The rising prominence of prefabrication in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry highlights the sector's progressive transition towards more efficient and sustainable building practices. Prefabrication — where building components are built in a factory before assembling them on-site — offers tangible benefits such as time and cost savings, reduced waste, and enhanced quality control, all while helping to mitigate the challenges of retaining skilled labor. By embracing prefabrication technologies and methodologies, companies can better navigate the complexities of modern construction, meeting tight schedules while adhering to rigorous quality standards.
Capital Precast is an excellent example of the benefits of adopting advanced modeling software for precast concrete manufacturing. Located in San Marcos, Texas, this manufacturer is redefining industry benchmarks with their 80,000-square-foot facility, certified by the National Precast Concrete Association. With a comprehensive portfolio covering storm sewers to utility products, Capital Precast has always prioritized delivering high-quality products and services (Figure 1).
To ensure they could continue to offer the service they are known for, they sought to overhaul their operational procedures to improve data output, simplify drawing creation, and refine customer information presentation. Recognizing the need for software that could align with their ambitious objectives, Alex Calte was brought on board as a civil drafter in 2021. It was Calte who led the charge in implementing Allplan, ALLPLAN's state-of-the-art modeling and detailing software, to achieve these pivotal goals.
One of the main objectives for Capital Precast was to create professional-looking drawings to update their catalogue. By implementing the powerful Silhouette 3D rendering software of Allplan, they were able to showcase their models effectively and generate eye-catching layouts for future use.
Allplan's simple drafting tools allowed Capital Precast to provide clear and concise dimensioning and other crucial details on the drawings that would help reduce customer inquiries about basic specifications down the road. By presenting information clearly in their catalog, Capital Precast aimed to save time for both their team and customers, allowing for more focused discussions on complex structural elements (Figure 2).
Visual presentation also played a vital role in their catalog, and the software enabled them to add color, shadows, and other visual elements to make their drawings pop. This enhanced the overall aesthetic appeal and customer engagement (Figure 3).
“We’re looking to make it eye-catching to new customers and for our current customers as well,” Calte said.
While an updated catalog could enhance Capital Precast's bottom line with sales and customer relations, Calte also had his eyes on the technical capabilities Allplan offered that could make his job as a drafter more efficient.
He sought advanced features to improve their modeling and detailing workflows. Accurate weight calculations were a priority, and the software's ability to set parameters such as density greatly enhanced their precision.
By reducing the time spent on drawing and modeling, the team could devote more attention to detailing and presenting information in a cleaner and more accurate manner. The software's capability to model rebar placement (Figure 4), define spacing and clearances, and generate bar schedules for ordering streamlined their workflow significantly.
The company also valued Allplan’s smart built-in features that allowed them to quickly construct structures without starting from scratch every time. These features include ways to present information better visually and add color and shadows for clearer drawing presentation. These time-saving measures increased efficiency and productivity within the design process. Furthermore, Allplan's smart dimensioning capabilities were a valuable asset to Capital Precast. As they made changes or additions to their structures, the dimensioning automatically updated, eliminating the need for manual adjustments. This feature ensured accuracy and consistency throughout the design process, saving time and reducing errors (Figure 5).
“Learning Allplan has been easier than expected. Thanks to some of their self-teaching tutorials and videos, I was able to get a good grasp on the basics and experiment with some of their newer tools and functions. And anytime I come to a stop and need to learn something, there's always a video already made showing you the process step–by-step. There hasn't been too much that I've needed to know where I couldn't just look it up and find it,” says Calte.
With the ongoing adoption of the advanced modeling and detailing software of Allplan, Capital Precast is successfully achieving their business goals and experiencing unexpected benefits along the way — such as how easy the software was to learn.
“Thanks to some of their self-teaching tutorials and videos, I was able to get a good grasp on the basics and experiment with new tools and functions,” Calte said.
He looks forward to expanding their use of Allplan and training his other teammates in the new workflows as they continue building out their catalog. In the future, Calte hopes to get structural and rebar models into the hands of their general contractors in the field.
As the demand for efficient precast solutions grows, Capital Precast’s successful implementation of Allplan underscores the importance of leveraging cutting-edge technology to drive business growth and deliver exceptional results in the precast industry.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in AECbytes sponsored articles are those of the sponsor and do not represent or reflect the views of AECbytes.
Michael Bullman, architect and senior associate with The Office of Charles F. Bloszies, FAIA, describes the implementation of AEC technology on the prefabricated housing project in Redwood City, California, designed using its own proprietary modular solution called step(1)housing.
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