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Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Standard Engineering Design Procedure

I work for a small-ish Structural Design and Envelope Consulting firm. We do various structural designs ranging from $10k additions to $7 million complexes. Most of our major projects in question are in the range of 1-2 million. The firm has (2) senior (nearing end of career seniors), (3) 20+years, and (2) 5-10 years. We just hired a new guy and want to hire a few more (hoping we grow).

Now the task. I was asked to develop a sort of standard outline for how calculations should be performed and documented. this way projects can be handed over for quicker review, complete change of employee, and better CA effort. The most senior guys will not follow it and that is ok. This is more for the new hires and even the licensed people. I was wondering if anyone else has had or knows of something similar. I have only worked at small firms and never had something like this...

My idea:
1****) A general cover page for all loading. Summary of all relevant wind loads, seismic CS, live, dead, snow. the importance and factors. used for early stage checking.
1a) a plan showing the LFRS lines and the wind/seismic loads for each line per story.
1b) elevations showing the LFRS lines and the distribution of wind loads
1c) each floor plan showing seismic loads shedding into plan all they way to foundation

2******) Lateral Calcs with drawings for the system
2a) showing steel frames or shear walls and forces used and resultants
2b) diaphragm calcs
2b) details for attachments

3******) Gravity plans starting at roof then each floor down. showing all beams/girders and direction of infill beams
3a) label members in organized manner
3b) produce loading for infills and designs
3c) produce loading for beams and designs
3d) Columns
3e) beam/col attachments
3d) framing details

4*****) foundation design loads
4a) foundation elements for various line loads and point loads form columns
4b) piers
4c) base plates and ABs

5****) Special design items (very broad)

I feel like I am making things to general and sometimes too specific to be used in all applications. I was thinking of making multiple templates for different size jobs... but then it is no longer a template it is job specific and less useful. These will be guides not rules, but need to provide a standard organization for project design.

I am looking for input from you guys on a way to structure something like this. Any ideas, no matter how small are useful and will be appreciated.

Thank you!

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Seems to me that you are making things way too specific.

> Identify the requirements
> Explain how the requirement is to be met
> Show the basis of compliance through calculation that the requirement is met

THEN, provide examples for specific applications

Take a gander at how most people get compliant with ISO 9000/9001. Our documented procedures for most things are only a few paragraphs of text.

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Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Who requested you to develop this procedure?

Then, you state:

"The most senior guys will not follow it and that is ok."

No, that is actually not ok. It might not be your place, yet, necessarily, to force anyone to follow it, but it is certainly not ok for the Old Guard to blow it off.

Start with something that is perceived as not too onerous, and then use that procedure to develop an example that is appended to the procedure; a "template calculation", if you will. Of all of the things in your procedure draft as shown so far, the calculation cover page is the most powerful. While not structural in nature, I have used CAESAR for many years. When I print out the calculation output reports, I take great lengths to edit the cover page that the software's output report generator gives me, sometimes putting 2-3 additional pages of assumptions, notes, clarifications and result summaries into that effort. I wish everybody did that - it's incredibly annoying to be presented with a 700 page output file with a statement on Page 1 that says, "Results acceptable per attached output" on the occasions when I get that from other stress analysts.

What you are doing is, you are being asked to implement something that I believe every engineer on the planet ought to do, namely, document their calculations properly. I support every element of your effort, and commend whoever asked you to do it.

For the old guys who won't follow it...retirement cannot come soon enough.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

I appreciate your comments and suggestions so far. As for the old guys, as that seems to be touchy, They are self sufficient in our office. They have their own special clients and they typically do all calcs, drafting, review, and CA. When they utilize a junior engineer that junior will follow the guidelines. When they do get ready to retire, we have enough confidence in them that we are willing to risk that they will handle stuff off in a useful manner (ie, have someone else do all the work for the client to pass the torch)

I understand the aspect of too detailed. The main thing is we want to have details for organization. The first building i ever did as a 0-1 year was a disjointed mess and with more experience I was able to develop a systematic approach to design and documentation and organization.

I do think right now the summary page of loads and distribution is the best as it is detailed yet general for any building as opposed to an elevation of a masonry shear wall or its design.

As for the task-giver. This was given by the head of the Design Dept. He will be using the format.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

We focus on creating a summary page of loads and assumptions, applicable codes, etc. for the entire project.

The rest of the calculations are not outlined as you indicate since every project is so unique that the outline wouldn't really be followed anyway.

The key is, after the main front info page, the rest of the calculations should be performed in a clear, replicable way.
These would include:
1. Good descriptions of the problem
2. Sketches where necessary
3. Show development of the loads and where they come from
4. The analysis and design calculations themselves (in whatever good format is applicable).
5. Reference out to other calculations that result from these calcs or provide input for them.
6. Clear summary of the results (i.e. "USE W12 x 26 beam")

In other words - show your work so that another engineer can follow what you did and replicate the calculations.
That "other engineer" might be you in 5 years after you've totally forgotten what you did earlier.

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RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

JAE has more or less the format I try to follow and it is flexible enough to be applicable to almost all structural designs.

Maine Professional and Structural Engineer.
(Just passed the 16-hour SE exam, woohoo!)

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

I contributed to an effort at my prior firm to completely Gantt Chart out the entire process of civil site design, from preliminary concept to completion - when to pass information to and from the hydrologist, what survey info we needed at what stages of design, etc. It included enough detail to show how to set sheets up in CAD, what sort of calculations to use where, etc, for the entire Civil Site envelope, concept to permit to as-built. The completed process manual was like 80 pages. It was glorious. I learned a lot about my business by contributing to the effort of creating it.

Nobody used it.

Still glad I experienced putting it together though.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

"Nobody used it."

I note, that was your "prior" firm.

They were stupid. Good for you, because you just can't fix stupid.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

I am glad that it sounds like my calculations follows everybody elses. And i have had that problem of trying to understand old calculations from years prior... Not so much now after that mistake.

So it seems like the consensus so far is go ahead and try with the front page summary info and give outline suggestions for the remainder. I may try to add some further structure, in terms of organizing the calcs in a specific order... Lateral, then Roof, then Floors, Then foundation, Then .... I do not want a 80pg manual as i know it won't be used. I am thinking like one "Load Summary Sheet" and a "Table of Contents" sheet with broad bullet expectations.

It may make sense even to provide examples of what I/We want it took like for reference so we are all on the same page... I better just make sure i don't have any typos in those calcs :)


RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

What you suggest is actually a great self-learning tool.
For we structural engineers there is this awful thing called ACI 318, Ajppendix D, which (besides sucking) deals with capacities of cast-in and post installed anchors in concrete.

When it came out I decided to write a spreadsheet in Excel that would do all the calculations for single bolts and bolt groups.
Got pretty much done with it and it was OK.

Nobody today uses it (even me) but in doing the spreadsheet I learned the system quite well.

So it served one purpose (helping me learn about it) but didn't serve its other purpose (useful spreadsheet).

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RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

A couple of "housekeeping" suggestions:
*Number pages as you progress. Sometimes calculations look like a blur when you try to assemble them into a final package. I sometimes use unofficial numbers in the upper right hand corner if I'm not ready to put the whole thing together.
*In our company, project numbers are king. Put that on every page. There's any number of reasons that a page might get separated from its family and the project number always allows it to find a home.
*Same with name and date. It occasionally helps to know who did the calculation even if they're no longer with the firm. And everyone leaves the firm in one way or another. These are historical documents.
I try not to over kill the organization, except that the first two sheets always have Purpose, Assumptions and Procedures and References. For instance, materials are in the assumptions and procedures. These are defined different by JAE, but have similar functions. And always show a conclusion. Every story needs an ending.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Snorgy -

They were "too busy to learn."

I've seen that crop up in some form or another at every large firm I've worked at. I don't really think that problem is ever going to go away at large firms.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure



But, well, if they are always too busy to learn, they will never be smart enough to teach.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

What software do you guys use for documenting calculations? Word? MathCAD?

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Would you laugh if i said pen & paper? We typically perform most of our analysis by hand with the aid of design software and excel. But all summary and results are on paper. We may make some title page summary on word but have us just fill in blanks by hand.

When we run a structure in RISA, I typically have an 'organized' list of all assumptions i have made, the loading, the model design parameters, and special notes. Then i have a list of models i print and specific reports that differ between engineers. These sort of reports I will make standard parameters for what needs to be printed and detailed in the report, a list of unity equations for a large building are really more than useless.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

Paper calcs? I haven't seen those since the 90's! You get quite a bit of automation by just using Word because you can cut and paste all of your boilerplate stuff like codes and material properties.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

We don't have that many boiler plate things honestly. At least not when it comes to design. the major things like properties and so forth we have standards. These standards are stated in reports or on plans but our calcs usually just refer to them... ie F'c = 4000psi, or Fb=875psi. I think it would take almost as long to copy and paste as it does to write it down. And again, a good majority of calcs are done with programs which have built-in properties.

As for codes, i don't write that down unless special per the date. It is recorded on plans or reports. Only on the loads page in terms of live load per areas and dead loads...

What do you copy and paste? Like what codes you use, IBC 2012? or more like a multitude of loading items (think like a rail design per OSHA/IBC)? I am curious as this could possibly help in creating standards.


RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure


I thought everyone used Excel for all calculations that weren't performed by CAE software. Why would I want to reinvent the wheel every job?

Paper really? That's wild.


Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

I suppose I worded that incorrectly or at least not clearly, My fault. We use design software and excel for majority of the calculations.

So lets say when designing a floor system... The paper is for organization of all the inputs and parameters.
PAPER: I have paper stating Joist-1 has span of 21'-5", load of 60 psf live and 15 psf dead for office use.
CALC: Then provide the design output/excel.
PAPER: What final design is and reactions...
PAPER: Then beam-1 has loads from 10' wall and Joists-1 (XXX plf).
CALC: then provide the design output.
Paper: What the final design is and reactions...
So not really calcs on paper, but the outline, conditions, and result summary are on paper.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

I am doing the same thing and trying to figure out the best way to organize my calcs from the electronic folder on the network to what the signed calculation package looks like. I think that it is great to do this because it keeps you as well as your reviewer more organized. I started a job where the previous engineer had left while projects were just starting construction. It is very difficult to work through the construction phase when there is no organization.
Here are a couple of thoughts:
  • Title Sheet - Project name, description of what is enclosed, job numbers, dates, locations, etc. (I like to throw the client's logo in there because it looks neat)
  • Overall Table of Contents - I split my calculations into sections such as loading, foundation design, etc. The overall TOC identifies each section contained within the calculations
  • Section Table of Contents - I include the section title and what is included in the section. It's much easier to do page numbers within a section rather than overall.
When it comes to creating sections, this will most likely vary from project to project. However, I would typically start with a page identifying the codes/design specifications used. You may also want to reference geotechnical reports as they apply to the project.
Here are some ideas for sections:
  • Foundation Design
  • Building Envelope
  • Shear Wall Design
  • Main Building Structural Steel
  • Underhung Monorail Design
You can get the point.
I like these standards to be easily changed because there are always better ways of organizing yourself, so you are constantly raising the bar.
Diagrams and sketches are very good to include. I will print out the loading maps from ASCE/IBC and identify where the project site is. I've included snow drift plans as well.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

There are a lot of advantages to documenting calcs in Word rather than on paper. Basic word processing features like page numbering, 4.3.1 style headings, and auto generated table of contents really improve the legibility of the document and save time in the documentation process. If you have to make revisions its much easier. If you have a large calc set, having a search feature is useful. Its also better for filing - if you have to look up an old job, it will be on your server somewhere rather than buried in your physical archives. It gives you the ability to start your calc set from a previous similar job and just edit.

RE: Standard Engineering Design Procedure

You are slowly converting me Glass99. I may try that out and see how it works for a medium sized project. Using the built-in Word TOC and features may make it rather useful.


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