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Need for better and faster strength analysis of structures.

FEM Data Streamliner: “Engineers need to be more involved in the development of software.”

Over two thirds (70%) of people working in the field of structural engineering in The Netherlands say that the quality of strength analysis of structures needs improvement. A group almost as large (69%) wants the analysis to go faster. These results are some of the highlights of a study organized by FEM Data Streamliner. 36 leading analysts, calculators, constructors and managers in the field of structural engineering have been interviewed.

The study proves that experts in the industry are asking for improvement. “I am not surprised by these findings, because, being a former calculator, I have experienced these problems myself”, Edgar Peetam, FEM specialist and developer of FEM Data Streamliner, comments. “It is the reason why I started developing FEM Data Streamliner.”

Circle diagram showing the  outcome of the survey

Worrying

Another result of the study is the fact that 43% of Dutch structural engineers spend more than 20% of their time on reporting. Peetam: “This number is quite worrying. It´s not a good situation for both the engineers themselves as well as their management. You want engineers to focus on engineering. That is what they like to do and what they’re good at. And let’s be honest: they are too expensive for doing reporting and administration.”

Managers don’t have a clear view on the post processing part of a project. They don’t always know how much time it takes. And because most managers don ́t have a background in doing calculations they also don ́t always knowhow the calculation process can be optimized.”

Certification standards

Peetam continues: “There is nothing wrong with engineers writing reports. But there are a lot of repeating tasks that don’t necessarily have to be done by engineers. For example creating result plots or copying load matrices into a software model.”

Strength evaluations of frame and plate structures are usually made with a combination of software tools and calculations by hand. Most software only checks structures with the Von Mises criterion, using the Finite Element Method (FEM). Newly developed software also contains the strength requirements as laid down in standards provided by major certification authorities, like DNV and ABS, and other standards such as ISO, Eurocode , API and AISC.

FEM Data Streamliner has developed software that is an add-on to existing FEM software. It provides tools for hand calculations and can be used as an aid for pre- and post-processing FEM-models. Its basis goal is to check if structures comply with the required codes and standards of today. “Because it is an add-on, one of the advantages is that engineers don’t have to get used to new software”, Peetam points out.

Construction and IT

FEM Data Streamliner is developed by engineers working in the field of offshore, marine and heavy mechanical industry, together with IT-specialists. Peetam: “It is important to connect the world of construction with the world of IT. You can tell when software is developed by IT-people without field experience.”

FEM Data Streamliner is made with the sole purpose to improve the efficiency and the quality of the process. But it will never make the role of structural engineers less important. Peetam: “The work of structural engineers can never be replaced by software. Calculations by hand will always be needed. You will also need human expertise to check if the findings of a software model are correct. It is our mission to make structural engineers more important. That can only be achieved if we give them the opportunity to focus on the things they’re good at. With FEM Data Streamliner we want to add a tool to the toolbox of engineers and support them with their work.”

Better and more flexible

“With good software projects can be done faster, but also better”, Peetam states. “For example: too often Excel sheets are used. One wrong formula in a cell, and you’ll end up with errors in the results that are almost impossible to straighten out.”

FEM Data Streamliner is developed to be used in a SaaS-model (software as a service). Peetam: “Besides a very small monthly fee, users will only par per use. It is made for the engineer that wants to be flexible. You can buy a license if you want, but I believe that the pay-per-use-model better suits the modern engineer.”

SOFTWARE TESTERS

The start-up company FEM Data Steamliner is looking for people to test the software with the new implemented standards. "The more feedback we can get from end users, the better", Edgar Peetam explains. People that are interested can contact Edgar Peetam at edgarpeetam@femds.com

About the study

The study was organized by FEM Data Streamliner and executed by Nasano Management in May 2016. 36 experts in the field of structural engineering had an extensive interview in which they were asked about important subjects in their field. The questioned engineers work in offshore industry, marine industry, crane construction and heavy mechanics. 31% of the interviewees is an analyst or calculator. Others hold positions as team leader (28%), constructor (19%) and project leader (17%).

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