eToolKit to revolutionize South Africa’s steel construction industry

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Plans to revolutionize the steel construction industry are underway by the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction after launching the eToolKit for digital development.

The eToolKit, which operates on a Windows platform, enables structural engineers to design appropriate steel connections efficiently. It will also help standardize the structural steel connections due to the fact that it has Saisc’s Structural Steel Connections book also referred to as the Green Book, which was launched last year and aims to standardise structural steel connections. According to Saisc education director Spencer Erling, the use of the tool will help prevent too much strain when it comes to construction of steel structures.

Also available in the book is a list of steel manufacturers who provide resources for the connections that are available in the eToolKit. Examples of connections, discussions and commentaries with regard to the users’ design used from the Green Book can also be viewed and a summary of design saved or printed.

Primary developers of the eToolKit, Saisc engineer Amanuel Gebremeskel and University of the Witwatersrand School of Environmental Engineering structural engineering professor Alex Elvin, hope that the tool will further promote the standardisation of structural steel connections to allow for better efficiency in the design process.

“We had to bring together the Green Book and standards, and present them in a packaged manner. As an institution, we are in the business of standardisation, but we are branching out into innovation. As a result, the eToolKit is a new way of presenting standardised tables,” said Gebremeskel.
Users of the eToolKit are presented with a simple process to design structural steel connections by selecting the appropriate Saisc standard connection, the member sizes that need to be joined, bolt diameters, number of rows of bolts, as well as the plate thickness. By clicking the calculate button, the capacity of the connection is displayed.

“Also, by placing the cursor on the result box, users can see what the weak link in the connection is. This allows for the refinement of the connection design and it is really a jackpot feature of the programme,” Erling added.

Once the weak link is identified, users can enter the load figures from the analysis, and a design check is performed. A scale sketch of the connection, including the stiffeners, dimensions and weld-size specifications, can be viewed and transferred to the construction drawings.