By Jacquelyn Erwin, Civil Engineering Solutions Specialist, Microdesk
Building a process that ensures efficiency for any civil engineering project can be complex and difficult. Autodesk’s AutoCAD Civil 3D is one of the key design tools used for these types of projects where it is being implemented into various types of projects by the grand majority of civil engineers and designers. Civil 3D gives organizations and entities the capability to create 3D models of their projects with efficiency and consistency. As Civil 3D continues to be used more widely, understanding how to build a process and template for it is becoming increasingly important.
Why is a Civil 3D Template Important?
Without a template, a designer may feel they have embarked into a new uncivilized territory, much like the Wild Wild West; no consistency, no standardization, no rules, but plenty of anarchy. Regardless of the project scope, size or type, project managers do not want their project to end up in chaos and their designers dueling against each other over design plans.
Since the Civil 3D template has the file extension DWT, it can be saved, copied, and edited just like a DWG, but does not have any physical linework or text that can be seen when opened. In some cases, the only exception to that rule is a title block. The template acts as a container for all of the layers, linetypes, blocks, text styles, dimension styles, and most importantly, Civil 3D styles. Civil 3D styles contain layers, linetypes, text styles and more to make objects and labels look the way the user desires them to look. When these styles are placed into a template file, and made available to all Civil 3D users, efficiency and productivity will naturally increase, a circumstance all project managers want and need.
Creating One that Works
Anyone with the appropriate skills and experience can create a Civil 3D template. However, the true challenge comes in creating a clean and quality template in order to be successful. One way to do this is to limit the number of people able to edit the template and make sure those people know how to properly maintain it. Most companies and jurisdictions have been creating construction documents for a significant amount of time and know exactly how they want the end product and construction documents to look. When all of the building blocks to accomplish that desired end product are in one place, efficiency and consistency automatically become a main attribute.
The building blocks are essentially the Civil 3D styles. These styles are for the objects and labels that will be made available to be used in all drawings and projects. When a user creates a new drawing using the template, he or she has everything they need for that drawing ready and available. When the person sitting next to that user creates a new drawing using the template, he or she has the exact same styles and settings. These users will not need to spend the time creating their own labels and making their objects look a certain way because it’s all available already.
Keepers for Templates
The number of keepers of a template should be limited. These keepers should be well versed in how to create Civil 3D styles, how to adjust template settings, and have a firm understanding on how the finished product should look. When daily users come across something that needs to change in the template, it’s always good to create a process for doing so. One way could be having a form to fill out to specify what they need and it could go through an approval process before it’s made available in the template.
It’s also good to keep in mind that there should be a balance between too many and too few template options. When you give users too much information, they may get confused as to when to use what options. However, when there is not enough information they will not have everything they need for a project and may create things on their own, defying the purpose of the template.
Depending on the company, it may be necessary to have more than one template for different departments. If styles need to look different or behave different from another, they may need to be made separately. But keep in mind, multiple templates mean multiple items to maintain. If a style is added or changed in one template, it may need to be added or changed in the other as well. Having a log of template changes is a great way to keep track of those changes. Note the status of the change and when it happened to which template. You should also ensure that the keepers manage the logs so updates are known by all members.
Utilizing your Template
Once the template is in place you can then start to apply it when a new drawing is created. In the Civil 3D options on the “File” tab there is a section for “Default Template File Name for Qnew”. Browse to the DWT file location and select it. This can be set on all users computers so when they use the Qnew command the template file is automatically loaded.
Make sure you enforce the use of the template, no matter the resistance you may face. Not everyone will agree on what looks right and what should be in it, you can’t please everyone. Not everyone needs to understand the importance of using it. Your team however should be informed that their opinions will be considered by giving them the option to make changes by way of the process described earlier. Once it becomes part of a process that everyone is using, they will begin to understand the importance of the template and learn to love it.
When a good, clean, quality template is created, maintained, and put to use by everyone at your company or jurisdiction, success in improved efficiency, accuracy, and consistency is inevitable. It takes some hard work and time on the front end but will greatly affect your project’s success in the long run. It will be a work in progress, but will only help you become better and more successful.
Want to learn more on how you can use Civil 3D on your next AECO project? Make sure to register for our class on Civil 3D or contact us at 1.800.336.3375 to find out more. Register for our next Tech Talks event, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to get the latest scoop on events from Microdesk!