AllyCAD Showcase

'A Long Standing History'

John de Smidt
JDS Planning and Design, East London

Many long standing customers of AllyCAD and Civil Designer reside in the heart of bustling East London. Among the well known names is John de Smidt of JDS Planning & Design, an energetic civil engineer who is known by the entire technical team of Knowledge Base. The first investment that his company undertook in 1990 was the acquisition of AllyCAD followed by the then Stardust programme to start a rich and exciting history of infrastructure design

Reams of AllyCAD designs piled high on John's desk and up to date files of Technical Tip Tutorials displays his keen interest in the software. John's interest surfaced some twenty-five years ago while working for various consulting engineers in the industry. "My introduction to infrastructure design software occurred while I was employed at Saunders & Wium. We were working on the design of a huge roads project in 1978 and there were not many reliable software programs available at that time. The launch of Stardust in 1989 gave us the ideal opportunity to cut our teeth in the use of infrastructure design."

The project that John was referring to was a forty kilometer roads initiative in Transkei. After successfully completing the project in record time, John progressed to complete other high level ventures and built up an extensive track record in the civil consulting industry. The year 1990 however, provided the landmark signal that led to the formation of JDS Planning and Design.

John fondly remembers the early years and is amazed how far the software has progressed since then. "AllyCAD has advanced from Dos to Windows, and Stardust has evolved to become Civil Designer which offers all the major civil disciplines in one program. I am also in constant contact with the Support Centre when I get stuck on a function and find the service to be of great value," explains John.

JDS Planning & Design offers a wide range of services specializing in roads and traffic engineering, stormwater design and modeling, township and housing development and master planning and infrastructure development initiatives. Part of the organization's portfolio is to operate as an external consultant to Lukhozi Consulting Engineers. The firm's design office, of which John is a member, is situated in central East London.

Lukhozi Consulting has a staff complement of 51 members across their five centers. These include the East London, Port Elizabeth, Queenstown and Cape Town branches. "I am very privileged to be consulting for this dynamic company. They have gone from strength to strength since the company was first formed in August 2000."
  Despite his varied role, John has singled out township design as his key strength. "I am considered to be a township design fundi and embark on integrated designs encompassing everything from roads design and planning, to sewer, stormwater and water designs. I am also passionate about highway designs, interchanges and urban traffic movement designs. A second passion is stormwater modeling and design."

An intricate township project which is currently in progress and which has created reams of AllyCAD and Civil Designer designs on John's desk, is the Bardale site near Mfuleni in the Cape.

This low cost housing venture began as an emergency housing assignment in 2005. The red tape attached to the project however caused considerable delays and the project only gained momentum in mid 2006 with the completion of the first phase of 1950 erven completed by the end of 2007.

"We were recently given the go-ahead by the Cape Town City Council to proceed with phases two and three for a further 2050 erven in July 2008. Since then, tender documentation has been prepared in mid September 2008 with the contractor expected to be on site by November 2008."

"I've completed all the internal road and stormwater design work and am currently finalising the sewer and water reticulation. The project is however not a straightforward assignment as much of the design work is hampered because of the number of informal settlements dotted all over the site. There have also been a number of town planning issues to deal with which, although frustrating at times, has in a way also been quite rewarding as I was allowed the opportunity to provide input into the layout from an engineering point of view. Despite these issues, we are on track to wrap up phases two and three within the timeframe," explains John.

When asked for his input on software improvements, John smiles sheepishly. "I have a long standing history with the Software Support Centre and it's good to know that my input over the years, especially in light of the current surveys being conducted, is being heard. There is not much that I could add as there will always be room for increased software functionality, but it's nice to know that there are ongoing developments and that the software will continue to evolve in line with industry requirements."

image John de Smidt obtained his Civil Engineering qualification at the Port Elizabeth Technikon. His working career began in 1976 acquiring extensive experience at various civil engineering firms before establishing his own company, JDS Planning & Design in 1990. John balances a fulfilling career with a keen interest in paddling. He has paddled the grueling 244 sunshine coast surf-ski challenge 5 times and has recently competed in the Drakensberg Challenge canoe marathon. John is married and has four children.

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