Swept Path Analysis is the simulation of a vehicle moving within a digital design. Its purpose is to create designs (such as roads, driveways, developments or parking facilities) that can accommodate vehicle needs during operation, or to ensure that specific vehicles can manoeuvre through specific routes. Although commonly referenced as ‘analysis’ or ‘checks’, swept paths simulations are a pre-cursor to many design elements and heavily inform overall geometry. For example, items such as kerb alignments, junction radii, road markings, parking spaces and loading/unloading facilities are all heavily reliant upon swept path simulations.
Professionals with varying levels of skill and experience, who work across many different industries and company sizes, can find value in swept path analysis software.
Whilst swept paths are a critical component of geometric on-street design, they are commonly used in many other environments too; such as inside of buildings to cater for accessibility, for planning of light rail schemes, to plan aircraft land movements, to layout construction sites and even in landscape design to plot routes for vehicles around planting and other softworks areas.
There is an understanding that swept path analysis is difficult, if not impossible, without the use of tailored software. Powerful design software gives designers and engineers the tools to not only portray an accurate depiction of what a project’s result will look like, but also a proposal on how the swept path scheme will be constructed. It can also help with project collaboration and make it easier to ensure that issued drawings comply with office and project standards.
To determine (and to justify) whether swept path analysis should be performed, it is helpful to consider the following types of questions:
The versatility of swept path analysis software means it can benefit organisations of any size working on projects of any scale. Here are some scenarios where swept path analysis could be used to benefit a project:
Abnormal loads are loads that are very low in frequency but challenging in size, shape or weight. Examples include moving wind turbine components to remote sites for erection, transporting large construction or military machinery by road or moving modular building or structural components into place. Importantly, Abnormal loads may be long, tall, wide or they may be of a non-challenging size but extremely heavy. Due to these factors, a specialist consultant will normally be contracted with experience in performing swept path analysis on such projects, or more commonly the transport and logistics company will have capability to perform simulations internally.
Deciding whether to undertake swept path analysis and purchasing appropriate software to accomplish this is not an easy decision. Depending on your scenario or role, the number of variables to consider can be large; everything from 3D visualisation functionality to the bandwidth of your design team can have an impact on your results and competitive edge.