woman on computer using steel connection software

2 Best Steel Connection Design Software

Every company wants to reduce manual labor and associated costs in the complex and competitive construction industry. Increasing efficiency and profitability in a landscape inundated with a constant stream of competitors is paramount. However, in the world of steel-to-steel connections, the best solution to accomplish both can do much more to assist in the planning and execution of a project, and it all starts from the engineering and design phases.

There’s a vast array of options available in the field of steel connection design software, which allows designers to tackle even the most complex projects. These tools enable digital design, tolerance testing, and simulation, offering complete input, flexibility, and perspective at every step of the design process before physical construction begins. Through the use of steel connection design software, all the variables of a project can be assessed and engineered in real time in a simulated 3D space. This level of support allows projects to be designed with greater efficiency and accuracy, enabling better management of costs and other factors than ever before.

When construction begins, you can be confident that the best connection types and engineering decisions were made during the design process with reliable software tools. This assurance comes from the meticulous measurement of every step, providing comprehensive information to ensure each decision in a structure’s design is optimal. While at the end of the day, the quality of a project’s design still hinges on the engineer’s skill, construction design software only aids in this process, helping skilled designers produce even better results more efficiently and flexibly.

HOW CAN CONNECTION DESIGN SOFTWARE IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND CREATE BETTER STRUCTURES?

Considering that the construction industry is only getting more competitive, companies are opting for construction design software to expedite the design and engineering process. However, this software can accomplish much more than quicker turnaround times and better-engineered structures. Here are just some factors that prove how practical, useful, and overall beneficial using software to design steel connections and structures can be to any construction project, regardless of scale or complexity.

Allows for efficient project management

Construction projects require the coordination and combined efforts of many different people and components working together, so managing projects efficiently and keeping everything organized is no easy task. However, one aspect of construction design software that streamlines these various factors is how it organizes them. It allows management to understand priorities better and keep tabs on who is doing what and specifically how those things are being done.

Keep costs under control

Considering the complex task of designing structures can often lead to budgets exceeding their limits seemingly at a moment’s notice, designing a structure using the software can mitigate this issue by allowing designers and managers to keep track of costs in real-time, fixing potential financial issues before they can be allowed to cause a project’s budget to explode. Anytime a design decision could cause a project to go over budget, more cost-effective solutions are discovered and compared, all in a low-stakes digital environment, allowing the most financially efficient version of a structure to be the one that moves onto the physical construction phase.

Effective risk management

The last thing you want is a potential design risk to go unnoticed until it’s too late, and construction design software can detect potential design problems and other risk factors before they’re allowed to be constructed. This way, errors can promptly be fixed for safer alternatives, making job sites and structures safer while eliminating costly repairs or fixes during the construction phase.

Better, quicker communication

When every mistake or miscommunication could be costly or create a safety risk, construction design software allows for quickly and efficiently transferring information and ideas. This means everyone involved in a project can stay one step ahead, minimizing misunderstandings and mistakes that could arise from human error or a lack of information.

More organized documentation

Construction design software makes organizing and keeping track of vital design documents a thing of the past. This software allows documents to be logged and organized, so all the documentation vital to a project’s completion can be easily found in one place.

Informed decision-making

Perhaps the best overall benefit of construction design software is how it can aid in decision-making, specifically by ensuring every decision made on a project is a logical, evidence-based one that can be further optimized to increase profitability and prioritize safety and efficiency. When every decision is vetted through a computer model that provides instant feedback about costs, risks, timelines, structural integrity, and any other relevant information, everyone involved in a project can be confident they’re making the best-informed decisions possible, backed by the software’s data and analysis.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SOFTWARE FOR THE JOB

While working with any construction design software to engineer structures provides benefits similar to the ones listed above, it’s also true that not all software is created equal. Choosing which is best often hinges on the parameters of a given project, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each particular software.

This can be anything from the user interface navigability to the features and priorities a software specializes in. There is also a huge variety of available software, meaning the perfect software exists for any project, regardless of size and complexity.

Conversely, this also means there are many possible choices, and making the best one can seem daunting. Well-known software like SkyCiv, Tekla, and Struct4u, for instance, may provide aspects of what your project needs but are lacking in other areas or are too expensive to be the right fit.

The two most well-known and widely used connection design software at this time are RAM Connections and IDEA StatiCa. Since these are the most popular choices in the world of steel-to-steel connections, it’s important to understand their pros and cons to determine which is best for the demands of certain types of projects.

Here are RAM Connections and IDEA StatiCa compared to assess their ideal applications and potential downsides relative to each other. The right choice means safer, more efficient structures for your project needs.

RAM Connections

Developed by Bentley Systems, a company responsible for a wide variety of construction and infrastructure software, RAM Connections offers a familiar interface that seamlessly integrates itself into the canon of Bentley software. This means anyone familiar with their other products can use and navigate the interface of RAM Connections with greater ease, and this user-friendly approach contributes to RAM Connections largely being the industry standard. Since so many designers and other construction personnel are already familiar with Bentley-developed software, using RAM Connections is a natural fit.

Regulations and codes can vary heavily depending on where in the world a structure is going to be located, meaning its design needs to conform to those legal standards. Another important attribute of RAM Connections is the variety of international codes it supports, meaning you can be certain the structure being designed adheres to the legal requirements of wherever it needs to. This makes RAM Connections an attractive choice for international building projects since designers can be certain their structure is beholden to local regulations.

This immediate guidance and information about code compliance also streamline the design process. Since that information is made available immediately, necessary adjustments can be made just as quickly. Broadly speaking, the designs possible to achieve in RAM Connections are primarily dictated by compliance with the regulations of your chosen region.

In comparison to IDEA StatiCa, RAM Connections is a fraction of the cost per year, but this comes with one sizably important limitation. RAM Connections costs $ 1146.00 per year, but the use of the software is limited only to steel connections. Incorporating concrete and prestressing into your simulated designs is something IDEA StatiCa has, which RAM Connections does not, although at a significantly higher yearly cost for each.

IDEA StatiCa

As opposed to RAM Connections’ emphasis on code compliance, IDEA StatiCa focuses on rendering connection behaviors more accurately. This means that weight tolerances, the likelihood of bending or buckling, and other factors that influence a structure’s design can be displayed and tested accurately.

Another major advantage of IDEA StatiCa is its inclusion of nearly all possible connection types. It opens up a more comprehensive array of options and possibilities when engineering steel connections while encouraging designers to develop the most efficient, effective solutions possible among its seemingly endless varieties. The software also includes templates that allow a designer to quickly try a certain type of connection and experiment without unnecessarily sacrificing design time.

Unlike RAM Connections, IDEA SatiCa’s user interface design isn’t heavily steeped in the conventions of other products that engineers may be familiar with. This is largely because IDEA StatCa is an independent product, as opposed to RAM, which adheres to the standards of other Bentley-developed software. While that is true, IDEA StatiCa’s independence means it’s compatible with a great degree of other widely-used relevant software, and the user interface itself is designed with ease of use in mind. This, combined with its flexibility and an unparalleled number of available connection types, has made it a very popular choice.

While more versatile and arguably simpler to use, IDEA StatiCa is remarkably more expensive than RAM Connections. The pricing model allows users to pay for the materials they want to use, ignoring what they don’t, but the result is still very expensive by comparison. IDEA StatiCa for steel costs $2,590 yearly, concrete costs an additional $2390, and Prestressing features an extra $4,190 yearly.

Conclusion

While IDEA StatiCa offers unparalleled options and compatibility with many other independent software, the reliability of RAM Connections’ code-compliant focus and its comparatively low price somewhat outweighs the two.

While any steel connection design software offers roughly similar benefits, from streamlining workflow to managing risks and overall aiding in the creation of safer, more efficiently constructed structures, choosing the right software is all about weighing the needs of your project against the attributes of a given software. Regardless, the advantages of using steel connection software to design and simulate your steel-to-steel connection projects speak for themselves.

Please note: this article was written and published in May 2024. Steel Connection Design Software is a rapidly changing field, so we encourage you to review pricing and feature information on each platform’s website.

 

 

 

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