The Importance of Structural Reliability Analysis in an Engineering Design


The Importance of Structural Reliability Analysis in an Engineering Design

April 10, 2019

Professionally speaking, consulting engineers have access to a massive repertoire of resources. Those resources scale downwards to oversee smaller assignments. They also upscale to manage larger projects. In those infrastructure-sized jobs, an advanced set of design standards are accessed. Now, before the contractors can get to work on the bigger work, there are simulations and reliability analysis studies to be run. In a nutshell, there's the engineering design preamble to address.

Reliability Analysis Studies Are Essential

Contractors and technicians have their tools, their hammers and multimeters, screwdrivers and power drills. Hopping up a level, workers gain excavators and cranes. Engineering design work uses tools as well. There are data collecting sensors and cameras to mount, plus other structure-assessing resources. Actually, the techniques applied here go further back. They go all the way back to the drawing board, where a reliability-based analysis technique models a series of probability-based points of view. A great deal of engineering mathematics and esoteric design fields come to the fore at this point, but the goal is always the same: the safe erection and reliable construction of one or more structures that will stand the test of time.

Sidestepping the Engineering Intricacies

It's hard to avoid the math it's an integral part of this field of engineering design. Basically, probabilistic elements are utilized when assessing the structural conditions of an existing building. Those same stochastically fashioned tools can be used to study a structure's design as it sits on a drawing board or to assess its condition as it falls into disrepair. The data applied here comes from loading charts, from wind speed calculations, from subterranean vibrations, water table heights, seasonal factors, and a slew of site effectors, all of which slot into conditional modelling simulations. And, should the conditions alter in some meaningful way, the numbers-crunching computer modelling software can adapt to compensate for those changes.

At the end of the day, that's what structural reliability analysis is all about. It's another tool in an already comprehensive box full of engineering resources. Looking at the soil a structure stands on, just as an example of the depth of detail used here, the spring in the ground is studied and added to the mathematical models. Soil type, its consistency and frangibility, are plugged into the formulas, too. Remember, engineering design principles can't actually look into the future, but structural reliability analysis work is the next best option. Think about it, the dependability extrapolating systems and processes applied here really are an engineering team's version of a crystal ball, one that will faithfully calculate the structural lifespan of any an all project assets.

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