Ocean shipping is the foundation of global trade and commerce and has been for thousands of years. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 90 percent of traded goods are carried over the seas.
With today’s cargo ships measuring more than 1,300 feet, the logistics of loading and unloading containers is staggering. It also requires larger and better-equipped port terminals that have been built to accommodate today’s larger cargo ships.
One of the ports in need of expansion and modernization was the Europa Terminal in the Belgian Port of Antwerp. But renovating an active port that is servicing cargo ships, managing such a large project, and enabling a massive ecosystem of stakeholders to collaborate was no easy task.
The Europa Terminal update was made possible with the help of BIM and digital design – which enabled stakeholder collaboration, automation, and breaking the project down into manageable phases – all while keeping sustainability issues in mind.
Dan Peticila, Product Manager for Autodesk Revit, recently shared how this port update came to fruition in an article on the Autodesk blog:
The Europa Terminal from the Port of Antwerp (Belgium) was built in the 1980s. Its original scope was to expand the port’s capacity and to speed up the docking time by 4 to 6 hours. It spans across 72 hectares (178 acres) and has a 1,200 m long reinforced concrete quay.
This year, the Port of Antwerp – together with the terminal operator PSA Antwerp – are planning to rebuild the quay wall and to make it deeper, such that the largest ships, up to 16 m deep, can dock there.
“…they decided to use Revit to model everything and do the rebar detailing, as they were dealing with a large reinforced concrete civil structure where precision, productivity, and performance are key.” — Dan Peticila
The engineering office commissioned with this project is Tractebel, an international company, with Belgian roots. The company has a history of providing worldwide life-cycle consultancy and engineering in power, nuclear, water, and infrastructure for national and international institutions and customers in public or private markets.
As Filip Mortelmans MSc. Eng., Project Manager for Tractebel said, they decided to use Revit to model everything and do the rebar detailing, as they were dealing with a large reinforced concrete civil structure where precision, productivity, and performance are key. And Tractebel would need to leverage al of that experience in this project.
The figures are impressive. The quay wall is made of more than 2000 reinforced concrete piles, interconnected by an 11 m high massive pile cap, poured in multiple stages, spanning across 1,200 meters. There are three main types of piles: 336 of them are made of 2.1 m diameter steel pipes going 34 m deep, filled with concrete reinforced with complex rebar cages. An additional 43 piles following the same principle are 1.63 m in diameter and 28 m deep.
To back them up against the strong force of the sea, behind them sit 1623 cast-in-place reinforced concrete compression piles, each of them 0.56 m in diameter and 28 m deep. It is expected that up to 19,500 metric tons of reinforcement steel to be required for the entire quay wall.
“Revit makes these model changes easy, since many design modifications can be typically incorporated by changing parameter values that make the whole model automatically adjust, updating the reinforcement as well.” — Dan Peticila
According to Filip de Clercq, Senior Consultant for Tractebel, all the rebar detailing, including bar bending schedules and the reinforcement plans are made using Revit’s standard capabilities, customized for this project’s specific needs, like color-coded bars for easy identification, rebar tags matching the color of the bars and tag types automatically changing depending on the bar’s type and role.
He made the switch from 2D drafting in AutoCAD Structural Detailing years ago, anticipating the complexity of the projects he would work on and the tight delivery schedules, for which Revit, as a mature BIM platform, proved to be the right way to go.
Model changes are easily incorporated by leveraging the highly parametric nature of families and arrays. For example, the geometrical characteristics of the concrete piles and of the steel sheet piles. Revit makes these model changes easy, since many design modifications can be typically incorporated by changing parameter values that make the whole model automatically adjust, updating the reinforcement as well.
Michiel Bienens, the Design Engineer responsible mainly for the crane beams and their supports, wanted to bring even more automation into play, so he created Dynamo scripts for automated clash controls for the piles, considering their very large number and for the need to better manage the objects that would be included in the demolition phases.
The temporary concrete fills were also automatically reinforced with the help of Dynamo. One more significant contribution of Dynamo was in automatically sketching the ground surface, considering how many phases of the project required ground movement.
“Collaboration for modeling and detailing was possible due to Revit’s Cloud Worksharing tools, while Autodesk Docs served as the platform to engage all stakeholders, including all engineers, to review the 3D model and the drawings.” — Dan Peticila
Autodesk’s investments into Revit’s model performance, especially those focused on reinforcement visualization and constraints, convinced Tractebel to model everything in one single model. This allows them to link only the drawings showing the quay wall in the general context of the port it is part of. Bringing data from the Civil 3D model ensured a perfect alignment with the existing infrastructure. Firstly, Civil 3D was used to create the bathymetric chart, based on underwater survey data. Then, this was combined with the existing LIDAR data for the structure above the sea level. Finally, this full set was transformed into a terrain model in Civil 3D and then exported to Revit.
Revit’s phasing capabilities also played an important role in helping the Port of Antwerp achieve its goal of turning the sustainable design of the new Europa Terminal into reality.
Because ships still have to moor during the works to load and unload goods, the 1,200 m quay wall will be tackled in three major phases. And each of them was further subdivided into several phased for more granular management inside the Revit model. These phases have been carefully designed based on the expected traffic in the coming years.
Collaboration for modeling and detailing was possible due to Revit’s Cloud Worksharing tools, while Autodesk Docs served as the platform to engage all stakeholders, including all engineers, to review the 3D model and the drawings. As for local authorities who might not need to have Revit licenses, there is always the option to share with them DWG documents exported from the Revit model and keep the latest version available for them in the cloud.