Nov 11, 2010

Swiss Engineering firm relies on Allplan Engineering for the Gotthard Base Tunnel

Munich - Allplan Engineering CAD software from Nemetschek Allplan plays a key role in the designing and planning of one of the most prominent engineering projects of our time, the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland. Gähler und Partner AG, as a leading member of the Gotthard Base Tunnel North Engineering Association, generates the extremely complex 3D reinforcement in many areas using Allplan. Allplan meanwhile proves to be a reliable and flexible platform, when it comes to data exchange operations with others involved in the construction project.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is considered to be one of the pioneering works of the 21st century. With a length of 57 kilometers, it will be the longest tunnel in the world when completed, and the quickest route for those crossing the Alps. The traveling time between Zurich and Milan will be reduced from more than four hours to less than three. And freight traffic capacities will be doubled.

Within the Gotthard Base Tunnel North Engineering Association, Gähler und Partner AG is responsible for the plans of the two main headings, Erstfeld and Amsteg, and all external facilities in Amsteg. These consist of road redirections and new access roads, areas for accommodation, canteens and offices and adaptation of the existing rail line between Erstfeld and Amsteg, including the construction site station.

Work in Amsteg was planned with a competitor’s product. However, towards the end of construction work in Amsteg and the commencement of implementation planning in Erstfeld, the engineers decided to change to Allplan. The new software passed its baptism of fire without difficulty: "A considerable success factor for us was that the data transfer from this, comparatively speaking, different and old system functioned so well", explains Raphael Wick, overall project manager and CEO of Gähler und Partner AG.

Smooth data exchange

With regard to cooperation within the Engineering Association and with others involved in the construction project, the company also profited from the reliability of the software when it came to data transfer: "Numerous programs in the most varied versions are employed in the project. It was therefore extremely important to ensure that plans could be transferred in flawless quality. With Allplan we have encountered no problems", the project manager assured us.

Allplan Engineering also facilitates layout editing and reduces the susceptibility to errors. Raphael Wick explains: "Despite standardization, we have created a total of around 120 different block plans and in excess of 1000 layouts. This is an enormous amount of data, but Allplan handles it effortlessly."

Cost optimization with CAD

The engineers developed a system with adjustable formwork to optimize concrete consumption and, consequently, the costs involved. The respective formwork geometry is determined in this respect using Allplan. A digital survey of the surface, which indicates the exact location of the excavation support, is imported into Allplan and stored together with the normal profiles. An optimum formwork configuration is then determined, taking minimum component dimensions and geometric boundary conditions emanating from operations into consideration.

2D for standard layouts, 3D for special features

Gähler und Partner generate floor plans, sections and details in 2D in Allplan for standard plans. However, at difficult locations or where problem areas need to be illustrated, the engineers prefer 3D and work with visualizations. Design challenges are, in particular, repeatedly encountered in relation to cable conduit systems which frequently change direction. Another example of a difficult position is encountered in Amsteg, where both the access tunnel and a cable tunnel for the railway power supply combine to meet in the two tunnel tubes. The resulting spatial intersection of the different structures has also been planned in 3D.

Peter Mehlstäubler, General Manager of Nemetschek Allplan: "The successful opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is certain to go down in history as one of the outstanding engineering achievements of this century. The fact that project objectives were achieved and, in part, exceeded on the basis of Allplan, is once again a testament to the performance capability of the solution we provide."