Connection design has been one of the biggest challenges of steel projects for structural engineers and detailers, worldwide. That is of no surprise but we decided to dig a little bit deeper and put some numbers on the table.
We’ve managed to gather data from hundreds of experienced engineers using our IDEA StatiCa Effectivity Calculator. This is a FREE tool for estimation of the time & money impact when implementing IDEA StatiCa into your design and code-checking workflows. We are then able to analyse the data provided by structural engineers and detailers and get valuable insights into the engineering community and how it is dealing (and struggling) with connection design.
Since January 2019, we have collected inputs from more than one thousand engineers/users. After we filtered out duplicates and incomplete inputs, we were left with 600 responses from structural engineers and detailers from around the world. Here is what they had to say.
Based on the collected data from the Effectivity calculator, an average steel project consists of approx. 46% of simple connections, 32% of moderate connections, and 22% of complex connections.
Engineers spent approx. 17 minutes to design and code-check a simple steel connection, including the creation of all the necessary reports and outputs for authorities and other stakeholders. For complex connections, this goes to hours. Our data inputs vary a lot, with an average value of about 214 minutes.
What does it mean? Designing and code-checking of 20% of steel connections in an average project take almost 70% of the time dedicated to connection design.
Connection design is a unique discipline that combines inputs from the analytical models (loading) and structural models (topology of the connection and its components). Structural engineers and detailers thus leverage data they already have in other applications.
Which software is the most preferred among structural engineers?
The most often mentioned combination of tools is Tekla Structures for detailing and SAP2000 for structural analysis, followed closely by STAAD.Pro and Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis. It goes without saying that IDEA StatiCa has BIM links with all of these and many more FEA/CAD applications.
Engineers spent 34% of their time on connection design
Based on the respondent’s answers, the connection design (including everything from pre-design, calculations, reports, revisions, necessary sketches, or detailing) takes on average 34% of the engineer’s time. That means approx. 54 hours monthly per person (considering 160 man-hours per month). This all with their current tools, i.e. before implementing IDEA StatiCa.
The average number of structural engineers in the office was 3.6, which means 195 hours dedicated to connections, every month, 2340 hours annually.
Benchmark in connection design
We are comparing the data of how laborious is each type of connection with benchmark values we have collected from our customer base of 3700 engineering offices and fabricators. A skilled structural engineer or detailer using IDEA StatiCa can design steel connections in minutes:
This is an average value across various regions as well as different workflows (sometimes the one person does the whole connection design process, sometimes it is split between engineer and detailer)
Additional time savings, not assumed here, come from not modeling and/or loading the connection again in IDEA StatiCa but to reuse data from another application using IDEA StatiCa BIM links. This translates into another 5-10% of the time saved by using a CAD BIM link and approx. 15% using FEA software BIM links.
Value of engineering work
The hourly cost of engineering is very different from country to country, continent to continent. An average gathered from our respondents is USD 65 (EUR 54). This is not related only to the connection design – ask for more money! Work of structural engineers and detailers matters to all the project stakeholders. You bring in a substantial amount of value, do not be afraid to be more confident!
A report on your connection design process
The Effectivity calculator helps you visualize where you are now and how your connection design process can change, for the better. After you input the data (takes a minute), you get clear metrics you can show around the office and get the discussion going:
IDEA StatiCa mitigates the struggle of connection design which helps you save time & money. Migrating from your old solution means:
The biggest time savings can be realized on the complex connection design, where IDEA StatiCa cuts-down the time by up to 83%. This particular example assumes using a CAD BIM link. Taking into account the necessary costs of purchasing IDEA StatiCa, the investment will pay back in 2-3 months.
Get the discussion going
You have seen what over 600 structural engineers say about connection design. How is it in your office? Are your colleagues and superiors open to discussing how to make your organization better? Connection design has been one of the biggest challenges of steel projects, in the US as well as in France and Singapore. And there has not been much innovation in this filed in the last 20 years. Structural engineers and detailers deserve better. We encourage you to put the numbers on the table and improve your connection design process, today.
Let’s launch the Effectivity Calculator and get into it!