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.

Evaluating Performance

At KA Engineering group, we are dedicated to the continual development growth of both the company and our staff. One of the most useful tools for ensuring this happens is the use of performance appraisals. However, effectiveness is directly linked to the way in which they are approached by both line management and employees. Here are some of our top tips for successful use:

To gain the most from appraisals, management must be well versed in how to approach them. Firstly, they must take a consistent approach toward all employees. Failure to do so will result in feelings of bias and create friction between staff. The goals and objectives set should be easy to understand, with a clear roadmap of how they can be achieved. Finally, whilst productivity metrics may be seen of greatest importance, these should not be the only things discussed. Success is a result of a combination of a range of different activities within a business, and these should all make up part of the discussion.

For employees to get the most from their appraisals, they must learn the skill of self-evaluation. Being able to critically evaluate performance metrics will give a greater insight into the progression made. Do not only identify strengths but look at how these can be exploited to their full potential. There must be an honest consideration of weaknesses and barriers to progression. This will allow for mitigations to be identified and implemented.

Appraisals can be a timely and costly process, which makes their use subject to criticism. What is clear is that when not used effectively, they can be a source of dread and frustration, creating conflict within the work environment. On the flip side, when utilised to their full potential, their value is immeasurable and an invaluable tool which benefits both parties.

Sketching – Another way for Engineers to Communicate Technical Information

An engineering drawing is a detailed description of an engineering structure. Although a structural engineer may be comfortable with using and understanding these drawings, we often need to communicate our ideas to important people outside of our discipline. This is where sketching shines! A sketch is a quick drawing made in an informal way, aiming to communicate design ideas to others in the simplest form possible.

For instance, we sometimes propose strengthening solutions when a tower fails. It becomes a challenge especially when we try to explain rather complex engineering ideas in words. Even if a good solution is designed, but can’t communicate it in a comprehensible manner, it may result in misunderstanding and not be implemented correctly, leading to potential quality issues.

However, a simple sketch in the report can express more than words and give a greater understanding of an idea and remove any ambiguity. It can also save clients’ time on coming back for clarifications. At KAEG, we aim to provide our clients with not only economical and fast turnaround design solutions but in a clear, legible, and easy-to-understand way.

KAEG 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 to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Ps: We have explored several sketching packages and are currently loving the Microsoft paint 3D. It was used to generate the sketches in the blog image!

Workplace Stress

This month, our team will receive training on how to better manage their mental health and wellbeing. Stress, whilst not a mental health problem itself, can have a major impact on our mental wellbeing. When we experience periods of poor mental health, it has a knock-on effect on our productivity and our ability to fully engage with our work community. For this reason, it is important that we are able to identify and manage stress effectively.

We have put together a list of our top tips for dealing with workplace stress.

  • Identify your triggers. They might be one-off events or issues that come up regularly. Whilst you may be unable to avoid these situations, being prepared for them will help. Brainstorm ideas for ways in which you can minimise the stress they place on you.
  • Organise your time. Manage your workload based on your energy levels. Tasks which are mentally strenuous should be done when you are likely to be at your most energised. Ensure to schedule in rest breaks and try not to do too much at once. By setting yourself small, manageable goals, you will be able to see your achievements.
  • Tell people how you feel. This may take a bit of practice but learn to say no when you feel people are making unreasonable demands of you. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you may find that someone is unaware of the pressure that they are placing on you.
  • Look after your physical health. We are able to better manage stress if we are physically healthy. You should try and get enough sleep each night and eat small regular meals to keep your energy levels up. Exercise has been shown to have many benefits such as reducing fatigue, improving concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function.
  • Build your support network. Having a strong support network will ensure that you have people who can provide advice and guidance which may help you to find better ways to cope with difficult situations. It will also prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness which have been associated with a number of different health issues.

Spot the Difference

KAEG recently completed a project which neatly underlines the importance of being able to look behind the workings of black-box finite element analysis (FEA) software. Perhaps, even more important is the ability to probe and understand the output once you get behind the black-box.  See if you can spot the simplest strengthening scheme that we applied for this failing structure by comparing the left and right image!

We received the telecommunications headframe (left image) and it had been marked as failed. It had been run through some FEA software which showed that structural utilisation was over 100%. We took the results apart, probed every member for loading in 6 degrees of freedom. We were able to pin the issue down to one member which was over-utilised in one direction causing loads to be improperly distributed.

The fix: add a simple bracing strut in the left hand corner of the middle triangle to bring the utilisation down to 80% (right image).

KAEG are at the forefront of providing cost-effective design solutions to over-stressed telecommunication 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.

Internal Database Makes KAEG Faster, Smarter

KA Engineering Group has just celebrated our 3-year anniversary. Since the business established in 2018, we have treated data as a valuable asset and started to build an internal specialised database including wind speed dataset, ancillary parameters, tower manufacture details, client design specifications and design guidelines for different structures, etc.

Each passing day means that not only do our design capabilities and project experience improve but our internal database becomes bigger, better and smarter. Our in-house database allows our engineering work to be streamlined and standardised so that we can provide our clients with economical and fast turnaround design solutions.

With the help of our database, it is possible that performing a full tower climbdown survey can be eliminated, saving time and cost for clients. If climbdown survey is required, we can also offer guidance and provide KA survey template that lists all design data required for structural analysis to avoid the lack of key information and a costly site revisit. We also have the ability to support the entire construction/modification process of telecom towers and rooftop structures, from survey through to structural design and completion.

KAEG 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 to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Impact of Feeder Arrangement

Feeder cables can FAIL a lattice tower, through exceeding the structural utilisation capacity, if not arranged thoughtfully. Carefully planned feeder arrangement in a simple system can reduce the utilisation of the lattice tower legs by 15% and reduce the tower brace utilisation by nearly 40%!

Without adequate forethought, a telecommunication system with 16 feeder cables on a tower may be arranged in stacks of 1 or 2. This leads to wind load across eight, or even 16 feeder surface areas.

We investigated the effect of feeder arrangements on tower utilisation. We placed four antennas at the top of an existing 30m square lattice tower, fed by 16 typical sized feeders in a variety of different arrangements. To replicate a common tower arrangement, the structure also included a ladder mounted on one of the tower faces.

What We Found

Our analyses showed the maximum tower utilisation with the feeders stacked in a single row of 16, mounted on one leg, adjacent to the ladder location. Minimum utilisation was from feeders stacked in rows of four, mounted on a leg that is not directly supporting the ladder.

The difference in structural utilisation between these two scenarios was 15% for the tower legs, and 38% for the tower braces!

A surprising find was the structural utilisation from the feeders separated into groups of four, stacked in rows of two, mounted on each leg. The leg and brace utilisation were greater than those in the minimum scenario by 5% and 6% respectively.

Take Away Message

Feeders must be arranged with tower loading in mind. With less loading from feeders, more ancillaries can be placed on the tower, resulting in a more useful AND more financially profitable structure.

Check your existing towers. Check your proposed towers. Think about how the feeders are, or are proposed to be, arranged:

  • Are the feeders helping to distribute the loads more evenly throughout the tower?
  • Are the feeders stacked in the most efficient manner to reduce wind load on the structure?

KAEG continues to leverage our expertise to maximise the structural potential of your asset. Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Tower Strengthening Project

At KA Engineering Group, we analyse a wide range of structures from monopoles to lattice towers and everything in-between. We recently completed the analysis of  an existing 48m tower for the proposed addition of a 2-meter microwave dish.

Using a combination of the information from previous site surveys, as-built construction drawings, and photographs, we produced a detailed 3D finite element model. We then applied wind, weight and ice loads based on British Standards and European Codes.

The tower had previously been strengthened through the addition of circular hollow sections (CHS) braces at various elevations. We found that these sections were themselves over-utilised and were adversely affecting the load distribution within the tower. As a result of this finding, the client was informed to remove the existing strengthening solution and to complete a more targeted strengthening scheme which brought the tower utilisation down to 80% providing more capacity for the future.

In addition to the strengthening solution analysis, we provided a general arrangement and fabrication drawing to clearly illustrate the sections that are to be replaced on the structure. 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.

Anchors Embedded in Masonry

In wall mounted pole structures, the function of anchor bolts is to transfer design forces such as uplift due to wind or vertical gravitational loads to the masonry. KAEG employs advanced engineering best practices to more consistently design and analyse anchors in order to ensure the installation properly embody its requirements.

The method of calculating the pull-out load is based on the shape of the failure surface, a truncated cone, observed during base material failure (Destructive loading). The proof test load is determined through structural analysis of two scenarios; wind perpendicular to wall and wind parallel to wall, taking ancillary orientation into account.

Anchors are tested (Non-destructive loading) with a pass result prior to installation to the calculated proof test load to confirms the holding power of anchors for the purpose of providing assurance of correct installation.

In the event that the calculated pull out load values is high, either load bearing internal back-plates or additional back-plated brackets are installed to strengthen the wall mounted connection, which negates the need to proof test the anchors.

Unlike concrete, masonry walls are not uniform base material and the location of the anchors in the wall affect the performance. Therefore, anchor designs require careful considerations in order to ensure that the applied loads are sufficiently distributed and the masonry is robust.

KAEG are at the forefront of providing valued engineering to achieve cost- and installation effective design solutions in the telecommunication industry to network providers. Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

Freestanding Ballast Frames

The design of free-standing rooftop structure in accordance with design codes to serviceability criterion is a fundamental first principle design that can be completed by the old-school pen and calculator method, but the solution is often over- or under-designed. The designed solution must be adequate to ensure that the structure is stable against overturning moment (OTM) and sliding forces caused by wind action in addition to eccentric weights, accounting for the ancillaries, steelwork, and ballast frame.

Overturning moments are primarily due to wind forces in addition to eccentric vertical loads about the global centroid of structure. This de-stabilising load must be balanced and counteracted to achieve structural stability and safe operations.  More often, simplified method is adopted that only considers the destabilizing and stabilizing forces on one side of the structure which is not always the optimal design. Configuration optimisation is essential to achieve cost and installation effective solution such as reduced ballast frame size and induced pressure on the roof. This includes:

  1. Positioning the antennas and associated RRUs in a staggered configuration to reduce unfavourable eccentricity.
  2. Compact configuration which involve shielding the RRUs behind the antennas to reduce the wind destabilsing force.

KAEG are at the forefront of providing valued engineering to achieve cost- and installation effective design solutions in the telecommunication industry to network providers. Contact our expert team at: info@ka-engroup.com to learn more and discuss how we can best serve your needs.