|FHWA > Infrastructure > Bridge > Steel Fabrication > Automation Report|
Computer Integrated Steel Bridge Design and Construction
Theme Area 1: Computer Generated Drawings/Modeling and Electronic Information Transfer (Electronic Design and Drawings Transfer and Modeling)
Identify and document the various computer automation and data communication technologies needed to build cost-effective and quality bridges in a time efficient manner, from planning through in-service.
Existing bridge building processes typically involve time-consuming information transfer and approval procedures that involve traditional paper handling and document transfer between entities. Computer automation and data communication technologies could make this process faster, better and cheaper.
- Identify and evaluate existing internet file transfer formats for a) contract plans, b) contract documentation, and c) shop plan submittals and approvals. Electronic file transfer could be used for bidding considerations by contractors, fabricators, RFI's, shop drawing and erection plan approvals and contract documentation.
- Investigate potential for standardization of these formats (e.g., MicroStation? CIMSteel?).
- Monitor what is being done:
- In more advanced industries (e.g., automotive)
- On current Design/Build projects
- New York State with High Steel
- In Great Britain re: owner-exported central models to all parties whom each build on that model, resulting in a complete record of the project.
- Airports, Ove Arup, Cleveland Bridge, Strucad, Xsteel and NSBA
- Form multi-entity collaboration with several fabricators and owners to examine file formats, develop test cases, etc.
- Fabricators: Advocate and implement e-transmittal & e-redlining of shop drawings etc.
- Quantify benefits of 3D solid modeling (used in automotive industry) vs. 3D wireframe modeling.
- Identify data information constraints and hidden time delays between owner, fabricator, erector and contractor.
- Investigate CAM processes to utilize 3D model data in order to generate individual program instructions for various automated fabrication machines.
- Establish software (accompanied with training) enabling designers to generate 3D models of the structure. Fabricators, Contractors and Erectors could then download data from the 3D model directly into their computers for specialized processing.
- Flesh out corollary information to accompany 3D CAD model.
- Radically alter workflow with all aspects of design and design/construction information transfer on the computer.
- Software companies specializing in computer generated drawings and electronic data transfer systems
- University researchers
- AASHTO/NSBA Collaboration
- Fabricators using CAD
- Detailers using internet transfer
- AASHTO and FHWA could furnish funding and education transfer
- Lack of knowledge to manipulate computer data systems
- Contractual issues
- Consulting engineers think of their product as drawings
- Current fee structures and how work is priced
- Lack of coordination of computer data systems within Governmental agencies
- Security concerns
- Owners may want to limit software/hardware selections
- Faster process from contract bid documents to completed bridge
- A more reliable schedule
- Lower costs
- More accurate (construction process) and longer life structures
- Better record of contract history for potential compensation litigation
Theme Area 2: Standardized Specifications and Paperless Approval Processes
- Establish among various owners the same demands, expectations and flexibility, in order to facilitate automation and level the playing field.
- Enable owners, contractors, fabricators and erectors to work together for:
- Easier approval on changes
- Better communications
- More cost-effective structures
Current wide variations in owners' method specs prevent automation; standardized specs are needed to facilitate automation and the benefits thereof. Build partnerships, trust.
- Include mill certs in fab specs; don't restrict e-submittal.
- Allow UT in lieu of RT; consider auto-UT (review criteria used by fabricators in Japan). Who: (i) FHWA NDE validation center for tech changes in leadership; (ii) Joint AASHTO/AWS Bridge Welding Code committee for implementation in code.
- Review TWI-generated acceptance criteria and Japanese work in this area for possible direct use in US practice (fit-for-purpose based rather than workmanship based). Who: leading fatigue/fracture academics in US, UK, and Japan.
- Review research on (robot-friendly) operations which specs prohibit (re: laser/plasma cutting, drilling full-size holes, painting, etc.) Who: TRB Committee A2F07.
- Performance-based specs (rather than method-focused):
- Encourage states to work through issues that stymie standardization: AASHTO/NSBA Steel Bridge Collaboration.
- Begin regional implementation of Collaboration-authored fabrication spec: Collaboration and associated regional and local quality groups.
AASHTO T-14 (Steel Structures) needs to hear from fabricators, erectors, and G.C.s regarding constructibility with LRFD designs. Who: fabricators who attend T-14 meetings. Investigate robotic painting/metallizing technologies, reliability, payback. Who: Collaboration Task Group 8, Coatings. Fabricators and erectors need to inform AASHTO T-17 (Welding) and A-9 (AWS) regarding constructibility with LRFD designs. Review U.K.'s certification and auditing processes for fabricators and erectors. AISC Committee CFOS.
- Make fabricator certification have a category such that owners do not feel the need to have inspection hold points. Who: AISC Certification committee, with emphasis and interest expressed by member fabricators.
- Continue ongoing support of the AASHTO/NSBA Collaboration. All industry and owner leaders.
- Finish and implement Collaboration constructibility guide (Beckmann) and standard details (Gatti). Who: AASHTO/NSBA Collaboration.
- Certification of erectors: encourage owners to require. Who: Collaboration, through erection specification; AISC, through speaking engagements; NSBA newsletter.
- Establish certification protocols for robotic welders (Ref. ISO standard for mechanized welding, ASME 9): Bridge Welding Code committee.
- Enable PQR Reciprocity: Collaboration.
- More Design-Build-Maintain or DB(FO) - need paradigm shift: product as long-term monitorable facility not just fabricated steel: Information Mode, Training Mode Who: NSBA.
Potential Resources to Tap:
- Japanese fabricators and Ohio DOT: Auto-UT acceptance criteria and trial
- Turner-Fairbank NDE validation center
- AISC Certification Program/Committee
- Group 4 "Road Show"
- Reliability, payback
- Resistance to change
- Faster construction
- Competitive, cost-effective structures
- Higher quality, less defects
Theme Area 3: Standardized Design Details to Facilitate Automation
Objective and Rationale:
The design process should lead to a structure that provides the best lifetime value to the owner. Automation has been shown to reduce initial cost and improve quality in the final product. Enhancing bridge designers' knowledge of the total construction processes (fabrication, steel production, erection, etc.) will improve the quality of their designs. In addition, standardizing practical bridge details reduces cost by ensuring that details are constructable and cost-effective. Automation is cost-effective when repeatable tasks are included in the process. Performance-based specifications and increased automation open the door to new bridge types with more complex component assembly and without a cost penalty.
- Survey the industry to determine the effect of design decisions and specifications on the use of and potential for automation in fabrication shops in the United States
- Gather available data from sources to determine the impact on cost and speed of fabrication for design details in the industry. Evaluate the available information to determine if it is applicable to current practice and compatible with automated processes.
- Produce a Designer's Guide for Value and Economy in a Constructed Steel Bridge, hardcopy and online. Ongoing in the AASHTO/NSBA Collaboration.
- Virtual bank of pre-approved standard details that could be substituted by the fabricator.
- Produce a Fabrication Tour for Designers (Virtual Tour with system and equipment, describe how you build a plate girder through an automated process).
- Develop a Virtual Steel Mill Tour for Designers (plate and rolled shape mills)
- Make materials available for free download from the internet.
- Contribute to the development of Performance-based Specification for steel bridge design and construction to encourage creativity and innovation.
- Develop new steel design bridge types and specs that will make more effective use of automation.
- Develop incentive system for the designer to create bridges, which are the best value to the owner.
NHI, AISI, NSBA, Bethlehem/Lukens, US Steel, Nucor-Yamato, Oregon Steel Mills, Chaparral, individual fabricators, Regional Groups (Texas Quality council, SCEF, North Central States) State Bridge Design Manuals, Japan, UK, Value Engineering studies performed by states and FHWA, Alternate designs performed by states, FHWA and D/B, FHWA, AISC, State DOTs, EWI, TWI, Lincoln Electric, AWS, Hobart, AREMA, University researchers, Carolina Steel & others (shop tour).
- "WE'VE ALWAYS DONE IT THAT WAY"
- "WE TRIED THAT 15 YEARS AGO"
- "IF IT WAS A GOOD IDEA, SOMEONE ELSE WOULD HAVE DONE IT BY NOW"
- Communication through the ranks to the designers, who turn over frequently
- Fabricators not necessarily interested in sharing cost data or process data
- Resistance to Unconditional Acceptance (of pre-approved substitutes) by DOTs
- Designer lack of time to iterate and fine-tune
- Lack of a single (unique) governing specification
- Lack of a single (unique) unit of measurement
- Reduced initial and life-cycle costs
- Faster delivery of structure to the traveling public
- Platform for continuous improvement
- Enhanced quality which improves public safety
- Increased competition between materials
Theme Area 4: Showcase of Benefits of Automation
Prepare/Present 'road show' to show benefits and improve awareness of advanced technology; case studies are preferred, (multiple demos of combinations of software/equipment) to include:
- Advances in 3-D modeling and engineering (2-D) drawings software
- Cutting and welding equipment and demonstrations, including distortion-free processing
- Automated inspection
- Discussion of improved steels (low CE) to suit automation
- Cost-effective coatings technology (automated application and long-term maintenance)
- Value Engineering
Primary audience consists jointly of owners, who have to revise specs, etc to allow advancements; and the fabricating industry, as they must make the investments. This project is a follow-up to FHWA Scan Tour. We need to understand the current culture, and plan this to be acceptable to the various stakeholders.
To demonstrate how automation will make steel bridge construction more economical/faster to complete and to disseminate the information gained on the FHWA Fabrication Scan Tour.
- Identify lead, advisory panel, estimate costs
- Identify content to be included (currently available)
- Identify 'hot buttons' for owners
- Prepare proposal for funding to ???
- Develop promotional material/website
- Design/identify program performance measures
- Do we need to write a proposal for a contractor to establish a cost?
- Develop calendar
- Complete slide/script; begin presenting programs
- Assess performance measurement
- Consider alternate media (videos, CD, computer presentations, web sites) once we see what works
- Consider alternate audiences (tech schools, university design and engineering programs)
- Funding - government, industry (software vendors, equipment manufactures, trade groups), regional trade initiatives/zones, assistance in kind (AIK)
- People - develop, teach/present, AIK, universities, government
- Content - other tasks, as well technology providers
- Identify lead/Champion, develop consortium, logistics
- Limited resources
- Hesitance to share information
- How do designers fit in?
- Possible lack of synchronized planning
- Catch 22: Industry must push for advances, owners (jointly) must allow. Which comes first?
- This demonstration will become a resource for themes 1 to 3 for two-way flow of information.
- Enables potential user to evaluate cost/benefit
- Elevates visibility/image of steel bridge industry capabilities
- Educational material will attract a younger generation to industry
- Will supplement other projects aimed at increasing the use of automation with tangible/ high-impact examples
- Health benefits (to workers) from automation
- Better collaborations over long distances through automation
References | Table of Contents | Appendix B