Short Project Description

More slender structures, new architectural design paradigms, retrofitting of cultural heritage, life-cycle extension of civil engineering structures and an increased demand for safety in our society require broader application of advanced non-linear mechanical modelling and probabilistic safety concepts for structural design. Both demand advanced information management and the automation of the bulk of simulations for design variations and probabilistic evaluation and hence much more computer power. The partial safety factor approach, that is commonly used today, cannot be applied in combination with structural non-linear analysis and has to be replaced by the full probabilistic approach. In addition, for non-linear structural analysis the linear superposition principle is not valid, which means that for multitudes of load combinations separate non-linear analyses must be carried out. With tools currently available this exceeds the labour resources and the computer power of SMEs. Therefore new methods, preferable integrated on BIM, are needed.

Structural engineers have not the tools for this advanced methods, because it is not only a computational engineering but an information management and computer science problem, namely to generate by variation, compute and evaluate thousands of structural models needed for the various load cases, the stochastic variations of load and structural model. Software companies are not prepared to deliver such computer science tools. Therefore SE-Lab is going to develop an integrated information and computation environment, which is fully BIM-integrated with the architectural CAD design systems. It allows to carry out the huge amount of structural analysis without remarkable additional efforts and in addition offers the possibility to inspect any individual analysis run in 3D on demand, to study crack and failure mode propagation and hence to obtain an in-depth understanding of the structural behaviour in order to find the optimal structural design.

SE-Lab is an information management platform on SOA, i.e. web-services basis providing:

  1. seamless public cloud and private grid access
  2. an integrated computation feedback cycle for mass computing of structural system and load case variations with algorithm-based variations of system and load parameters
  3. an algorithm-based evaluation of the computation results deducing stochastics and identification of critical failure modes and weak components of the structural system
  4. a BIM integrated feedback cycle for design changes integrating architectural CAD design with computational engineering analysis and design
  5. an information management system to manage the mass of simulation models and results
  6. a multi-media graphical information navigator for the navigation in the mass of models

The SE-Lab information management, integration, and algorithm-controlled variations will be developed on the BIM approach. BIM will be extended to psBIM to capture non-linear and probabilistic structural (e.g. material laws, FE net refinement) features and the interoperability will be supported by ontology methods to achieve a seamless integration of 3D CAD with sophisticated non-linear and probabilistic structural analysis tools. Algorithms will be developed to (semi-)automatically generate the start scenario models from a few input data and for the automatic layout of reinforcement and propagation of changes done in the BIM-CAD to the structural model.

The SE-Lab will be delivered with software and pre-prepared contracts for public cloud access. For cost and privacy reasons SE-Lab will also develop a private grid by taking the technologies from computer sciences and transferring them and scaling them down to the particular needs of the structural design engineers.

SE-Lab will be applicable to all engineering structures, like steel, re-enforcement, composite, geotechnical and glass structures and components as well. SE-Lab is an information management platform on web-service basis and hence all computational and graphical tools are plugged in via a web-service wrapper. No tool is preferred, each is exchangeable and there is none to which SE-Lab is limited. The stochastic developments will be based on the newly proposed international probabilistic safety standard the fib model code 2010 in order to gain maximum international acceptance. The various special national guidelines can later be added on demand due to the flexible SOA structure.

Pushover analysis of the building unit

Analysis of the arch bridge

The main product of SE-LAB project  is a web-based virtual lab for structural engineering analysis, virtual testing of any complex structure and other investigations. At the same time it can be used as a web-based collaboration platform for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration between client, architect, structural engineer and computational expert, opening several new business models. All the components are developed as web-service and on BIM information standard IFC. Therefore these components (1) are exchangeable, (2) can be used in other BIM environments and (3) the platform can be also used with a sub-set of web-services according to the user’s preference. The virtual lab integrates 3D modelling, BIM, information management, non-linear structural analysis, probabilistic analysis, public cloud and private grid access, simulation model generation and variation, simulation model management, simulation results evaluation and ranking, non-linear behaviour, failure mode and crack propagation inspection and graphical navigation.