Autodesk Grading Optimization and the NCS

Tags Grading Optimization, GO, Civil 3D 2022, Update, NCS 6.0, STB, CTB, video, Layer Standards, CAD Standards

Autodesk continues to improve the capabilities and performance of their new design grading application tool – Autodesk Grading Optimization (GO). Grading Optimization was initially released with the Civil 3D 2022 introduction last spring. Sadly, GO is not a part of Civil 3D. Like the powerful and useful Project Explorer for Civil 3DGrading Optimization is only included in the AEC Collection license offerings.

Grading Optimization

Here’s the official GO description in Autodesk help file speak.

“Autodesk Grading Optimization is an interactive tool that facilitates grading various land areas such as sites, road interchanges, and around structures. It consists of optimization algorithms that work toward surface smoothness while accommodating user imposed constraints. These design constraints include grading and drainage elements. The constraints are entered as global parameters and as individual grading element parameters.”

In plainer English…

  • We have an existing (or partially modified design) surface.
    Maybe we want to initially grade a site’s roadways to a specification.
  • We have an AutoCAD 2D drawing with CAD primitives that represent the proposed enclosed areas (like building pads, parking lots, sidewalks).
  • Based on our current civil engineering grading design heuristics, allow us assign some grading and other basic constraints to the various AutoCAD linework to manage the results.
  • Please adjust and balance the earthwork cut and fill to these targets and produce a refined version of the supplied surface as a new surface.
  • Stir and repeat until we a happier with the results.

Grading Optimization is an iterative tool that allows us to get to potentially better grading design results faster and with less effort. We can avoid the classic manual, nuanced, and micro-managed decision-making approach to the grading details until they actually matter.

 

G0 and Civil 3D 2022.1

Seth Cohen’s great demo and walkthrough of GO at work on an actual completed Civil 3D project is worth a look see.

  • GO requires some unavoidable experiential learning of the GO tools, language, and mechanics.
  • GO is not designed or intended to produce final documented and QAQC’d finished ground surfaces.
  • GO assumes we understand both the art and the engineering science of grading design.

An important work process point that can be easily overlooked in the video. We probably want to GO Optimize on a copy of the GO set up drawing.

The setup or preparation of the initial drawing for GO is important to our success.

Seth alludes to Creg Dieziger’s now much talked about AU 2021 class:
The Handy Man's Guide To: Grading Optimization in Your Civil 3D Toolbox -  CES500056.

Creg employs the concept of employing a classic simple exhibit drawing with solid hatches to help us better manage the GO object assignments inside Civil 3D. Here’s another video version with some 2022.1 Update additions.

 

Grading Optimization 2022.1

Ron Couillard discusses and demos Grading Optimization in Civil 3D 2022.1. Ron covers the GO basics, mechanics, and answers some frequently asked questions. Creg Dieziger participates in this webinar.

Layers and the GO

One the interesting defaults found in the Grading Optimization workflow process is to name the new and separate GO Grading Objects by the source Layer name of the primitive employed as a default.
A building footprint on Layer BLDG becomes BLDG -1
This process standard sort of makes some sense - the Layer name standard helps us keep track of the source primitives to some degree.

The NCS 6.0 and GO

A couple of Framework for Civil 3D customers asked if I had some proactive suggestions as to how to assign the NCS 6.0 Layer Keys successfully for GO Tools.

Does the NCS 6.0 Key-based Layer Standard support Grading Optimization?

Dooh. We can easily make up some new Keys based on the current and specific GO vernacular and pretend.

Remember that the NCS Layer Standard is about both the Keys and the Major and Minor Key patterns that create meaning for ourselves and others. An NCS Layer name should read successfully in both directions.

For more about the NCS Layer Standards see the NCS Key Discipline Relates to Workflows post and series.

Does Grading Optimization deserve its own Major Key?
Probably not.
Specific software or application-based Keys are always problematic in the long run.
The existing GRAD Major Grading key works fine.

Frankly, there are more than enough existing secondary Minor NCS Keys (last ones) to support and help us to type all the Grading Optimization tools reasonably well.
The ZONE, LINE, PONT, and PATT Keys all appear to be pretty obvious Type Code Keys.
ZONE, LINE, and PONT (or SPOT and ELEV) certainly define the key GO Tools types. Eheh.
The PATT Key works fine for the ZONE hatches.

A proposed GO NCS 6 Layer Keys pattern looks like this:

C-GRAD-<Minor>-<Type>

The <Minor>-<Type> pattern determines the GO Tool assignment.
Any ZONE tool and layer will always have a complimentary PATT Layer and matched color assignment.

GO Tools to NCS Layers

Layer Name

Desc

Tool

C-GRAD-ACCS-ZONE

Access

Accessible Path

C-GRAD-ACCS-PATT

   

C-GRAD-LIMT-ZONE

Limit

Grading Limit

C-GRAD-LIMT-PATT

   

C-GRAD-BLDG-ZONE

Building

Building Pad

C-GRAD-BLDG-PATT

   

C-GRAD-GRND-ZONE

Ground

Zone

C-GRAD-GRND-PATT

   

C-GRAD-HIDE-ZONE

 

Exclusion

C-GRAD-HIDE-PATT

   

C-GRAD-HCAP-ZONE

Handicap

Accessible Path

C-GRAD-HCAP-PATT

   

C-GRAD-PADS-ZONE

Pad

Building Pad

C-GRAD-PADS-PATT

   

C-GRAD-POND-ZONE

Pond

Pond

C-GRAD-POND-PATT

   

C-GRAD-PAVE-ZONE

Pavement

Parking

C-GRAD-PAVE-PATT

   

C-GRAD-PRKG-ZONE

Parking

Parking

C-GRAD-PRKG-PATT

   

C-GRAD-RAMP-ZONE

Ramp

Accessible Path

C-GRAD-RAMP-PATT

   

C-GRAD-SWLK-ZONE

Sidewalk

Sidewalk

C-GRAD-SWLK-PATT

   

C-GRAD-CURB-LINE

Curb

Curb

C-GRAD-DRAN-LINE

Drain

Drain Line

C-GRAD-EDGE-LINE

Edge

Aligned Edge

C-GRAD-ELEV-LINE

Elevation Line

Reveal

C-GRAD-GRLN-LINE

Grade Line

Bend

C-GRAD-OFLT-LINE

Offset Left

Elevation Offset

C-GRAD-OFRT-LINE

Offset Right

Elevation Offset

C-GRAD-OFST-LINE

Offset

Elevation Offset

C-GRAD-RTWL-LINE

Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall

C-GRAD-BNDY-PONT

Bounded Point

Bounded Point

C-GRAD-ELEV-PONT

Elevation Point

Low Point

C-GRAD-SPOT-PONT

Elevation Point

Low Point

This Layer list includes some intentional duplicates to existing Grading Optimization tools.
We can assume most GO Users will make copies of existing GO Tools to deal with these common site grading issues.

The existing NCS Keys for landscape planting types may be employed to additionally type appropriate site and roadway landscape Grading Zones as needed.

An upcoming Civil 3D 2022.2 update to the Framework for Civil 3D will include these layers in new Grading Optimization sheet in updated NCS 6.0 Layer Standard Spreadsheet Tools for both STB and CTB.

Meanwhile in a pinch - the above Layer Names can be easily copied and pasted from this table to a new Start sheet in the supplied Layer Standard Spreadsheet tools supplied in all versions of the Framework. All the Layer names resolved properly and even produce specialized Layers States. Default colors will need adjustment to preferences.

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