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KNOWLEDGE EDGE | Loadbearing Masonry Software

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KNOWLEDGE EDGE | Loadbearing Masonry Software

Monday, December 19 2011 17:51 Jay Desai, PE, SE, SECB, CBIE, Marc Steinhobel, PE, SECB

Putting It to the Test

Leap Forward in Technology
RAM Advanse Masonry Module is a leap forward in technology. It gives engineers the ability to model the entire building taking into account the effects of both global and local forces on each wall segment. It saves the engineer time from having to generate separate analytical models that only determine member forces and separate design calculations using results from the analytical model or other hand calculations. As with RAM Structural System, RAM Advanse Masonry Module reduces the time spent by engineers crunching numbers. It allows engineers the flexibility to model, analyze and evaluate various options quickly and effectively. Alternative framing options, wall locations, shear wall layout, pier size and requirements are quickly and accurately analyzed and their effect on the entire structure considered. Does the masonry module reduce the time required to design a multi-level loadbearing masonry building? Yes. How much? We estimate the time savings in the range of 40% to 50% for analysis and design. More importantly, it provides a tool engineers can use to optimize their design, resulting in a better, more economical design thereby reducing construction costs, allowing masonry to compete on a level playing field against other structural loadbearing wall systems.

Putting It To the Test

The new 77,500 sf residence hall at Michigan Technological University is in the design phase. Located in Houghton, Michigan Tech was established in 1885 as a mining college with only 23 students. Now, the school has expanded with more than 400 faculty and more than 6500 students. The community of Houghton has expanded along with the Universitys needs and the need for new student housing. The new student housing building is a six-story concrete masonry loadbearing structure with precast plank floors. The building has repetitive punch-out windows between larger bay windows along the exterior. Along the interior, corridor walls are loadbearing CMU, designed to resist both gravity and lateral loads. Several partition walls, perpendicular to the corridor walls, are used as shear walls to resist lateral wind and seismic forces. Special consideration was taken for snow loading due to the Universitys location in Michigans Upper Peninsula where ground snow loads are 100 psf.

The RAM System

Desai/Nasr Consulting Engineers used Bentleys RAM Structural System V8i (release 13.03) and RAM Advanse V8i (release 9.6) published in December 2008 to model and analyze the loadbearing masonry structure. RAM Advanse V8.0 was released in June 2006 and introduced its first masonry design capabilities. V9.5, released in August 2008 introduced hybrid masonry design capabilities. Editors Note: RAM Elements V8i (release 10) was published in July 2009 and introduces the products name change, as well as enhancements to the masonry capabilities. RAM Structural System V8i Modeling Module was used to quickly and effectively build the structural frame including all structural members. Wall openings were modeled to include the effect these openings had on the global stiffness of the structure.

Figure 1 RAM Structural System Model

Gravity surface, line and point loads as well as seismic masses were input into the RAM Modeler Module. RAM Frame Module was used to input the parameters for the lateral wind and seismic loads for the main lateral load resisting system. Frame generated the required lateral loads as point loads imposed on the rigid floor diaphragms. Since RAM Structural System does not have the capability to design masonry walls, in order to complete the design, the model was exported to RAM Advanse for further analysis. Loads input in RAM Structural System are converted to nodal point loads on shell elements and point and line loads on beam elements when imported into RAM Advanse. After the full gravity and lateral model was imported, some adjustments were required to change the material properties and member sizes to conform to the different naming convention used by RAM Advanse. Gravity column end releases were adjusted and corrected to conform to the pure finite element structure of the masonry module.

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KNOWLEDGE EDGE | Loadbearing Masonry Software

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Finite Element Analysis

RAM Advanse is a full blown finite element analysis program that completes full iterative convergence of the model during the P-Delta analysis. Careful model consideration was given to limit the size of the stiffness matrix and number of load cases considered to reduce analysis time. Finite element analysis programs generally provide results that are a good representation of the forces, stresses and displacements based on the input parameters. A good understanding of finite element analysis, program assumptions and limitations is essential to ensure good results. For example, in this masonry module, nodes between wall Figure 2 Imported Model in panels (located at end of wall panels modeled in RAM Modeler) are considered attached to RAM Advanse each panel, effectively making the panels continuous across joints. If interior nonloadbearing walls are rigidly attached to the loadbearing exterior walls, then the results generated may not reflect the design engineers intent and assumptions when it comes to the foundations. To effectively isolate walls at these locations, or at any control joints desired, the walls are stopped short at intersection points and dummy beam members are added to provide continuous support for floor elements. After adjusting the model to comply with RAM Advanse parameter requirements, a full P-Delta analysis produced good results which were used to check the main lateral force resisting shear walls for in-plane loading and story drift. Vertical compression and in-plane shear were easily reviewed and checked for each shear wall using the masonry module. The model imported from RAM Structural System was not suitable to carry out detailed design of individual wall panels. Effects of load eccentricity were not included due to precast panel bearing on half the wall and out-of-plane loading due to component wind loading. RAM Frame cannot generate pressures on walls, however, these out-of-plane loads are easily added in the masonry module. To analyze exterior walls, a section of wall was isolated. Dead and live load moments were added to include the out-of-plane effects of load Figure 4 Exaggerated Drift eccentricity on the wall. It is important to understand that RAM Advanse imports loads from RAM Structural System as point loads on the nodes at the corners of the wall panels. The size of wall panels and location of wall joints in RAM Structural System directly impact the loading of the shell elements and accuracy of the results. Results were improved by limiting openings to one per panel, by splitting the walls Figure 5 Panel Selection for Design between window openings and maintaining a vertical to horizontal aspect ratio of not more than 1:1.5. Limiting the aspect ratio ensured that the concentrated nodal loads at the ends of the panels were evenly distributed and piers between window openings carried the correct gravity loads. The effect of out-of-plane wind loads on the exterior walls was included by adding localized wind pressure on the face of the wall shell elements. The refined model was analyzed in the general finite element module of RAM Advanse before the selected wall panel was imported into the masonry module. The masonry module imports the analyzed forces, stresses and strains from the general module. Any change to the loads or load Figure 6 Adding the Effects of Out-of combinations in the module deletes all analysis -Plane Wind Loads results. The analysis is then re-run in the general module. Wall reinforcing and other parameters are set in the masonry module. Parameters such as CMU material properties have to be set
Figure 3 Dummy Beam Members

Figure 7 Maintaining an Aspect Ratio 1:1.5

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in the general module. The masonry module cannot be analyzed if there is not at least one service and one design load combination set up. After analyzing various configurations of the wall panel with different wall joint locations in RAM Structural System, the analysis results were comparable to our hand calculations. Multiple load cases, with in-plane and out-of-plane forces, were quickly analyzed and designed. Good graphical display options allow the engineer to review the forces and displacements calculated at sections through the wall panel. The detailing module did a good job of detailing the reinforcing steel in the wall and around the openings. The lintel design module could not design the lintels as tension stresses were generated in the top of the shell above the windows due to the arching effect and distribution of forces around the window openings. The lintel design module is programmed to provide tension reinforcing at the bottom of the lintel beam and not at the top of the beam, thereby generating a No Good design message in the output. Editors Note: RAM Elements V8i Release 10.0 corrects the lintel issue, along with several other updates. IMI has also placed on its website information to assist designers with how to handle the negative moment at the lintel. Similarly, using large panels, the narrow piers between the windows were under designed as the point loads applied to the corners of the panels and the effects of arching reduced the amount of axial load in the pier. Carefully locating the wall joints to transfer the loads correctly into the wall and limiting wall panel sizes eliminated the lintel design issues and properly accounted for axial load in the piers. When large wall panels were modeled with multiple window openings, the program did not correctly design the lintels over the openings or the piers between the openings.

Figure 8 RAM Advanse Masonry Module

The detailed analysis printout gave capacity curves for each design segment for in-plane and out-of-plane forces. The output, however, does not give a detailed breakdown of the individual calculations, making it difficult to cross check program results with hand calculations.

Comparative Results
At Desai/Nasr, it has always been our practice to use new software products on smaller projects. This is done mainly to compare results of hand calculations versus those obtained with the use of the software. This practice allows the engineers to become familiar with the program and develop a higher level of comfort with the use of a particular software product. Since the release of RAM Advanse Masonry Module, Desai/Nasr has used it to analyze and design small-scale one - and two-story buildings and individual wall panels with openings. The Michigan Tech student housing project was the first large multi-level loadbearing masonry building Desai/Nasr analyzed and designed using this masonry module. After thorough understanding of how RAM Advanse imports the RAM Structural System models and loads the masonry shell Figure 9 Analysis elements with few modifications to the model, a workable result Results was achieved. The RAM Structural System modeler quickly and effectively generates a full building model with the required Figure 10 Detailing Module gravity and lateral loads with minimal input. Careful consideration is recommended when setting up wall joint locations to ensure that loads are correctly transferred into the wall shell elements. Dummy members are an effective way of isolating the wall continuity at wall intersections and control joints, improving analytical results. Analysis time can be reduced by limiting load combinations and carrying out detailed analyses on typical wall panels only. Before the release of RAM Advanse Masonry Module, masonry design software focused on component design with independent tools to design separate components such as shear walls, lintels, bearing walls, piers and columns. The independent tools often are constrained to specific geometric and load parameters. Engineers will surely find time-saving benefits from the introduction of this masonry module to the suite of structural software available.

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Editors Note: Steel-framed and concrete-framed buildings have been designed for years using whole building design software. This is not the case for masonry buildings. Most have been designed using hand calculations, spreadsheets written by individual engineers or commercial packages that design elements or components. The suite of Bentley software makes whole building design a reality for loadbearing and hybrid masonry. Engineers who design even modest-sized loadbearing buildings recognize that hand calculations can be tedious and repetitious. For a simple four-story building, it is not uncommon for an engineer to spend six to eight weeks developing design calculations. To put the effect of using this software into perspective, that time can be reduced to approximately half. In addition, it is possible to evaluate alternate designs or modifications to a design without starting over.
Figure 11 Interaction Diagrams

RESIDENCE HALL | MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY | HOUGHTON Architect Neumann/Smith Architecture Southfield Engineer Desai/Nasr Consulting Engineers West Bloomfield General Contractor Gundlach Champion Houghton Budget $14.2 million Expected date of completion July 2010

Last Updated on Tuesday, December 20 2011 12:36

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