The new version of Allplan, one of the leading BIM applications used globally, has just been released. In addition to strengthening its comprehensive suite of tools for architecture, engineering, and infrastructure design, Allplan 2024 has also significantly expanded its capabilities for prefabrication as well as construction planning. In fact, it is the only BIM solution I am aware of that has built-in construction planning tools, allowing AEC firms to move seamlessly from the design and construction modeling of the project to planning how exactly it will be built on site, all within the same application and using the same model. In fact, the company sees Allplan as a “design to build platform” for the AEC industry rather than just a BIM application (Figure 1).
This full-fledged “design to build” capability helps to explain why Allplan is used by companies like Yüksel Proje, a provider of engineering, design and supervision services for bridge, metro, and rail projects that is headquartered in Turkey and works in over 30 countries around the world. At the Allplan 2024 launch event held last month, Yüksel Proje shared how they were using Allplan to customize their design processes on their many projects (Figure 2), benefiting enormously from flexibility and time savings.
Here are the key new and improved features in Allplan 2024 in each of the main disciplines it serves, along with additional enhancements common to all disciplines.
There are three main criteria driving the architectural enhancements in Allplan 2024: enabling design in context, accelerating design processes and automation, and providing flexible and accelerated data information management. An example of enabling design in context is a new GIS Connector tool which allows detailed site data to be brought into Allplan through a cloud-based connector. It is powered by 3DCityLoader, a service that connects to global open GIS platforms and includes models of several cities in its database. As shown in Figure 3, you can use the GIS Connector tool to select an area to import into Allplan and specify the content that is needed such as 3D buildings, terrains, cadastral maps, street contours, textures, etc. The selected site and accompanying data is quickly brought into Allplan, providing an accurate and detailed site context for the design.
The goal of accelerating design processes and automation in Allplan 2024 is exemplified by an expanded facade design toolset to streamline the design of building envelopes. While Allplan did have façade modeling tools earlier, these have been significantly improved to make it easier and faster to create and edit facades, either interactively with modification handles to manipulate the façade model directly in the graphics window or by specifying the required layout values in the accompanying dialog. It is possible to specify different distribution values for the different subdivisions — they are not required to be uniform. You can also apply a 2D layout to the façade design as well as use predefined parametric components — called SmartParts — for the façade door and window openings to accelerate the design process (Figure 4).
Another key feature introduced to accelerate design processes is a new Content Connector tool that makes it easier to import custom content into Allplan, including 3D objects from the SketchUp 3D Warehouse as well as surface/texture assets from mtextur’s extensive high-quality online material library. The connections are automated, so the SketchUp objects can simply be dragged and dropped in the model, and textures imported from mtextur can be directly applied to the building model in Allplan (Figure 5). The imported objects and textures are converted to the Allplan format and can be edited as Allplan entities and customized as required.
And finally, in order to accomplish the objective of providing flexible and accelerated data information management, Allplan 2024 has enhanced its Object Palette to allow it to handle more complex projects — which include a larger number of components and attribute data — significantly faster. It also includes the ability to color-code, sort, and query the model by as many as six different attributes, allowing the data quality of the model to be checked more quickly and easily. Allplan 2024 also includes integration — currently available as a technical preview — with the popular issue management application, BIMcollab, to further enhance its ability to ensure quality control of the model (Figure 6).
On the engineering front, Allplan is continuing to build up its capability to work as a multi-material solution that can handle steel, precast concrete, cast-in-place concrete, and reinforcement detailing. One of the most dramatic enhancements for steel construction is integration with the popular SDS2 steel detailing and fabrication application that Nemetschek acquired in 2016 and which has been part of the ALLPLAN portfolio since 2021. With the SDS2 connection, engineers can simply select a steel structure in Allplan whose connections they would like to design automatically instead of manually, and the system quickly returns the structure with the connections (Figure 7). The connections are based on default standards, with checks to ensure that they are fabricable and erectable. They are fully parametric Allplan objects and can be easily modified if required. The engineer does not need to have the SDS2 application installed for this automated steel connection feature to work — it is built into Allplan.
Additional enhancements for steel construction include the introduction of inclined columns as a new structural steel component and the ability to connect structural components to each other with a new "line component to line component" function. These enhancements allow more flexibility and precision for modeling the structural steel frame of the design.
Following up on the many significant enhancements for precast concrete in the previous Allplan release — including the full integration of the capabilities of Planbar, the dedicated precast design and detailing software that was acquired in 2021 — Allplan 2024 goes further by allowing the reinforcement to be automatically fabricated by mesh welding machines used offsite. In addition to being fully digital, this supports error-free and accelerated workflows when working with precast construction. Additionally, Allplan 2024 also makes it easier to work with the large number of fixtures that typically accompany precast elements, with simplified administration and improved options for mounting and relocating them more intuitively (Figure 8).
For cast-in-place concrete, you can now create and modify reinforcement directly in 3D, which is especially helpful for structural firms who do not want to create 2D drawings any longer but have entirely model-based workflows. For those with hybrid workflows, there is full associativity between models and drawings. The automated reinforcement capabilities that were already available in Allplan for individual components have been expanded in this release to L- and T-shaped wall connections as well (Figure 9), helping to further speed up repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
Last but not least, the clash detection capabilities for reinforcement have been finetuned to differentiate between hard clashes, soft clashes, and workflow clashes, based on user-defined parameters. This is very helpful as there are typically many clashes that can be resolved with only minor adjustments to the reinforcement and are not mission-critical, and having a clearer picture of these allows customers to focus on the more severe cases. The clashes are color-coded based on their severity.
Allplan 2024 continues to build upon its capabilities for construction site planning that had been introduced in Allplan 2022 and expanded in Allplan 2023. It now has a built-in Groundworks toolset for designing and modeling the excavation pits along with the related earthwork elements for the project (Figure 10), so that users don’t have to rely on third-party plug-ins or manual workarounds for this task. The tools can take into account the condition of the soil at the different excavation areas — which comes in from the terrain model — as well as associate them with different stages to plan the exact sequence of the excavation. The volume of the earthwork that will be excavated can be precisely calculated, allowing for an accurate cost estimate of the excavation.
Integrated formwork planning for in-situ or cast-in-place concrete is another new feature in Allplan 2024. It is enabled by a new add-on tool for designing formwork systems that can automatically assemble the individual components of the formwork based on the manufacturer that has been selected, the systems they support, and any additional settings (Figure 11). Having this integrated formwork design capability allows construction companies to take the service inhouse instead of outsourcing it to external companies, which is typically very expensive. In addition to the cost savings, it also allows construction companies to take greater control over the phasing and the construction sequence of the elements needing the formwork. And since Allplan is a BIM application, the formwork design can be directly associated with the building elements that have been modeled in it.
Allplan now has a fully integrated and parametric workflow that includes the three main transportation infrastructure elements: roads, bridges, and tunnels. What this means from a high-level perspective is that you can define a single axis for a transportation stretch comprising all the elements, and if that axis is changed, the individual elements like roads, bridges, and tunnels that have been defined in relation to that axis are all changed so as to maintain their relationship to the axis and their connections with each other (Figure 12). The technology stack enabling this includes Allplan, Allplan Bridge, as well as Allplan Bimplus as the exchange platform between the two.
Other enhancements in Allplan for infrastructure design include a fully template-based design for roads that enables their geometry to be quickly modified, the ability to create parametric intersections between two roads by simply clicking on them, automated outputs such as earthwork volumes or stakeout points from the model, and support of the new IFC 4.3 format that is specific to infrastructure.
In Allplan Bridge — the dedicated parametric application for bridge design that was introduced in 2018 — the entire bridge or its sub elements can now be modeled freely and parametrically in 3D space using volumetric primitives (prisms) and Boolean operations. With this new modeling capability added to the existing methods of axis-based modeling and polygonised modeling, any kind of bridge geometry can now be created in Allplan. Another new feature is the automatic design of reinforcement based on the shape of the bridge, which provides the engineer with the needed information for structural analysis, code-based design, and other analyses such as crack checking. Being parametric, any change in the geometry of the bridge will change the reinforcement as well. And finally, there is a new integrated reporting tool enabled by a Word plug-in which captures the numerical and analytical data for the design specified by the engineer (Figure 13).
Allplan Cloud is the platform that hosts the various cloud services from Allplan for collaboration, engineering analysis, plan distribution and remote working, and it has been expanded significantly in this release. Previously, it comprised primarily of Bimplus, the model-management and collaboration application that connected Allplan applications to each other as well as to third-party software through APIs or open file formats such as IFC.
Now, in addition to Bimplus, the Allplan Cloud includes several additional products including an upcoming cloud-native Viewer for fast viewing of IFC files, a BIM2Field tool for measuring objects on site using a laptop or tablet as well as generating quantity-takeoff data that can be exported to Excel, an improved design checking tool powered by Solibri (Figure 14), a dedicated application for worksharing in a closed BIM environment called Allplan Share, the ability for a large firm to share office resources between multiple locations with Allplan Share, and a relaunched plan and document management tool called Allplan Exchange.
Also new is an integration of Allplan with Twinmotion, allowing the BIM model created in Allplan to be viewed and animated in Twinmotion’s sophisticated and highly photorealistic visualization interface as well as viewed in VR in Unreal Engine. (Both Unreal Engine and Twinmotion are now owned by the same company, Epic Games.) The synchronization between Allplan and Twinmotion is either controlled (on demand) or live, which means that any change in the Allplan model is immediately reflected in the Twinmotion visualization.
And finally, Allplan’s Visual Scripting capability has been improved to make it possible to generate scripts without programming knowledge, making it faster and easier to use for automating workflows as well as for creating custom parametric objects to use in the model.
I found the new version of Allplan chock-full of new features as well as updates to existing features, making it one of the most comprehensive BIM applications for the entire spectrum of AEC including architecture, engineering, infrastructure, detailing, prefabrication and precast, and construction planning. In addition to tighter integration with applications like SDS2 and Allplan Bridge that are within the ALLPLAN portfolio, Allplan is also improving its connections to its sister applications within the Nemetschek portfolio like Solibri. It is also starting to connect to a larger number of popular external applications like BIMcollab, Twinmotion, and the SketchUp 3D Warehouse, significantly expanding the range of tasks its users can do.
One of the aspects I most appreciate about Allplan’s approach is that it takes its time to develop its technological advancements fully and only then talks about them rather than jumping on the latest bandwagon. A good case in point are its cloud offerings, which have been expanded and formalized under the unbrella of Allplan Cloud only now, after they have been substantially developed. It is the same with AI (Artificial Intelligence). While Allplan does some have AI-driven enhancements, most notably in the area of automated reinforcement and process automation, these are mostly under the radar for now rather than being used as marketing spiel.
With Allplan, there is no smokescreen. What you see is what you get.
Lachmi Khemlani is founder and editor of AECbytes. She has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specializing in intelligent building modeling, and consults and writes on AEC technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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