Plant Design Innovators Recap: Plant & Civil with David Wolfe

26 June 2020All, Civil 3D, Industrial and Plant, plant 3dCivil Engineering, Industrial and Plant



David Wolfe of Applied Software led the charge for the second installment of the Plant Design Innovators virtual event. David discussed the use of plant design and Civil 3D software and began with a short description about his own experience in the field. “When I first started doing plant design, I started back in CADWorx. It was a big hurdle, because at the time the internet was fairly young. If you were learning software for the first time, you just jumped in.”

Nowadays, by comparison, the internet is no longer so young. We have Zoom and other video meeting capabilities, an abundance of forums to browse for product information, and the ability to speak with experts across the world in ways that are almost face-to-face. In addition, the new technologies of laser scanning and the use of point clouds for handling enormous amounts of project data are changing the face of modern civil projects. One attendee told of a supplier that will do underground scanning at depths of up to six feet. 

The group discussed their projects in terms of greenfield (taking place on undeveloped land) and brownfield (on previously developed and possibly contaminated land). One attendee, involved in the mining industry, estimated that 85% of his company’s projects were taking place on greenfield sites, with the rest on brownfield.

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fronthoe bucket resting on ground after digging on civil construction building site

Attendees also shared their experiences with issues during design and engineering plus common issues after construction is complete. One said that civil drawings that are released too early in the life of the project will “burn you” later on.

David asked each attendee about their experience in the field and some challenges that projects had brought. A few topics of the day included the issues attendees have had on civil projects with:

  • Outdated drawings
  • Improper placement of projects
  • “Civil War-aged” infrastructure
  • Shuffling equipment around
  • Underground piping from the 1950s and 1960s and the outdated drawings that go with it
  • Staging equipment during massive cut and fill operations
  • Software integration encounters with civil, mostly involving Navisworks and Revit

Several attendees posited that the more complicated the beginning of a project was, the more likely it was to lead to bigger issues down the road.

Participants in the virtual event listed several disciplines that use their civil models and/or drawings and plot plans. Those teams included structural, mechanical and piping.

two people in safety vests and white hardhats looking at mobile device, civil collaboration


As teamwork has become so important in the success of projects, there was also discussion around the strategies for building teamwork. Wolfe posed the question, “What’s the best way you have found to teach someone how to properly set up a civil site?” The responses included:

  • Using mini-training sessions inhouse
  • Forums
  • LinkedIn learning
  • Pinnacle Learning
  • MasterClass
  • User group meetings within the company
  • YouTube channels
  • Google
  • Yammer collaboration tool
  • Reaching out to people in other company offices

Even though civil collaboration brings with it a number of challenges around model placement, orientation and scale, technology exists to take away some of the pains of the site coordination process. That technology is improving every day, and there’s a bright future for civil and plant collaboration. Contact Applied Software to learn more.

Get to know David Wolfe a little better. In a recent Bridging the Gap Podcast, “Take Your Weekend Back: Automate,” David discusses automating the Plant 3D database. Maybe this solution will work for you, too.



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