With computers becoming indispensable elements of many aspects of human activities, engineering too has remained no exception and so has civil engineering or construction. The immense advantages of computers and thus the ever-increasing dependency on the same has naturally given rise to continuous and rapid evolution of computer software related to this arena as well.
There are hundreds of civil engineering software out there and the number is growing by the day. Varieties of programmes meant for virtually every aspect of civil construction is available in the market to make things easier, quicker and more efficient. Listing all these won’t be possible for this author, but, some of the popular categories of these software have been briefly discussed below.
Construction Estimating software : There are varieties of software within this category itself. While some include many functions, others have limited ones and one can choose one depending on their specific needs. Some of the functions performed by these software are, preparation of precise, comprehensive schedules and estimates, cost management, preparation of detailed bids, reports etc., comparison of quotes, keeping track of materials, purchase orders, bills, payrolls etc., maintaining database of completed projects for easy future reference for new projects, office management functions and so on. An efficient estimating software should be user-friendly, quick, be able to adopt customised formulas and calculations, be able to do general accounting, be able to absorb large-scale changes and reflect the same in overall quantities and costs immediately and so on.
There are also simpler individual estimators meant for single element such as earthwork, concrete, paintwork etc. As already mentioned, selection of these is primarily based on individual requirements.
Project Management software : Meant for planning, scheduling, budgeting, monitoring etc. of the resources of an entire or multiple projects. Primavera, MS-Project etc. are few of the most popular ones.
Design software : These are meant for designing the structural elements such as beams, columns, decks etc. of projects. These ton come in all packages. Some are meant for only a particular element such as a beam design software, column design software etc. and there are others that are capable of designing many things. There are also software meant for particular categories of structures such as steel structure design software, concrete structure design software, bridge design software, roadway design software, concrete mix design software and so on.
Computer Aided Design ( CAD ) software : These popular software, widely used by architects, engineers, technicians etc. in almost all sorts of construction projects, are basically meant for designing, generating excellent 2D and 3D models, drafting etc. These software have turned creating design drawings or documents much easier, quicker, besides rendering the products quite attractive. With these, it becomes quite easy to incorporate changes in design documents and also to share them instantly with others. These reduce paperwork substantially as well. AutoCAD is one of the most popular software in this category.
Surveying software : Excellent for recording and maintaing survey data, mapping, profiling, preparing survey drawings or documents, maintaing large database etc. precisely, efficiently and quickly. There are plenty of them available in the market to suit specific needs.
Geotechnical software : Geotechnical studies are of immense importance for any major construction project and involve plenty of data collection, calculations, design etc. These software specifically deal with geotechnical calculations such as stability of slope analysis, designs involving geotechnical data such as foundations, sheet piles, retaining walls and so on.
There are many other software available in all sizes and shapes virtually for all sorts of purposes or needs. These include Contract Management software, Repair and Remodelling software, just to name a few.