The Productivity toolbox provides a number of powerful tools to enhance user's productivity. They concern all aspects of structural design - geometry and load definition, analysis, capacity checks and reporting.
|Table Input of project data (for members, boundary conditions and loads)|
|Table Results for viewing results in tabular form|
|Standardised modelling tools - ribbed slab definition and analysis of prefabricated elements|
|Modelling tools: Adaptive Mesh, Singularity Check|
|Advanced 2D/3D grids for simplified modelling|
|Climatic loads definition based on wind and snow pressure curves|
|Plane sections (for modelling, comprehensive output, and General Arrangement drawings)|
|3D dimension lines|
|External MS Excel checks|
|Intelligent picture galleries|
|Engineering Report templates, display of Design Forms data|
|Export to PDF for images and reports|
|Export to MS Word, PDF, HTML from the Engineering Report|
|Import/export from XML|
|Attributes with additional data|
Esa.06 enables the definition of project templates from existing project files (ESA files). Project templates contain preferred material data, cross-sections, standard load cases, combinations and Engineering Report layouts. Using templates, one saves an entire project and work environment into templates (materials, frequently used profiles, structural norms, load cases/combinations, calculation reports, etc.).
- Any SCIA Engineer input data can be configured in a project template;
- The user does not need to create calculation reports from scratch for each new project;
- Analysis of routine structures is made more efficient - in combination with module esa.11 (Parametric Modelling), powerful project templates can be created and they require minimal user input in order to execute the design;
- Companies establish standardized project templates and distribute these among their employees.
A bi-directional link between model and input tables allows for:
- The properties of all existing entities in a model to be listed in table format;
- Entities to be updated according to changes users make in input tables.
The Table Input functionality allows for the dynamic input and editing of project data. This light tool allows for tabulated model definition to be split from reporting, which results in better performance and immediate visualisation of changes that are introduced in the tables.
- The Table Input window is displayed simultaneously with the 3D model, and may be docked anywhere on the working space;
- New members, loads and supports can be defined directly in Table Input;
- Changes typed in the input tables lead to immediate regeneration of the model;
- Model data generated in any other way are also displayed in the Table Input window; this allows for editing of existing elements, boundary conditions and loads;
- Batch changes can be done in MS Excel or other spreadsheet applications (copy-pasting is enabled);
Table Results is used for listing calculated results in tabular form. Table Results displays a wide range of calculated items, including FEM results for nodes, 1D and 2D members, the outcome of design checks, and others. As soon as a calculation is performed and results are available, the Table Result list is filled in with the values of internal forces, displacements, calculated areas of reinforcement and others.
A floating, dock-able panel, Table Results is called in the same way as the Preview Window of SCIA Engineer, i.e. via the Toolbars menu. Besides the result value and name of member in which the value occurs, additional information and settings are displayed - relevant load case or combination, position of critical cross-section, outcome of design checks (e.g. OK/NOT OK), etc.
The advantages of Table Results include:
- A link to the OS clipboard;
- Sorting of results depending on a wide range of criteria (e.g. ascending/descending/alphabetical order in columns);
- Filter fields in each column allow to display only the result items that meet a certain set of criteria;
- Full control on the display of properties and visibility of columns for each result type;
- The edited layout of tables can be saved and later loaded on the same PC or layouts may be shared between PCs;
The active result type, currently displayed in the Table Results window is fully decoupled from the 3D Graphical Window. In this way, the user may review one type of result in the tables, and another type in the Graphical Window.
Standardised modelling tools
- This function allows the user to quickly input a plate with several stiffening ribs.
- The resulting entity behaves in the same way, as in the case when the plate, ribs, and interconnection between these are defined separately, using alternative menus in SCIA Engineer.
Prefab slabs - 2D to 1D upgrade
2D-1D Upgrade is a special export functionality for prefabricated slabs.
- It allows the user to select one or several beams from a ribbed slab and export these to a separate project into which load cases, combinations, and calculated internal forces from the original model will be transferred;
- The detailed check per beam (or panel) is performed in this separate project;
- The user controls the export through a set of parameters - effective width of the slab, coordinate system settings, options for loads and load combinations;
- The functionality is useful for the analysis of plates made of hollow core slabs or other prefabricated elements;
- The analysis of the whole structure in the original project (ESA file) is performed with a “substitute” plate, whose properties are equivalent to the ones of the beam/panel system.
A fine mesh of finite elements produces more accurate result than a coarse mesh. Finding the optimal mesh size manually and selecting all needed parameters (e.g. the ratio element sides, the ratio of adjacent elements for mesh refinement) is sometimes a hard task.
Therefore, SCIA offers a method for automatic mesh refinement that has been developed in collaboration with the Czech Technical University in Prague. The solution reflects the state-of-the art in a-posteriori error estimation methods. The method allows to also evaluate and display the quality of results, derived from the geometry of 2D mesh elements.
Singularity check allows the user to control whether the model is unstable and/or is missing some translations or rotations. Members that are not connected are also detected, as well as problems with cross-links. Singularity check is performed after an unsuccessful calculation. The user can interactively inspect the resulting movement of the structure or its parts; movement is animated in the 3D window.
Advanced 2D/3D grids
Advanced grids and storeys facilitate modelling of complex structures, as well as creation of enhanced-quality drawings and calculation reports. Points, lines and shapes can quickly be defined in a 2D or 3D environment, thanks to the extensive grid functionalities:
- 3D grids are defined by distance and angle increments; Cartesian, oblique, cylindrical and spherical grids can be created.
- Free lines are manually created grid-entities - SCIA Engineer recognises such straight or curved lines and adds them to the grid in the workplane. Free lines are useful when the model geometry is more elaborated and the structure or loads are hard to define via Cartesian or polar grids. Coordinates, existing nodes or gridline intersections can be used to set up the free lines.
- Rectangular 2D grids are specified through X and Y increments and other properties (repetitions, origin, labels, symmetry indicator, etc.);
- Circular 2D grids are specified by X and angle increments and other properties;
- 2D grids can be composed of multiple grids of any type;
- In order to quickly create a complex random grid, rectangular or circular grids can be exploded into free lines, and then modified using the CAD functions of SCIA Engineer;
- Line grids are standard objects and modified using the corresponding property dialogues when selected.
For free lines in 3D grids, see the paragraph "Storeys".
- Wind and snow loads are generated on the structure based on user-defined wind and snow pressure curves.
- Other predefined loads, such as gravity loads pre square meter, may also be defined.
A storey assembles together entities located at the same elevation in a model.
- Storeys are indicated in the 3D window of SCIA Engineer by means of inbuilt dimension lines;
- A 2D grid is projected easily onto every story, allowing for the definition of custom, free-line 3D grids;
- Storeys allow for analysis being made per floor level, which is often required for seismic and stability analysis;
- Seismic-related summary and detailed results are printed per storey.
Design Groups is a concept that allows the engineer to easily manage design and checks of members that share certain properties, such as member type, length or cross-section. This concept simplifies the design process as it shifts the focus from a single member to a whole group of similar members. The design of all members in one design group is performed in one step for the envelope of result values obtained from all members in the group.
Plane Sections create 2D views through a 3D model. 2D plane views are created using clipping boxes, whose boundaries the user can adjust to limit the display to currently relevant portions of the structure only.
- The user defines vertical, horizontal and skew (general) plane sections;
- Viewing is always perpendicular to the section plane and each plane section has a fixed workplane;
- Using the section views, a 3D model is easily edited in a 2D environment;
- Modelling errors can be corrected, in cases when 3D views are misleading;
- All editing functions accessible from the 3D window are also available in 2D views;
- Plane sections are defined when automated General Arrangement drawings need to be created.
3D Dimension lines
Dimension lines are defined in both 2D and 3D views in SCIA Engineer.
- Supported dimension types include - offset dimensions, also aligned, radial, diametrical, angular, etc.;
- Dimensions are managed via the Dimension Styles Editor and via the properties per dimension line;
- Dimension styles are flexible and allow for easy changes in the overall layout of drawings and preview; settings are available for labels, label positions, line types, end marks, etc.;
- Layers for dimensions are supported;
- Snaps to 2D/3D grids and objects simplify the definition of dimension lines.
External MS Excel checks
Users sometimes need to perform custom checks on available analysis data. User-defined checks in spreadsheets can be integrated and used within SCIA Engineer.
- The External Application Checks functionality allows the user to define his/her own calculation algorithm by linking one or more Excel files;
- The link is bi-directional - data from SCIA Engineer (internal forces, member data, loads, dimensions, etc.) are sent to Excel and results are read back;
- Results are displayed in a similar way as for internally calculated results - as diagrams along beams, numerically in the Preview window and in the Engineering Report and Document;
- Selected regions from the spreadsheet can be shown in the calculation report as static images.
Intelligent picture galleries
The Image and Paperspace galleries are advanced tools for the preparation of images. These allow for the production of sophisticated graphical documentation in reports and sneak previews.
- Images are created using the right-click contextual menu in the SCIA Engineer 3D window, and are stored in the Image Galery;
- The images remain dynamically linked to the model, which means these are automatically updated after changes are made in to the structure or loads. The user does not need to redefine images after making changes in the model;
- Previously defined automated text, dimensions, etc. are also adapted;
- The images retain information about how they were created and which part of the analysed structure they display. This makes it simple to change the images using the Properties Window - by adapting view-points, load cases or combinations, displayed entity, etc;
- If required, the pictures may further be edited in a built-in graphical editor where standard graphical functions are available, such as Draw Line, Add Dimension Line, Add Text, Move Object, Copy Object, etc.
- The images may be exported in the most common picture formats - BMP, WMP, VRML, U3D, EMF, EP3, DWG and DXF.
Design Forms in Engineering Report
Design Forms is a standalone scripting tool that complements SCIA Engineer by allowing users to write their own design checks using analysis results from SCIA Engineer. Short, dedicated calculations can be executed via Design Forms providing transparent output. The Engineering Report features an item in the “Special Items” group, which allows the user to insert the output report of a Design Forms directly into the Engineering Report.
Export of report documentation to PDF is supported.
- 3D Graphics are included in 3D PDFs, where these can be zoomed, panned and rotated from within Acrobat Reader and other free readers for *.pdf files;
- Images are saved to PDF directly from the Image Gallery.
Engineering Report templates
In the Engineering Report, predefined templates are provided with installation, while users can also create their own report templates. A full document (content + layout) or only a ‘snippet’ (block of Engineering Report items) may be composed and stored for use with new projects.A document can be composed of several templates, optionally accompanied by ad-hoc added user-defined content.
HTLM export from Engineering Report
The HTLM export in the Engineering Report of SCIA Engineer offers some additional features:
- (Export to Excel via HTML) Exported HTML files are opened and edited in Excel, where all tables are configured with headers and units, and all images are added as BMP/JPG/PNG or GIF files;
- (Export to Word via HTML) HTML files are opened and edited in MS word, where a similar layout to the one shown in the Engineering Report is used. Predefined settings for tables and images are provided, to reduce the need for further processing.
An attribute contains additional data about a modelled entity - extra properties (or tags, or descriptions) can be linked to any structural member (beam, column, slab, brace, etc.).
- An attribute contains strings, numbers, check-boxes and combo-boxes;
The user defines a list of valid data for each defined attribute (e.g. a list, a range of values, etc.).
- SCIA Engineer does not differentiate between hard-coded properties and user-added attributes when reporting, making images or drawings, or during exchange of data through standard interfaces such as XML;
- Numerical attributes are defined as "summable" properties, whose sum can be listed in the Bill of Material;
- Attributes can be used when performing external checks in Excel.
- Use of user-defined attributes minimises losses during the BIM process.