Optimising cellular beam design is a complex process, particularly if fire resistance is needed. The most cost effective configuration depends on a combination of fabrication details, the price of steel and the amount of paint needed.
Designer and manufacturer of long span cellular beams, Fabsec produces a free software package to help engineers with this optimisation.
The process takes account of the latest material pricing information from the company's joint owners, steel fabricators Severfield-Rowen and William Hare, intumescent paint supplier Leigh's Paints and steel supplier Corus.
FBEAM3's eam Wizard function automates the comparison of many variables.
The optimiser gives the most economic web, and top and bottom flange dimensions for given loadings, says Fabsec managing director Phil Toczek.
'You can revise the widths, plate thicknesses and so on if required, ' says Arup structural engineer Jonathan Portlock, who has been using the program during the past year on the More London development. An architect might ask for a minimum depth of edge beam or there may be a request for particular service openings. The software enables comparison of the alternatives and 'you can put a cost to a change early on in the project', says Portlock.
The software was initially produced with the Steel Construction Institute, but Fabsec now carries out development in house with third party accreditation from Buro Happold.
The current version includes functions to ensure companies have the latest release. Future adaptations will take account of new paint technologies and link more closely to general structural programmes.
www. fabsec. co. uk