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RE: electronic data exchange

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Has anybody given some thought to some of the real difficulties that will
occur when the Engineer is asked to provide the Contractor with his CAD
files so that the Contractor can automate the preparation of shop drawings?

In todays structural office I believe you will find that the electronic
files are not as exact as the paper plots imply.   You will find things not
on the right layers and the member locations may not be within a couple of
inches of where they belong.  If we are to change this, drafting costs will
go up and the Engineers will need to spend considerable more time checking
the CAD files.  There are some real reasons why disclaimers are commonly
attached to CAD file provided to the Contractor.

As long as the paper drawings are the governing version, you will find that
there will be instances where it is necessary to draw a member out of scale
in order to make it readable.

A reality is that Architects and Owners make many changes during a project.
 In many cases where the change is small the Engineer may decide to revise
a dimension or two but not redraw the member.  In quite a few instances it
would probably be cheaper to start the drawing over rather than attempt to
make many small changes.

In those cases where the CAD files have been used to define the member
location you will find that it cost the Engineer considerably more than for
a normal project.  Until these issues are resolved I believe that the
primary use for electronic data interchange will be to transfer data from
the detailer to the fabricator.

Mark Gilligan.

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