AEC Magazine takes a look at the latest Building Services application from CADline and finds one of the most focussed UK compliance tools on the market.
We have built computer systems to simulate nuclear explosions, model the Earth’s climate and break complex encryption codes. Yet in creating buildings and structures the majority of engineers and architects have mainly used computers as replacements for simple 2D drawing boards.
It has only been in the last 20 years that CAD systems have started to morph from drawing board replacements to expert systems, not only assisting in detailing the design but also adding dedicated industry knowledge within the design environment.
Alongside traditional CAD, there have been a number of specialist standalone engineering applications developed for number crunching. These have tended to concentrate on mechanical calculations — temperatures, air pressure, energy usage and to perhaps assist with meeting regulations such as Part-L.
As CAD vendors’ aspirations have grown, and with the industry slowly moving to 3D and Building Information Modelling (BIM), they have sought to acquire many of these expert systems to include in their core offerings. For example, UK building services developer, Hevacomp was recently acquired by US-based Bentley Systems. Autodesk has its own Building Services (Mechanical Electrical Plumbing) products for Revit and AutoCAD, as well as acquiring Green Building Studio and Ecotect and is adding in additional analysis to its core products.
One of the last independent specialist services design systems is Cymap from UK developer and CAD reseller CADline. Originally developed in Bristol in 1973, the software was acquired by Graphisoft in 1999 and integrated closely with its ArchiCAD products, while remaining a standalone analysis tool. The software was then sold to CADline, which tightly integrated it with AutoCAD MEP in 2009. It has remained standalone and has seen considerable functionality expansion together with regular updates to make it one of the most focussed UK compliance tools on the market.
Cymap has over 50,000 users in 20 countries, including the likes of Arup, Skanska and Buro Happold and was used on Heathrow Terminal 5, the Millennium Dome and within the Royal Navy Carrier Fleet.
Cymap is a standalone application that is available as a combined Mechanical and Electrical license or in single seats of either discipline.
The latest release, Cymap 2013, has an updated interface and links to the TAS Building Designer developed by Environmental Design Solutions, which can accurately predict energy consumption, CO2 emissions, operating costs and occupant comfort.
Cymap offers a range of calculations that cover the following key building design areas: Heating, cooling, energy consumption and psychrometric analysis, piped services covering a wide range of fluids, ducted services with noise levels at the grille and in rooms, low voltage wiring design from the transformer to whole circuits, lighting design for internal/ emergency/ external, as well as day-lighting.
The software is ‘wizard driven’ so is fairly easy to learn, but still requires a certain level of knowledge — it is the system that IT experts use.
The process starts off by importing a DXF or GBXML from any capable 2D or 3D CAD system. Room profiles are then allocated and floors defined. From this, energy, pipework, lighting, ducting, electrics and wiring calculations can all be based.
The software conforms to CIBSE, Part-L, SAP, LG7 Lighting, IEE, DIN, VDI , VDE and ASHRAE industry standards, with many others to boot. The software includes its own reports generator, document management and database.
Cymap Energy calculates the heating and cooling loads of designs. It can analyse the annual energy consumption as well as taking into account summertime/winter differences and partial plant conditions.
The software has a powerful U-value calculator to create composite fabrics with interstitial condensation checks, all calculated to BS6946. The software comes with a large database of materials that can be mixed and matched to create the exact proposed construction type.
Cymap Pipework integrates with the energy analysis to calculate the cooling band heating of pipe networks. The software will automatically place radiators in the design and provide pipe routing layouts, while providing a detailed bill of quantities too.
There is also a range of Public Health utilities for potable water and gas. The software automatically connects draw offs to the pipe network and can perform tank head calculations.
Cymap Lighting caters for single and multi-room analysis together with dealing with external floodlighting. Along with the floor plans the software accepts associated lighting data in TM14/ EULEMDAT and IES formats.
Cymap also comes with an extensive database of more than 80 manufacturers and supports links to websites.
Analysis can be done for daylight or artificial light and can be calculated via lumens or radiosity, complying to the LG7 standard. The results are displayed on the 2D drawings and 3D models showing the calculated light levels. The software also outputs a bill of quantities.
Cymap includes a simple to use shadow analysis capability that works both on interiors and exteriors. On a model with surrounding buildings it is possible to see how shadows affect the site, both from the existing and proposed buildings. The shading is quite simple but effective.
The electrical aspect of Cymap is particularly impressive. Project loads and distribution boards are entered with a database of existing components. Users can define circuit switching symbols if necessary as well as cable trunking, tray and conduit layouts, and the software will calculate the cable lengths. The software also features fire alarm audibility calculations.
Once complete, the design can be exported to a schematic wiring program.
Cymap Wiring complies with BS 7671 and takes the output from Cymap Electrics’ board and load definitions. The software calculates short circuit fault levels, voltage drops, cable sizes and discrimination analysis, all while producing a detailed bill of materials.
Supporting European-wide standards of Dehn BS / EN62305, Cymap Electrical provides full Risk R1-R4 with risk component analysis, including checking the separation distance down conductors. There is also an air termination rod design with the ability to assess lightning strike potential. All these calculations work across the project and deliver detailed quantity lists.
TAS Building Designer
TAS works alongside Cymap and is a dynamic thermal simulation that allows designers to accurately predict energy consumption, CO2 emissions, operating costs and occupant comfort.
Each window, door, ventilator or other aperture has its relative altitude and orientation automatically calculated to give a potential airflow network through the building.
TAS creates tabulated and graphical output, and uses rendered 3D views to display solar shading.
Cymap and TAS work together with a bi-directional link. Cymap zone/room geometry is exported to generate the TAS building simulation (TBS) file, which can be used for analysis. Once the dynamic simulation has been completed, the results can be imported back into Cymap, to enable building services, sizing and design work to be undertaken.
The sheer breadth of functionality on offer within the two elements of Cymap are really quite incredible and AEC Magazine regrets it does not have enough space to go into in-depth analysis of it all here.
However, we can say that the graphical user interface is nothing special in these days of BIM and 3D; it merely does the job.
Having had decades of development, Cymap is indeed an expert Building Services application that works well with most CAD systems and CADline has continued to keep the product up with emerging standards and compliance needs.
In comparison to competitor products, the fact that it is developed in the UK and owned by one of the largest AEC value added resellers means that UK compliance and regulations come first.
CADline has indicated that in future releases the product will include more 3D aspects. However Cymap is likely to come under increasing competition from products like Autodesk Revit or Autodesk BIM 360.
That said, I just do not see any large vendor catering so deeply or quickly for UK needs.