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BIM helps the firm deliver more accurate 2D documentation demanded by manufacturers

Providing employees with the right tools for specific design tasks helps the company meet customer demand for accurate designs and documentation. AutoCAD Plant 3D helps DELTA streamline placement of piping, equipment, and support structures while generating isometrics and other documentation. Inventor Professional allows designers to more quickly and accurately design mechanical equipment and develop sheet metal layouts. And project teams can use Navisworks Manage project review software to virtually walk through even the most complex projects, visualizing how all the parts could work together.

The challenge

DELTA’s success hinges on its ability to deliver accurate, detailed plant designs and documentation to customers. “We don’t have the time or money to make mistakes,” says Guido Gläntz, managing director at DELTA Gruppe. “We need to know that our drawings are accurate from start to finish.”

Until recently, a vast majority of DELTA’s customers asked for 2D detailed designs and documentation. But 2D design software doesn’t provide the precision DELTA needs. “When you design in 2D, there’s always a chance that something won’t work or equipment will clash when it’s built,” Gläntz explains.

In addition, DELTA wanted its designers to have access to excellent applications for each task—and needed all of its software to work together. “We have a lot of specialists,” says Gläntz, “and we want them to take advantage of interoperable yet specialized tools for each project.”

The solution

Early on, DELTA realized the advantages of generating 2D documentation from AutoCAD Plant 3D models. “Even if our customers asked for 2D, we began creating 3D models of our plants to generate the 2D drawings,” explains Gläntz. “When we design in 3D, we have more confidence that everything will work— and it’s where it should be. The risk of inaccuracy is lower.”

Now, more and more DELTA customers ask for 3D models to integrate into their own plant designs, giving DELTA an advantage over competitors that haven’t transitioned to 3D. “We’ve won jobs because we can do 3D when most of our competitors can’t,” says Gläntz.

Simplifying plant design

AutoCAD Plant 3D automates and simplifies many aspects of plant design—and helps designers more realistically visualize piping and other equipment. Designers can also model specification-driven pipelines and components either semiautomatically or manually, and use the software’s customizable library of standard equipment parts. The software helps to identify interferences between parts and create accurate construction documents, such as isometrics and orthographics. For example, says Gläntz, “AutoCAD Plant 3D makes it easier to model piping runs, and we can generate isometrics in just one click.”

When designing for an existing plant, DELTA takes 3D scans of the plant, then brings those clouds into AutoCAD Plant 3D to get a more accurate picture of the piping run location. On one recent project, the company used this technique to provide a valuable service. “Our customer needed to show isometrics but lacked the documentation and had no way to easily develop it,” explains Gläntz. “We took 3D scans and ended up with hundreds of pipes in the point cloud. From there, it was simple to model the pipes and create the isometrics. It was a kind of reverse engineering.”

Integrating Autodesk Inventor models

AutoCAD Plant 3D software is a cornerstone of DELTA’s workflow, but the company’s designers rely on other Autodesk software as well. Designers may use Autodesk Inventor Professional software to design a boiler, then import the Inventor model into AutoCAD Plant 3D and connect it with piping to other equipment.

“Different Autodesk products are ideal for different parts,” notes Gläntz. “AutoCAD Plant 3D provides a great overview of piping, while Autodesk Inventor is better for preparing sheet metal layouts for the shop and modeling mechanical and rotating parts.

Thanks to the interoperability between the two, we can always use the best product for the job, then bring the models together in AutoCAD Plant 3D.”

Designers also enjoy seeing their designs come to life with Inventor. “We’re free to model without limits and can quickly visualize the results,” notes Mr. Zimmermann, a DELTA designer. “Plus, when we make changes to a model, Inventor automatically updates the 2D production drawings, which helps to both reduce manual work and save a lot of time.”

“AutoCAD Plant 3D provides a great overview of piping, while Autodesk Inventor is better for preparing sheet metal layouts for the shop and modeling mechanical and rotating parts. Thanks to the interoperability between the two, we can always use the best product for the job, then bring the models together in AutoCAD Plant 3D.”
                        —  Guido Gläntz, Managing Director, DELTA Gruppe GmbH

Viewing the whole project

In November 2010, a Singapore-based synthetic rubber manufacturer asked DELTA to design equipment as part of a larger plant project—one that put Autodesk software to the test. DELTA imported the manufacturer’s piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) into the AutoCAD Plant 3D project and began building a 3D model of the project. The company also modeled some parts in Inventor Professional, then brought them into the AutoCAD Plant 3D model. Because DELTA used AutoCAD Plant 3D to model the entire project, it was able to provide both technical production drawings and the 3D plant model requested by the client.

To develop project presentations, DELTA relied on Navisworks Manage project review software. “We combined our models into Navisworks so we could show the rubber manufacturer its plant in a more realistic way,” says Gläntz. “They could walk through the Navisworks model, view the plant from different angles, and visually evaluate the model to see if all parts fit together.”


Autodesk software helps DELTA increase efficiency, accuracy, and competitive advantage. Explains Gläntz, “The intelligence and automation in AutoCAD Plant 3D software lets us model structure, equipment, and pipe routing more accurately— and generate piping isometrics and construction documentation with just a few clicks. And AutoCAD Plant 3D gives us an advantage because we’re one of the few companies in Germany that can provide clients with 3D plant models.”

As to why Autodesk is an ideal partner, Gläntz enthuses, “First, Autodesk offers a breadth of software with the specialized tools we need. Second, the interoperability between Autodesk products makes it easier to export and import models from one Autodesk application to another throughout our workflow. Finally, Autodesk provides high-level support. If we need help, we know we’ll quickly get it from Autodesk.”

Delta Gruppe GmbH outperforms competitors by using BIM

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