Since the rise of building information modeling, engineers have been working on projects in a growing number of software programs that are designed to facilitate ever more specialized tasks. Platforms such as Revit, Grasshopper, Tekla, Ram Structural Systems, ETABS, and SAP 2000 have given the field increased capabilities and efficiencies in all stages of the project engineering process, whether it be defining geometry, analyzing loads, documentation or fabrication. However, when multiple team members, often in geographically distant locations, are working on a single project across multiple platforms there can be breakdowns in coordination and communication. Work can accidentally be done on out-of-date models. Simultaneous and contrasting changes can be made unbeknownst to the team until it’s too late. And then there is simply the hassle of going back and forth between platforms to ensure that the models are consistent with one another.
It was to solve these inefficiencies in communication and collaboration while working across multiple BIM platforms that we at CORE studio began developing TTX, our in-house interoperability software. Starting in 2011, CORE studio sought to create a means for making two-way changes to models during all three stages of the project engineering process: defining geometry, analyzing loads, and documentation. To do this, TTX establishes a database that stores every update made to a BIM model in any platform, maintaining an up-to-date record of the condition of a project. It automatically translates the updates to other software platforms when they are used to open the model. So if a Revit model is updated in Tekla, it can be brought back into Revit, where TTX will update the Tekla changes automatically from the information stored in the database. This sort of automatic back and forth translation can be carried out as many times as necessary, in as many software platforms as are needed to complete the project.
The next series of blog posts will introduce a number of apps developed at the CORE studio that help engineers at Thornton Tomasetti to collaborate better.