Almost a third of engineers who regularly design steel to concrete connections struggle because there is no software to design the different elements of a steel to concrete connection as a whole.
That is the key finding of a survey of 100 civil engineers who regularly perform this safety-critical task.
Three out of 10 engineers also complain that optimisation of the whole connection is difficult and time consuming with little time for iterations. Less than 20% said they found the baseplate rigidity difficult to check.
Currently, it is a common practice to use a number of different tools to complete the design of steel to concrete connections, including hand calculations, with each addressing a different element of the connection - anchor, baseplate, weld, stiffener – with the engineer following several technical guidelines.
More than 55% of respondents reported that on average it takes more than two hours to complete a single steel-to-concrete connection design, highlighting the opportunity to further streamline the design process.
Many respondents highlighted concerns around over-reliance on software:
“The design methodology is cumbersome and overly conservative, and few engineers actually understand how to do it. They just plug in the software,” said one respondent.
“It can often be a topic that falls into the gaps between the designer of the steelwork elements and the concrete elements,” said another.
“The choice of fixing, quality of concrete fixed to and method of installation as well as incorrect design all contribute to failures. The importance of on-site testing of designs and installations should not be underestimated,” said another.
The findings of the survey will be debated at the next NCE100 Breakfast Club later this month and reported in full in a future issue of New Civil Engineer.