Optimisation in structural engineering: enhancing efficiency and performance

Author: Ashley Kacha

Date published

1 September 2023

Price

Free

Back to Previous

Optimisation in structural engineering: enhancing efficiency and performance

Tag
Author
Date published
Price
Blog
Author

Ashley Kacha

Date published

1 September 2023

Author

Ashley Kacha

Price

Free

Ashley Kacha, Senior Engineer at the Institution, explores the diverse applications of optimisation techniques in structural engineering for smarter designs and better outcomes.

In the realm of structural engineering, optimisation is a key tool that unlocks the potential to create designs that are both efficient and cost-effective.

It involves the systematic exploration of various design possibilities to find the best solution that meets specific criteria. From maximizing strength to minimizing material usage, optimisation techniques play a pivotal role in achieving optimal structural performance.

In this blog post, we'll delve into some of different types of optimisation available to structural engineers, highlighting their uses through real-world examples.

  • Topology Optimisation - This type of optimisation focuses on determining the optimal layout of material within a given design space to achieve desired structural performance. By removing excess material, engineers can design lightweight yet strong structures. Topology optimisation has traditionally been especially useful in industries like aerospace, where weight reduction directly impacts fuel efficiency and overall performance.

  • Shape Optimisation - Shape optimisation involves altering the geometry of a structure to improve its performance. This can include adjusting dimensions, curves, and angles to optimize load distribution and stress concentrations. One notable application of shape optimisation is in bridge design, where section geometry can be optimised for any number of constraints in the properties of the section, but also constraints on fabrication or transport.

  • Size Optimisation - Size optimisation revolves around determining the ideal dimensions of individual structural components to meet specific criteria, such as minimizing deflection or maximizing load-bearing capacity. In civil engineering, size optimisation is already often employed in the design of steel sections or prefabricated concrete sections for buildings, purely through the selection of appropriate catalogue sections. By optimizing the size of columns, engineers can ensure structural efficiency while reducing material costs.

It's not just about the product

Optimisation techniques aren’t all about technical constraints. In fact, these techniques can offer a powerful means to save firms valuable time, resources, and money. By employing these techniques, businesses can streamline their design processes and enhance overall efficiency.

A well implemented optimisation process helps engineers quickly identify the most efficient structural configurations, reducing the need for time-consuming trial and error. This accelerates the design phase, enabling firms to meet project deadlines more effectively.

These techniques can also reduce many of the tedious tasks associated with the design process, allowing engineers to focus on more creative aspects of their role.

Conclusion

Optimisation techniques empower design consultants to navigate the complexities of structural engineering with precision and effectiveness. By swiftly identifying optimal designs, conserving resources, and curbing unnecessary expenditures, these techniques enable consultants to deliver high-quality solutions while saving their clients and their own business valuable time, resources, and money throughout the design process.

Find out more about what digital optimisation can achieve for your business

<h4>Managing digital workflows for optimisation</h4>

Managing digital workflows for optimisation

This webinar focuses on the opportunities for business benefits, improved quality and increased performance generated by implementing efficient digital workflows in your practice.

Read more
<h4>Achieving material and economic efficiency through digital optimisation</h4>

Achieving material and economic efficiency through digital optimisation

This webinar on digital optimisation showcases strategies to optimise designs and explores how to apply available techniques to achieve material and cost savings.

Read more

Related Resources & Events

Course
<h4>Chartered Member/Incorporated Member examination preparation course 2024</h4>

Chartered Member/Incorporated Member examination preparation course 2024

Professional examination preparation course for the Chartered and Incorporated Member exams.

Date – 14 June 2024
Location – Suffolk New College
Price – £100
Webinar
<h4>Demystifying structural strengthening with CFRP: applications, advantages and insights</h4>

Demystifying structural strengthening with CFRP: applications, advantages and insights

This breakfast webinar, sponsored by Sika, aims to demystify structural strengthening with CFRP and demonstrate what these remarkable and versatile materials can offer to your refurbishment projects.

Date – 19 June 2024
Location – Online
Price – Free
Webinar
<h4>Rapid parametric design assessment for vibration-sensitive floors (sponsored content)</h4>

Rapid parametric design assessment for vibration-sensitive floors (sponsored content)

The afternoon webinar, sponsored by Oasys, demonstrates how to enhance the precision and efficiency of early design explorations for vibration-sensitive floors using Oasys GSA's traditional 3D modelling and Grasshopper-based tools.

Date – 23 May 2024
Location – Online