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I was recently certified by Autodesk as a Civil 3D Implementation Certified Expert or ICE. I have worked in the Civil Engineering industry since 1987. In 1994 I started my consulting business doing training and consulting for Civil Engineering customers utilizing Autodesk civil engineering technology. I started L.A. CAD in 1999 and we are currently the 3rd largest Autodesk partner in the U.S. Studied Civil Engineering at Long Beach State, graduated in 1996.

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Digging In...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Vault Workflow in Civil 3D 2007 (Part 1)

Most of this article was written by Mike Bandich, P.E. Mike Bandich is an L.A. CAD Project Manager and Application Engineer.

From what we have learned thus far and validated with other project managers for civil engineering firms, we believe this could be one valid approach to work flow within Vault.... additionally, this proposed workflow doesn't deal with the issue of some users that may be using AutoCAD or Map accessing the same files. We do have some thoughts on this but did not include in this proposed workflow. Please contact me at danny.counts@lacad.com with any questions/comments.

Working with Vault – Project Management Best Practices for a Typical Civil Engineering Project

With the release of Civil 3D (2007) we are faced with the challenge of learning to work with a new (although improved) method of sharing and managing design data across project teams. Included with this release of Civil 3D is Autodesk Vault. Vault is a file management tool that works as a repository to store, access, and track versioned copies of design data. In this article we focus on the management of Civil 3D design objects (Survey Data, Points, Surfaces, Alignments, Profiles, and Pipe Networks) and how to take advantage of the power and benefits of Vault.

One important item to note upfront is the method Vault uses to manage design objects. Vault uses the source drawing from which the design objects were created to control the sharing of data. In other words, if two (or more) design objects reside within the same source drawing, only the user who has “checked-out” that drawing can be editing those design objects at any one time. This severely limits the ability to work effectively within a project team. It is for this reason to keep in mind a key concept - “One drawing, one design object.”

In the future, Civil 3D 2007 and onward, we can create virtual folders in the Vault with one of them being Alignments. If you want to check out an Alignment, you would go to the virtual alignment folder and pull it in. In some respects, if we use Vault to drive Civil 3D data where appropriate, the fact that the alignments exist in different drawings is really transparent to the user. The data essentially resides in Vault, you just need to decide which data you need to pull in.

Below you will find a typical work flow and project management best practices for using Vault within a Civil Engineering Project:

Create a new project in Civil 3D
1a. This is a database directory that will contain all the drawings and related data for a typical engineering project. Logical file naming should be employed (i.e. project number).

1b. It is recommended that this be created within Civil 3D to insure proper set up.

Create a single design object and attach to a project
2a. Within a new drawing create a single design object and attach it to the newly created project. Repeat this step for all additional design objects (one drawing, one design object).

2b. Part of the process of attaching a design object to a project is the ability to create a sub-folder beneath the main project folder. Folders should be created that correspond to the design object being attached (i.e. create a folder called “Alignments” in which all alignments will be placed. Similar folders for Surfaces and Pipe Networks should be created upon the attaching of those design objects. You do not need to create a folder for point database files. They are automatically stored directly beneath the main project folder and are visible only to a system administrator).

2c. Additionally, when a design object is attached to a project you will be prompted to enter version comments. Version comments should be descriptive enough that if the need arises they can easily be located and reverted to earlier versions of design objects. Version comments can also be used to quickly understand a project’s development and history.

2d. One exception to the one object one drawing rule would be Profiles. Profiles should be created within the same drawing that its corresponding alignment resides.

Create data references of the design objects within the production drawing.
3a. Once design objects are created we can leverage the power of Vault to create data references of the needed data objects inside the production drawing (i.e. rough grading plan, final grading plan, street improvement plan, plan and profile…etc.). A referenced design object provides a read-only copy of the object in the current drawing, but allows the object to be used to create additional design elements, as well as the ability to be displayed with the desired object/label style.

3b. If the time has been taken to set up drawing templates with predefined object and label styles for the desired production drawing the annotating and labeling of our design objects can be selected when design objects are referenced.

The pitfalls in working within a poorly managed project environment may include, but are not limited to the following: Files being scattered amongst individual project members leading to duplication of work; replacement of working files with out of date versions; and/or the loss of files altogether. Design projects, no matter the complexity, can quickly become unmanageable without a well defined structure and work flow. Vault offers a vessel from which we can manage large and complex data across project team members this combined with project management best practices will all but eliminate the pitfalls of a poorly managed project.

Posted by DannyCounts @ 10:11 PM


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