all. This automated process allows teams to quickly inform each other about relevant model updates as soon as they happen, ensuring clashes can be detected early. This transparency during pre-construction helps avoid rework in the future—avoiding unanticipated costs of about £30,000 in some cases.
More than saving money and time, the teams now feel more confident in the work they do daily on the jobsite. Having up-to-date information quickly reduces the stress of the unknown and helps avoid mistakes that could occur without streamlined communication. The newly automated process decreases the chance for human error, reducing project risk. This new way of working translates to a confident delivery to Arup clients, improving overall business retention.
Having a high-quality model available with the most updated information helps teams know they are delivering a high quality, clash-free project to the client. By resolving an issue at the project level, Arup’s ability to deliver world-class projects on a global scale can continue well into the future.
“This is the way the world is changing. Until fairly recently, the dream of automation has been a bit hard to grasp. But with tools like this, it’s clearer. We need to change the way we work, not only because our competitors are doing the same, but it can make our work much easier. Anything that can automate repetitive jobs is fantastic.”
– Rhodri Lea, Senior Technician, Infrastructure Team at Arup in London