Structural Engineer’s Timber Design Software Review and Recommendations

While structural analysis software is used regularly for timber used in domestic residential applications, there has been a lack of knowledge on suitable software for non-residential or commercial building applications.

The widely used structural analysis software available to engineers is dominated by concrete and steel information and for the timber industry to compete suitable software has to be readily available that includes timber information.

A 2010 survey of 30 structural engineering firms across Australia found that a wide range of timber engineering and design software programs being available, and the number has increased since the survey was conducted, but they have not been taken up by general structural engineers. In general this is because the software is not known amongst structural engineers.

The review recommends that FWPA help to publicise and promote existing timber specific structural design and analysis software to structural engineers through FWPA’s Wood Solutions program. It also recommends that after a period of time, structural engineers should be surveyed on their software preferences to measure any change in usage. If the survey shows structural engineers are not using the existing available software program, FWPA could consider developing a generic timber Standards/Code checking compliance with AS1720 software module that could be incorporated into the most common structural analysis software.

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