All together now: component fabricators get a boost from whole-house design programs

All together now: component fabricators get a boost from whole-house design programs – Product Info

Stephani L. Miller

Engineered wood component fabricators soon will be able to utilize a variety of component design software applications that combine the capabilities of multiple software programs and allow fabricators to deliver entire pre-engineered, pre-fabricated, whole-house systems to their customers. Several engineered wood product (EWP) manufacturers are developing applications that combine structural framing, architecture, and engineering with component design. Manufacturers believe the availability of easy-to-use, integrated whole-house design programs could lead more builders to utilize engineered wood components.

Whole-house design software takes the various truss and panel design software programs that EWP manufacturers already provide to their dealers one step further by integrating several separate functions. Keymark Enterprises, a developer of component engineering and design software since 1975, has been offering its KeyBuild software for two years. Other manufacturers, including TrusWal, Trus Joist, MiTek, Alpine Engineered Products, and Boise (circle 101), have caught on to the need for this type of software and are currently offering, testing, or preparing to release whole-house design software.

Whole-house design software provides one tool for designing and analyzing a structure and its members and performing materials takeoffs and 3-D modeling. Combining all these functions allows the fabricator and design team to work more closely together from a project’s beginning, and ultimately generate better blueprints from the outset. This type of tool also minimizes the number of times a structure is described and redescribed, says Keith Deitzen, president of Keymark. “Right now, with all the suppliers, the overall community describes the structure,” Deitzen says. “You’re redescribing that house or its parts 20 to 50 times. So if everyone can agree to feed off one description, then the cost is weighted by only one description.”

When architects are familiar with component strengths, the result can be blueprints that need minimal changes. The design and fabrication chain can save time, because fewer corrections will have to be made. “When you get an architect to has component experience, he designs to the strengths of the components,” says Tom Whipple, marketing director for Alpine. This can eliminate redundant materials, thus cutting costs.

Whole-house design software developers offer a variety of solutions. TrusWal’s IntelliBuild (circle 102) uses parametric modeling to maintain relationships between connected components. When one aspect of a component is changed, all those connected to it are automatically adjusted.

Trus Joist’s and MiTek’s joint venture, OptiFrame Software’s OptiFrame V2 (circle 103), automates the transfer of data between functions. Its key benefit is the linking between all structural materials and their attributes, optimizing the structure by eliminating redundant materials.

Keymark’s KeyBuild circle 104) automates and integrates all the major functions that take place in specifying and engineering the building materials for wood or cold-formed steel structures.

Alpine’s VIEW (visually integrated engineering window) software (circle 105) features a new facet: Architectural VIEW, which provides 3-D modeling capabilities and allows its framing technologies to be used further upstream in the design process.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Hanley-Wood, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group