Category: structural engineering

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The Different Ways a Steel Structure Can Fail

The job of every structural engineer is to ensure any given building is safe and structurally sound. This can occur during the initial design of a building or during the inspection of an existing building. When it comes to steel structures, it’s hard to imagine them failing due to the strength of the building materials themselves. However, there are several different ways steel structures can fail, and most of them can be prevented with the help of great structural engineering practices. Here are the main ways steel structures can fail.

Insufficient Strength With Connections

Almost every time you hear about a steel structure failing, it’s because of a connection issue. A structural engineer has to put in an incredible amount of thought and detail when designing the joints and connections to ensure they are strong enough. Calculating the strength of joints and connections is a tedious process, and it’s important for the structural engineer and the construction professionals to be on the same page. Any type of miscommunication in the type of bolt or other materials to use can lead to insufficient strength and possible failure.

Tension Failures

Another possible failure in steel structures is putting too much tension on any given member. It takes a significant amount of tension to create this type of failure, and most of the time it only occurs when the structural engineer makes a mistake in the design process. Tension failures are widely known as the most dangerous type of failure, so every structural engineer places a high level of importance on it in the design phase.

Too Much Weight On Beams

Beams can fail in a steel structure as well. It’s fairly simple to figure out when this type of failure will occur, since it happens when the weight on the beams exceed the weight limit they can handle. Lateral torsional buckling is the main concern for every structural engineering company, since it involves predicting where the most significant amount of weight will be placed on the beam. The strongest point of the beam is in the center of it, so buckling could occur and lead to beam failure if the weight on either end of the beam is too much for it to handle.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals that has an extensive portfolio of construction and engineering projects. Whether a steel structure undergoes minor local buckling or has experienced significant structural failure, we have an expert ready to evaluate the situation and provide the best solutions. No project is too large, small or complex for our structural engineering professionals, so don’t hesitate to contact us at any time when you need us.

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What Qualities Should Your Structural Engineer Have?

When you have a new construction project or are doing major renovation work, one of the first experts to call is a structural engineer. However, just like not all structural engineering companies are created equally, neither are individual structural engineers. The best ones will work with the architects, designers and other contractors you hire in order to ensure everyone is on the same page with the same vision for the project. Before you hire a structural engineer for your project, make sure they possess these qualities.

Creativity

No two buildings are exactly alike, so your structural engineer should use their knowledge, skills and expertise to design the safest and strongest building for your particular project. This includes evaluating the weather and climate and using building materials that will withstand the harshest elements. Structural engineers have to be creative in order to build a safe structure, while still fulfilling the needs and vision of the homeowner or property owner.

Extreme Attention To Detail

There are plenty of obvious reasons why a structural engineer has to be extremely detailed in the work they do. One seemingly minor mistake could lead to a fatal flaw in the design of the building. And the structural engineer needs to follow through with the other contractors who are actually building the structure to ensure everyone is on the same page and there’s a complete understanding of their thought process.

Innovative Strategic Thinking

With the technology available to every structural engineering company today, there’s no excuse for not using innovative technology to help design a building. The challenge every structural engineer faces is being able to satisfy the needs and desires of the individuals, while also adhering to safety regulations, sustainability practices and more. It requires innovative and strategic thinking to be completely well-rounded, and taking the time to find a structural engineer who possesses these qualities is well worth the effort.

Problem Solving

Problems will always arise in any project, no matter how large or small it is. Whether it’s external factors like the weather, or other unique challenges that aren’t evident immediately, a good structural engineer must be able to think quickly. The best structural engineering professionals will be able to identify problems before they occur and plan on a solution, but sometimes it’s not possible. In either situation, coming up with the best solutions possible is an important quality for structural engineers to have.

At BE Structural, we have a unique mix of structural engineering professionals that work together every day. Each of our structural engineers are well-rounded when it comes to their education, experience and background, and we are constantly in collaboration with one another to enhance our skills. We strive to be your go-to resource for any structural engineering needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of service to you.

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5 Common Structural Issues in Industrial Buildings

The manufacturing industry is arguably the most important industry in the United States. While it’s important to keep manufacturing machinery and equipment maintained in order to keep production going, it’s equally as important to maintain the industrial buildings where the work is done. If the integrity and safety of an industrial building is compromised, it could lead to the manufacturing plant being shut down until a structural engineer can come in for an evaluation. While significant events like this are not likely with preventative maintenance practices, here are five of the most common structural issues in industrial buildings seen by structural engineering companies.

Interior and Exterior Wall Damage

Both interior and exterior walls will eventually experience some damage in industrial buildings. With forklifts, operations vehicles and other heavy equipment constantly being used, it’s inevitable for some damage to occur. The main thing to do is have a structural engineer evaluate the damage and have it repaired right away if necessary. Most of the damage is cosmetic, but it’s always better to be cautious.

Damage To Columns

Depending on how severe the damage is, a damaged column could be very dangerous from a structural standpoint. It seems like every column in an industrial building is in the way for forklift operators, which means they will get dinged up occasionally. But as long as the damage is minor and doesn’t have a structural impact, then operations can continue as normal.

Inadequate Framing

Many industrial buildings are very old. During the original design of the building, the framing was likely designed to support a certain amount of stress. When structural engineering experts see an issue with framing in an industrial building, most of the time it’s because too much stress was put on it. Because of this, it’s important for managers to have the framing inspected whenever additional equipment is added that could increase the stress on it.

Poor Roof Draining System

When water stays pooled on a roof without draining properly, there’s a wide range of issues that could occur. Any structural engineering company will inspect the roof of an industrial building to ensure gutters are working properly and the best systems are in place to properly drain water from the roof.

Neglected Maintenance Practices

Accidents will happen in an industrial building with so many moving parts at any given time. However, any structural engineer will tell you major issues can be prevented by performing routine maintenance practices. These could include ensuring roof drainage systems are functioning, no rust is present on steel components, all seals and connections are in good shape and more. If there are any issues that need the expertise of a structural engineer, don’t hesitate in contacting one.

BE Structural is here to ensure all industrial buildings are in good working order so manufacturing processes can continue without interruption. Production is critical for every manufacturing plant, but so is safety. As a structural engineering company, we will evaluate every component of your building, identify any potential issues and promptly fix them. To learn more about how we can help in industrial settings, contact us at any time.

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See to Believe These Captivating Structures Opening This Year

Available resources combined with technological advancements in structural engineering have led to some of the most amazing structures ever built in recent years. Whether it’s museums, sports venues, bridges or anything else, there’s never a shortage of structures that will take your breath away when you first see them. Here are some of the most captivating structures that have opened in 2018 or will be opening in the very near future.

Royal Academy of Arts Bridge

The Royal Academy of Arts Bridge in London links together the Burlington Gardens with the Burlington House. There are many complexities with this project from a structural engineering perspective, as it serves a major functional purpose and is also considered to be the most visible part of the entire redevelopment project.

Cosmos Arena

Cosmos Arena was showcased during the 2018 World Cup. It was built in Samara and seats nearly 45,000 fans. By many accounts, Cosmos Arena was one of the most captivating venues for the entire World Cup. The structural engineering components involved a roof of more than two dozen panels that light up at night to signify the connection to the space industry Samara has.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Any structural engineer will be in awe over the Grand Egyptian Museum. It is built near the pyramids and is clearly distinguishable by its triangle shape, translucent wall made of stone and enormous size. In fact, it is now known as one of the largest archaeological museums worldwide and features dozens of large statues and tons of ancient history for visitors to enjoy.

National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar is a unique museum that incorporates many different structural engineering components. The building is more than 400,000 square feet and uses construction materials designed to keep visitors out of the desert heat. The museum amazingly rises from the sea and includes both a pedestrian bridge and a bridge for vehicles connecting to it.

Olmsted Locks and Dam

The Olmsted Locks and Dam has been under construction for nearly 30 years due to funding and construction delays. The project is finally nearing its completion and will eventually be the largest and most costly inland waterway project in the history of the United States. The current locks and dams are often congested and are older, so this new project aims to resolve both issues.

BE Structural is not only amazed at the captivating structures that pop up every year, but we also help design some of them. The role of a structural engineering company spans widely with large structures like these, and we are proud to have been a part of many projects like them over the years. Be sure to contact us to see what we’ve been involved in and how we can help you with your commercial or residential project.

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Will Building with Timber Ever Become the Norm?

A structural engineer is tasked with researching and analyzing the different materials that can be used to design and construct any given building. Some areas may need a steel or concrete building due to its climate or significant weather events, while others may be suitable for timber materials. There’s no doubting the possibility of using timber for nearly every project. However, the question many structural engineering experts have is whether building with timber will become the norm across the industry. Here’s a deeper look at this possibility.

Location Is A Major Factor

Since wood is weaker than steel or concrete, the location of a wood building is a critical component to think about. The reality is wood can be used in any location, but at what cost? Larger and thicker materials will need to be used in areas that experience significant weather events, which will increase the cost of the building and also potentially reduce the amount of living or working space due to the size of the materials. So in most of these situations, building with wood can be less economical in many ways.

Problems With Using Timber in Construction

In addition to the potential higher cost of using timber, structural engineering professionals also bring to light other possible problems. Shrinkage, creep, elastic deformation and similar issues all play a role in why a structural engineer may opt against using timber. The good news is most of the possible problems with using timber can be alleviated by combining other stronger materials with it, especially when you’re building taller structures.

Timber Combined With Other Materials is More Effective

Many structural engineering experts will suggest a hybrid construction for certain projects. Using steel or concrete for the structural aspects, and incorporating wood for columns and other aesthetic purposes, are typically the most effective strategies from structural and cost-effective standpoints. Every construction project is different, so each structural engineering company has to look at the unique aspects of the project to determine the sustainability of the materials used. Hybrid designs are quickly becoming the norm, so the likelihood of complete timber designs becoming standard is very low.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals dedicated to designing and constructing the most sustainable buildings for both commercial and residential purposes. Our structural engineering company provides services extending from the design and construction of a new project, to building renovations and even forensic analysis. We are experts in everything dealing with structural engineering, so contact us at any time and we would be proud to serve you.

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How the Structural Engineering Industry is Changing with Technology

Technology impacts every industry in many different ways. As technological advancements continue to develop, structural engineering professionals always have to stay informed to ensure they are using the best practices. Whether it’s by incorporating more energy efficient materials or boosting productivity and efficient processes in the construction process, technology is typically beneficial for a structural engineer. Here are some of the main technological advancements used in structural engineering today.

The Use of Drones in Construction

Drones are used by structural engineering professionals to take aerial photos of a construction site, monitor activities and survey areas where accessibility is limited. The photos taken by drones have high resolution and can be used to take measurements, create digital models and much more. Plus, the use of drones is much safer for a structural engineer when it comes to surveying tall areas like roofs or bridges.

3D Printing

3D printing has significantly developed over the last several years. And in the coming years, it is expected to become an even more valuable resource for structural engineering professionals. Using 3D printing allows experts to create more accurate design details, as well as more customization for projects. 3D printing is typically used most effectively for commercial properties or in large-scale residential complexes.

Data Analysis Tools

There is a lot of data collected by a structural engineer before, during and after any construction project. Analyzing this substantial amount of data is important, but sometimes isn’t possible due to the sheer quantity. Data analysis tools continue to develop today to help structural engineering experts analyze the data collected most effectively. The technology, software and cloud solutions available today help gather significant amounts of data quickly and make it easily accessible to all members of the construction team to promote efficiency, accuracy and more.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality tools are typically used at the beginning stages of the design process. One of the main uses for these tools is to visualize how a particular construction design will fit in any given area. This allows structural engineers to identify any potential errors or complications and can fix them before the project even begins.

Virtual reality technology includes scanners and drones to collect information. This technology is helpful not only in the design process, but also to allow project managers to constantly monitor the progress of the project without having to be physically present. Accuracy and efficiency are the two main benefits of virtual reality tools and are increasing in importance every day.

BE Structural stays on top of the latest technological trends to ensure the most valuable resources are being used at all times. Any structural engineering company that doesn’t adopt the latest technology leaves room for critical errors which could be prevented. By combining technology with our years of experience and substantial knowledge, we are your go-to resource for any construction or renovation project. Be sure to contact us to learn more about the technology we use today.

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What Materials are used in Sustainable Structural Engineering?

As people and companies become more conscious about energy consumption, perspectives in structural engineering are changing as well. It’s easy to upgrade appliances or install energy efficient equipment into new home designs, but those can get costly very quickly. The good news is there are sustainable materials used around the world today that are safe for the environment and can make very nice homes. Here are some of the materials a structural engineer will consider using when building a sustainable home.

Earth Bags

Earth bags are made of polypropylene material and are filled with soil and other inorganic materials. They are designed to hold up better than concrete or bricks, since the bags will not crack or be easily damaged during events like an earthquake. Earth bags are used prominently today in developing countries to build sustainable homes.

Earth Blocks

A structural engineering company will sometimes use earth blocks instead of bricks to create a more sustainable design. The earth blocks consist of a mix of clay, rubble and subsoil and are compressed at a very high pressure. In fact, earth blocks are actually stronger than concrete blocks or bricks, but only use a very small amount of cement. By using a small amount of cement, earth blocks are sustainable and reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

Retrofitting

Seismic retrofitting can be used to rebuild, repair or strengthen structures in general. After a structural engineer evaluates a building, they can perform actions such as repairing any damage, increasing shear wall density, strengthening ground conditions and more. Seismic retrofitting has helped strengthen thousands of buildings worldwide, especially in developing countries that experience earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Trombe Walls

Trombe walls are used in sustainable structural engineering to create more of a passive solar design in homes. The outside of the walls are made with plastic or glass panes, and the inside of the walls have a higher heat capacity. What makes these walls sustainable and energy efficient is the fact that the external wall will absorb the daytime heat and transfer the heat into the home when needed. Trombe walls are used effectively in areas where sunlight is present the majority of the time and people want to create a more sustainable and energy efficient design for their structure.

BE Structural is a team of experts with a wide range of experience. Our structural engineering company has worked with sustainable materials in different construction projects, and we always practice innovative thinking. It’s important to work with a qualified structural engineering professional if you’re considering using sustainable materials for your next construction project, so contact us to see how we can help you.

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3 Types of Failures in a Steel Structure

Steel structures are unique in both an appearance and construction aspect. Steel is an extremely strong material with many different levels of strengths and members that all have to be connected correctly in order to make a building structurally sound. Not all steel members are created equally with the same strength, so structural engineering professionals must test the strength of each member against the force put against it during construction. Not doing so can lead to structural failure, which can cause devastating consequences. Here are three of the most common types of failures in steel structures that every structural engineering company sees.

Beam Failure

Beam failure in steel structures doesn’t occur very often, but it is a legitimate concern every structural engineer has to be conscious of. This type of failure happens when a beam doesn’t flex properly or experiences something called lateral torsional buckling. Since pressure is typically not applied directly to the center of the beam during construction, twisting can occur. Failure typically happens when the beam is not braced with anything to support the twisting motion.

Tension Failure

Every structural engineer knows the risks and consequences of trying to stretch any given material too much. When designing any given member in tension, structural engineering professionals must be cautious of a possible net section rupture or block shear failure. These are two common failures directly related to tension, but typically do not occur when an experienced structural engineer works on the project.

Connection Failure

Connection failure is by far the most common type of failure in a steel structure. The connection is typically the first component to fail if the force of the load is more than anticipated. When a structural engineer designs the construction of a building, they use precise calculations to determine the strength of bolts or other connections needed. However, one minor miscalculation or a misstep in the construction process can lead to unpredicted force and failure at that particular connection. The challenge for every structural engineer is to take human error into consideration during the construction phase and design the connections to withstand a little more force than calculated.

BE Structural is here to help with your commercial or residential construction project, structural inspection, complete building renovation and anything else related to your building. We are proud to have a diverse group of structural engineering professionals so we can handle any project, no matter how large or small it is. To learn more about how our team can help you or your company, contact us today.

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How to Choose the Right Engineering Firm For Your Job

The success of any construction project can be greatly impacted by the structural engineering company you hire to do the analysis upfront. Every structural engineer has their own strengths, weaknesses and experiences, so finding the right fit for your particular project is important. You may have to spend some time and effort researching the best companies, but you’ll be rewarded in the end. Here are important things to consider when choosing the right structural engineering company.

Consider Qualifications Rather Than Cost

Choosing a structural engineering firm based solely on cost is one of the worst things to do. Instead, your decision should be based on their qualifications as it relates to your specific project. For example, consider the firm’s experience with other similar jobs, how available they are, their performance history, technical skills and certifications, values, timeliness and more. Your chances of being pleased with the entire process and end result will increase when these qualifications are given higher regard than the cost.

Ensure Compliance Codes Are Prioritized

The structural engineering company you ultimately hire should adhere to all compliance codes in your area. If they do not prioritize these compliance codes, you could be on the hook for fines and potential long-term issues. Be sure to have a serious and extensive discussion with the structural engineer from the firm you’re considering and get a comprehensive answer regarding how they adhere to compliance codes.

Evaluate Their Attitude and Behavior

You have to feel comfortable with the structural engineer in more ways than one. Since you’ll be collaborating with them extensively over the course of the project, evaluating their behavior and overall attitude is important. Make sure you are on the same page from the very beginning. When you get the sense the structural engineering firm has your best interests in mind, you’ll feel more comfortable moving forward with them.

Have A Structured Agreement In Place

No matter how much you trust the structural engineer, you have to have a structured written agreement in place to save yourself from potential issues in the future. Most large structural engineering companies will have these documents ready, but it’s also advisable to have your own legal counsel evaluate the agreement.

BE Structural is a team of experienced structural engineers ready to go to work for you. We have experience in many different areas, including structural inspections, custom home design and renovations, commercial property assessments, industrial engineering services and much more. When you’re ready to begin your next project, contact us to start the process of choosing the right engineering firm for your job.

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The Answers Behind the Miami Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

Back in March 2018, a pedestrian bridge under construction in Miami collapsed and killed six people. The project was designed to create a unique walkway to help students at Florida International University cross the highway safely. However, the unique design proved to be too difficult to accomplish and a fatal flaw in the construction process was never discovered. In the several months since the accident occurred, more answers have surfaced as structural engineering experts have been analyzing the situation and have contributed countless hours of investigative work.

What Caused The Bridge To Collapse?

Structural engineering experts have concluded that the complex structural design of the bridge left an obvious weakness at a connection point. This is most likely the reason why the bridge collapsed, since the amount of stress put on the concrete brace was too much for it to handle. As every structural engineer evaluates the situation, it’s becoming even clearer this was the problem that led to the devastating consequences.

The Bridge Was Not Structurally Sound or Logical

Prior to the pedestrian bridge collapsing, engineers noticed cracks in the concrete and became worried. Investigators believe the construction crew was working to tighten the steel rods in the support truss in order to address the cracks when the bridge collapsed. It’s possible the overtightening of the steel rods led to them snapping and causing the bridge to collapse under its own weight.

What’s being discussed at length is the design of the bridge itself. The unique design seemed like a good idea, but it’s clear it was a little too over-the-top for the structural engineering team working on it. Some of the findings by independent structural engineering firms have led to similar conclusions, which are that it’s inconclusive as to who is actually at fault. The atypical design of the bridge did not make it structurally sound, but the calculations and plans for the project did not clearly indicate what the root cause of the issue was.

The Role of Structural Engineers in The Investigation

Answers will still be coming over the course of several months or years, and structural engineering experts will be at the forefront of them. The role of a structural engineering company and its experts is to present the facts to the investigative team. As of now, it appears the structural design was the main cause for the bridge collapsing, but as further evidence is discovered by structural engineering experts, those answers could change.

BE Structural is a structural engineering company that is well-rounded in anything involved with structural engineering. We are experts in more than just traditional engineering and construction, and always think outside of the box to better serve our customers. Feel free to contact us at any time to learn more about the Miami pedestrian bridge collapse or about how our company can serve you.