Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Civil 3D | Do you use Civil 3D for As-Built data?

Civil 3D is the king of the hill for Civil Design, and can develop elegant and detailed construction plans. Using Objects provided by the application, such as Surfaces, Pipes, Structures, Gradings, etc, revisions that would have taken a week can be performed in a day’s time. I did say ‘can be’. However, what happens after the plans are released, and the site is constructed? We need a CO, and what often stands in the way are As-Built plans that reflect the site improvements AFTER the construction.

As-Built Civil 3D Objects

In the past Engineers everything in the construction plans were line and text, and the only way to show the final as-built conditions of a development was to edit all the text. Today, Civil 3D uses dynamic Objects that automate the line and text process and updating these is actually easier than re-texting everything. The formatting and conventions are already taken care of by the styles in use, and calculations such as slope and length are dynamically updated. All we have to do is edit the Objects. Seriously, it’s so much better. One main reason is that we can then reference (and re-use) the As-Built Pipe Network in future designs and renovations.

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There is however one problem: When companies and agencies want to see Finished Grades vs Actual data (and similar situations). What do you do?

Most of the companies I deal with will add text to represent the final conditions adjacent to Civil 3D Object Labels. Unfortunately, that results in additional calculations that Civil 3D would have done, and now they will need to handle that themselves. I like the text, but instead use the adjacent text to represent the original design information. When I edit the Civil 3D objects, the original design information as for a reference. The main benefits in this method are the reuse of the Civil 3D objects, as well as no-frills text that you can move however you like.  To accelerate the process I copy the objects and labels to the side, explode the labels, and move the resulting MText objects back into place. Then erase all the left over object trash.

In the example shown in the images above, I copied the Pipe Label (so that two were attached to the Pipe), and edited the text. We can do that with Pipe Network Labels. I simply changed the style to one that had built in strike-throughs, and selected ‘Edit Label Text’. Then I use these to reflect the design information. This is a bit tedious, but no more-so than manually calculating and re-texting everything. I prefer the Copy – Explode to Mtext option for a number of reasons. Either way, this process is straight forward… until we get to tables.

Tabular Data

imageThe Civil 3D Tables are formatted with Object Design information, but have no place for editable text. What do you do in this situation?

We can expand the table and and left a blank section for a column of MText. It would be quite beneficial to have similar capabilities to edit texts as we have with the Pipe Labels. Unfortunately this is not the case since the tabled data is driven and created dynamically, where as the individual Pipe Labels are created by the user. Perhaps a free text option in the Table Cell Components might be nice, and related to the ‘Structure All Pipes’, or other Pipe related texts. These populate dynamically for each pipe – so we’d have a free text field for each pipe instance.

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Split Network is your friend

This workflow is a bit odd and definitely not ideal, but will cut the additional time spent with this process to almost nothing. COPY THE NETWORK and KEEP IT SAFE.

image I can’t say how large a network you can copy before disaster will strike you, but give it a try. Select all the Network Pipes and Structures, and copy them to a safe out of the way location. Unless you have to show old Alignment References, then there is no reason keep it ‘one on top of the other’ (In fact I’d very much recommend against it). The next step is to use ‘Split Network’, and choose the Create Network option. BAM ! it’s done, and now you have the original network and a new one (off to the side) to HOLD the Original data. Split Network is awesome, so here’s a shout out to Dana Probert (who first showed us) and the AEC design team for this great tool.

Here is the best part – The Surface FG references in the Structures will retain their design state elevations in the sudden absence of a Surface to reference (won’t go to zero).

In the image above I simply copied the table, and assigned a new ‘As-Designed’ style with wider offsets, and tagged it to the components in the New Network. Each Structure in the table now has the As-built data to the left, and the original design data to the right.

COPY NETWORK – SPLIT – COPY TABLE – CHANGE STYLE. That’s about it.

What’s your method or thoughts

Do us all a favor and add a line or two on how you get through this process. Would you like to see a solution within the Civil 3D package? Make a suggestion so we can get some useful ideas, and maybe even a product solution.