A major oil and gas company is currently on talk to our company about the possibility of us to offer a system support for them to speed up the process in Tekla modeling, especially in detailing connections. So the Director agreed to it, on the basis of system that I have prepared for the company over the years.
I said yes, since this is what we have been implementing in our office. We have been benefiting from the system, so why not we share it with other companies, and make a profit out of it.
In many projects, usually there’s a general requirement for the connections. Some clients have their own standard connections that should be applied whenever possible. In a joint, the connection detail should be determined, among others:
- Connection type (shear plate, double angle, etc
- Connection material (shear plate thickness, angle size, material)
- Connector detail (number and size of bolts/welds, bolt type (std/TC/DTI), bolt connection assumption (N/X/SC))
- Necessary cuts (cope, block, bevel, rat holes, etc)
- Additional connection material (stiffener, haunch, etc)
And the connection detail above depends on many factors, among others:
- Members type (beam to column, beam to beam, bracing, etc)
- Type of members’ profile (W, HSS, Channel, Angle, WT, etc)
- Members’ sizes (including flange thickness, web thickness, etc)
- Geometry (perpendicular, skew, elevation, etc)
- The load
- The loading type (service load ASD or factored load LRFD)
And the result of the connection details above should be checked against the connection capacity:
- Connection strength vs the load
- Flexural strength
- Tearout capacity
As we can see, there are so many factors need to be considered when detailing a connection. One of biggest project that I ever involved was an office complex consisted 21,000 tons of steel, that we split into several models. It was huge we can’t even combine the office complex into a model and make a simple public viewer out of it. That’s when we started to consider migrating to 64 bit system. It’s another subject that will be discussed later.
All of those factors are combined in a macro system that integrates the AutoConnection + AutoDefaults + Excel-Plugin. Below is the diagram that I made yesterday.
In the project with 21,000 tons of steel, there were almost 40,000 joints. It was approximated that there were about 25,000 joints that should follow the standard connections. I did a comparison. By doing the connection one-by-one using loaded components as usual, as well as thoroughly checking the capacity as required, it took me about 5 minutes to complete a single joint. So it would’ve taken me about 2,080 hours to detail all 25,000 joints.
By using a complete automation process, it took me just about 5 seconds per joint. So for all 25,000 joints, it would take just about 34 hours! See the huge difference? Over 2,000 hours! Less headache and more accuracy (reduces human error factor).
How much does it worth? By shifting this extra time into doing another project, and say you bill a mere USD 50 per hour (and I know many companies that bill much more), it would bring you an extra income of about USD 100,000! No bad, right? ;)
By the way, automated modeling (connection) above is just one of the automations in our system. We also have it in several other areas that will be discussed in other time.
The point I want to bring is working smart really pays off, compared to just working hard. Agreed?