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What is structural analysis?

Structural analysis has to do with the design of structures. Its aim is the proper, safe execution of a project. It involves making calculations to measure the effects loads have, as well as internal forces (the structure’s own weight) and external forces (such as rain or seismic movements) that may affect the building. All this information is provided in one document.

The document is prepared by a civil engineer, an architect, or both. Their work also involves developing and registering the project report and the plans for the structure.

Structural analysis is indispensable for any type of work. Developing a structural analysis system ensures a structure’s safety thanks to the fact that it shows how much load it can withstand. The study must be carried out, regardless of whether it is an improvement or a new building, or whether it applies to residential, industrial, or public infrastructure works.

What should structural analysis include?

  • Considering the rigidity of the structure.
  • Complying with the regulations of the area where the project is to be built, as well as the regulations that may apply to the use of certain materials.
  • Containing numerical calculations and graphs to design and subsequently execute the work.
  • Bringing together the essential requirements to carry out the project.
  • Accompanying detailed plans of the work, as well as information and instructions for use and maintenance, including both materials and equipment and systems.
  • Including the in-depth analysis of applied calculus, considering multiple factors: characteristics of the land, expected use period of the infrastructure, possible modifications to the construction bases, incidents due to external factors such as rain or earthquakes, the calculation of resistances, and others.

What elements are taken into account when doing a structural analysis?

In general, structural analysis should include a summary of:

  1. Analysis report:
    • Horizontal forces.
    • Vertical loads and overloads.
    • Permissible stress.
    • Indications of the conditions for the separating wall and predictions.
  2. Plans of the structures:
    • General sections.
    • Construction details.
    • Foundation floors, organization of floor groups, and specificities of each floor.
    • Technical specifications.
    • Details of expansion joints.

What calculations are performed in structural analysis?

Within the design and construction project for a civil engineering site, the following calculations are done to ensure the stability of the structure, as well as its safety in use:

  • Stress calculations – that is, those arising from the reaction that occurs in a structure when a load of the same magnitude is applied to it and exerted in the opposite direction.
  • Calculating bending moments – that is, the force that causes a part of the structure to bend when a force is applied to it at a certain distance, causing a deformation.
  • Load and wind pressure calculations.
  • Calculating shear stress – that is, when a force is applied in a parallel or tangential way to the surface area, causing torsion in part of the structure.
  • Calculating seismic movements.

What digital tools are used to perform structural calculations?

The analysis of all a structure’s constituent elements can be carried out in a fast, optimal, advanced way through different specialized software programs. This computer software makes it possible to make virtual replicas of a structure to facilitate progress in construction.

Some of the best-known ones are:

  • Sap200– with its 3D graphical interface, it can dimension bridges, buildings, dams, and other structures.
  • Cypecad: a BIM application used for modeling structures; it designs, calculates, and dimensions structures, both metal and those made with other materials, such as concrete.
  • Midas: software specializing in calculating and designing civil structures and mechanical engineering.
  • Autodesk Robot– used to calculate steel joints, wooden structures, or reinforced sections.

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