Diversifying Your Skillset

As a structural engineer, it is easy to become so focused on design and analysis that you neglect other valuable skills that can help you excel in your field. While knowledge of codes, standards, and structural theory is essential, it is equally important for engineers to have a diverse range of skills and well-rounded knowledge that can help them stand out in the workplace.

One such skill that can be extremely useful for a structural engineer is the ability to code. This is because quite often, we come across repetitive tasks that require some form of automation through coding. By having the ability to write code, engineers can streamline their workflow, reduce errors, and increase efficiency, allowing them to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their work. Coding also opens up opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects and to develop custom solutions to complex engineering problems. It broadens your perspective, and this can be particularly valuable in the field of structural engineering where new materials, construction methods, and design techniques are constantly emerging.

An example is having some knowledge of Python or VBA that allows you to automate a process and create useful tools that help in your structural calculations.

It is not just structural engineers who can benefit from diversifying their skills, we at KAEG are encouraging all working professionals, regardless of their discipline, to never be so straight-narrowed in their profession and should instead learn complementary skills and diversify. In today’s fast-paced, rapidly changing world, it is more important than ever to be versatile and flexible. Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn how we can bring our diverse skills to best serve your needs.

Deflection in Telecom Structure Analysis

Deflection in telecommunication structures refers to the deformation or displacement of a structure from its original position under load. Deflection is a serviceability limit, that is, it does not automatically constitute structural failure, thus there are often differing requirements on the acceptable levels of deflection. There are typically two categories of deflection limits considered in telecoms analyses: General structural deflection limit and Operator’s deflection limit.

The operator’s deflection limit is specified by the site operator in the telecoms industry. They specify levels above which the structure becomes unfit for use based on ancillary equipment operational guidelines and specifications.

The general structural deflection limit is specified by design codes e.g., Eurocode & BS code an offers guidance on the level of deflection that will not cause discomfort/alarm to the site users.

The operator’s deflection limit can be a little generous. We often find that a structure can be within it operator’s limit but has exceeded its general deflection limit, therefore a decision must be made. Designing a structure that is below the general structure deflection limit may incur additional costs which the site operator may be opposed to. It is responsibility of the engineer to ensure that all stakeholders participate in the decision making and to balance the interest of all parties.

At KA Engineering Group, we leverage our extensive engineering experience to accurately design any form of telecoms structure ranging from complex GDC to basic DD analysis. We take responsible steps to consider, advise, and optimise each site, ensuring cost-effective design, installation, and maintenance for build contractors and efficient utilisation for operators.

Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Conservatism but not over-designing

“Why do you consider the safety factor of 1.5 instead of 1.3, or why deliberately increase the pole size to CHS114.3 if CHS88.9 would work? – It is for conservatism.”

Sometimes we like to use of the word “conservative” to imply that we’re assigning values that we know to be too large (or too small, depending on the situation), when in reality we simply don’t have an accurate handle on the “real” value. The implication is that we might produce wasteful structural designs by using additional material which leads to unnecessary cost increase for clients. More interestingly, there seems to be more perception about that engineers are more conservative than they used to be. Or that structures are bigger than they once previously might have been. We often encounter a case that the analysis performed on the existing telecom structure that has been in service for over 10 years show failed result. So what is changed? Is it the materials? The factors of safety?

As engineers we try not to make any assumptions, but in reality there are many unknown inputs during design process. In this case, conservatism might have to be involved in the analysis. However, conservatism sometimes can be mitigated by in depth consideration of the design variables. For example, applying the wind loads based on the actual wind direction instead of applying the worst wind load for all directions. During the completion of thousands of telecom projects, KAEG never stops refining and improving our design process and methodology to enable our structural analysis as closer to reality as possible by utilizing our in-house database and programing capability. We are always aiming to provide our clients with not only economical but fast turnaround design solutions.

Foundation Design for Telecom Structures

Telecom structures impose various actions on foundations and these foundations are to be designed by a competent structural engineer to resist these actions. Loads from superstructures (lattice tower, monopoles etc.) are transferred to the supporting foundation and eventually to the underlying soil. There are two broad categories of foundations: shallow and deep foundation. Let’s focus on shallow foundations for now e.g. isolated pad, combined footing, strip and mat foundations. There are three critical checks: bearing check, sliding check and overturning checks.

Bearing Check: the bearing pressure under the base area of the foundation should not exceed the safe (or allowable) bearing pressure of the soil. A geotechnical survey is required to ascertain the soil bearing pressure and other soil parameters.

Sliding Checks: the shear reaction from the telecoms base reaction could cause the foundation to slide. The design sliding factor is checked against the allowable sliding factor of safety

Overturning Checks: the foundation needs to be checked for overturning. Moment reactions from telecom structures could cause the entire system to overturn. For stability of the foundation, we need to check the design overturning moment factor of safety against the allowable overturning moment factor of safety.

It is essential that an existing or a proposed foundation be designed by a competent structural engineer. KAEG are at the forefront of providing cost-effective foundation design solutions for telecom structures to ensure continuous safe operations. Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Design Safety Factors

The major responsibility of engineers in society is to design and implement systems that make it easy to navigate our immediate environment. Telecoms infrastructure makes communication easier in our built environment. However, suppose these telecom infrastructures are not properly designed. In that case, it could lead to a catastrophic event which could lead to loss of life and valuables, and post-recovery of the environment is almost impossible.

Materials used in telecom systems design are often subjected to uncertainties affecting their performance and deviating from their ideal state. These uncertainties are related to their material properties, geometry, environmental conditions etc. Hence, applying design safety factors to simulate uncertainties related to material properties became a critical consideration in engineering designs.

The design safety factors are applied to material properties and loads applied to the system, enabling it to account for uncertainties and fostering the design resilient infrastructure.

At KA Engineering Group, we are always passionate about designing resilient telecom infrastructures. Safety is our paramount consideration. We also take responsible steps to consider, advise, and optimise each site, ensuring cost-effective design, installation, and maintenance for build contractors and efficient operator utilisation.

Fundamentals of Engineering

As engineers, the importance of analysing a structure using fundamental engineering principles cannot be over-emphasized. Without a doubt, the development of software for engineering design and analysis is one of the greatest engineering breakthroughs, assisting in carrying out complex calculations quickly and accurately. However, today’s alarming trend is that many civil/structural engineers are heavily reliant on software to provide all the answers without a sound knowledge of the underlying principles. The understanding of first principle is essential in being able to work with software and make them work for you.

If one relies too much on software in developing structural designs, one becomes a technician instead of an engineer. A mantra in software usage is “garbage IN, garbage OUT”, meaning that any analysis results generated by the software are only as good as the input data. Good software can produce good results, but only when used by a competent engineer. The sole purpose of using these tools and software is not just to use them, but to use them to further our fundamental understanding as engineers.

At KAEG, we believe that no matter how easy design software may make our jobs, we will never lose sight of this core value – the fundamentals of engineering.

Takeaway: Keep calm & always review fundamentals!

We are committed to keeping up with the changes in technology and staying on top of new and innovative software. KAEG aims at cultivating a culture that produces young engineers that know how to use these powerful tools while retaining a complete understanding of the foundation of this specialized discipline.

Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Survey best practices for wall mounted telecom ancillaries

Wall mounted telecom antennas are one of the best options for services in urban areas where it is not feasible to go for ground-based tower installations. They can be installed on various buildings including office, residential, workshops, and many others. They can be installed either on walls or parapets. However, the installation should be done such that the load is transferred to the primary structure efficiently and without causing any problems to the integrity of the primary structure.

To design an efficient configuration, it is critical to record the below structural details during survey.

  1. Identify the primary structure type and its thickness: The wall may be concrete, masonry or cladded with underlying steelwork. If you have a lot of different construction types on your site, it’s important to check them all before finalising the installation location.
  2. Check the location of existing/proposed wall mounted telecom antennas: Ensure that the wall brackets are at least 300mm away from nearest wall edge. Check the height of the antenna from the ground and overhang above top wall support.
  3. Measure the antenna support steelwork including the wall brackets.
  4. Check the spacing between brackets: can it be increased if required for safe design?
  5. Check if the wall connections are resin anchored or back plated:
    • If resin anchors, make sure that the anchors are not installed in mortar as this could lead to corrosion issues. They should always be placed through the bricks.
    • For resin anchors, check the wall plate size and spacing between anchors carefully.
  6. Check if any secondary supports like bracing is provided: Braces are good way of distributing the loads on primary structure in case of excessive overhang. This should be done using 2No. orthogonal braces connected to suitable locations on wall/roof.
  7. Check if there is any deterioration of mortar on wall surface and how can it be repaired.

It is important to note that these surveys should always be performed by an experienced surveyor who understands the basics of structural engineering.

KA Engineering Group not only completes structural due diligence for all telecommunication support structures, we also take further responsible steps to consider, advise, and optimise each site, ensuring cost effective design, installation, and maintenance for build contractors and efficient utilisation for operators.

Contact our expert team at info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs

Designing Resilient Telecoms Structure

There are three key considerations in the structural design of resilient and optimal telecoms infrastructure:

The first is to ensure that the structure being designed does not fail. This involves understanding the proposed orientation of the structure, what loads the structure will face, the load path through the structure, the internal and external stability of the structure, and the material and section type to be used for the structure.

The second is serviceability; to ensure that the structure meets applicable operational criteria such as deflection.

The final consideration is to ensure best value for money. Good knowledge of orientation of telecoms structure is key to achieving a resilient structure using as little material as possible. It often involves designing the structure in such a way that all parts of the structure are being utilized to their fullest with the factor of safety in mind. At KAEG we start working with our clients at planning drawing stage to ensure that solutions progressed to full detailed design are efficient.

At KA Engineering Group, we leverage our extensive engineering experience to accurately design any form of telecoms structure ranging from complex GDC to basic DD analysis. We take responsible steps to consider, advise, and optimise each site, ensuring cost-effective design, installation, and maintenance for build contractors and efficient utilization for operators.

Mental Health Awareness Week

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. No one is immune from feeling lonely and the pandemic really highlighted how much we all rely on interaction with others. Feelings of isolation have a negative impact on our wellbeing. By taking steps to prevent feeling isolated ourselves, we can also help combat loneliness in those around us. Read on to discover our top 3 tips for combating loneliness at work.

  • Create a routine for checking in with others. Whether you start your day in a physical office, a virtual office, or even in the absence of an office at all, this is the perfect time to get in touch with others. Whether this be via face-to-face communication or a friendly message over WhatsApp, it will help the other person feel connected and give them a boost to start their day.
  • Share but do not compare. Sometimes the emotions we are going through can harbour feelings of loneliness because we do not realise that others are going through the same things. By being open when we are struggling or having difficulties with our work we can help others to feel as though their feelings are validated. However, it is important that we do not compare- it is not a competition.
  • Find shared interests. By talking about our hobbies and passions, we can find others with similar interests, and this can help communication flow. Even if someone does not have the same interest, your passion may spark something in them and encourage them to try something new- which can also be great for our mood and wellbeing.

What are your top tips for combating loneliness at work?

Why we need Good Data

The importance of data in engineering cannot be over-emphasised, as engineers utilize data to make meaningful calculations and judgments while designing systems. Generally, the client is responsible for providing structural engineers with helpful information. This information includes site location, datasheets, existing site condition, details of proposed system among others. This enables the engineer to perform a correct calculation to ascertain the safety of the proposal.

Providing incorrect data about a site can lead to a catastrophic failure of the proposed system. Hence, it is the responsibility of the client to provide engineers with correct and adequate information before design. At the same time, it is the engineer’s responsibility to confirm the correctness of the information and state any assumptions. This will help curb system failures caused by incorrect design data.

We are always passionate in pursuing engineering excellence, best design practice and new technology to provide our customers with cost-effective, reliable, and fast turnaround design solutions. Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com or kingsley.sunday@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.