Hazim Al Khalaf, PE, co-founded Wilson HAJ Consultant Engineers with 18 years of experience with a vision to bring civil and structural engineering expertise to a wide variety of public and private sector projects across the United States. As an accomplished civil/structural engineer with deep experience designing, developing and deploying construction projects, Al Khalaf has a keen understanding of the important role software plays in structural analysis and design.
Before discovering Tekla software, Wilson HAJ engineers were using multiple software packages for analysis and design, requiring them to switch back and forth between programs. Not only was this time consuming, but maintaining multiple software licenses was costly. Hand calculations and spreadsheets were also making structural design cumbersome and increasing the potential for error. Looking to streamline the entire analysis and design process, Al Khalaf turned to Trimble and discovered that Tekla Structural Designer and Tekla Tedds could ease many of the firm’s challenges.
Tekla Structural Designer: One Software, One Model
It didn’t take long after implementing Tekla Structural Designer for Wilson HAJ to see results. Working from one model and in one software program, from concept through detailed design, increased productivity by eliminating the back and forth between multiple software programs. Tekla Structural Designer offered everything the firm’s engineers needed for analysis and design, all in one place. “Engineering is difficult enough without navigating multiple tools,” said Al Khalaf. “Tekla Structural Designer simplifies the entire process and takes care of the analysis so we can focus on the design.”
Professional, Accurate Documentation
Tekla Structural Designer automatically produces accurate and detailed documentation, including calculation reports, material take offs and drawings. Because a single model contains all the design information, Wilson HAJ engineers can easily generate documentation and make informed decisions at any stage of the project, starting at very early concept design.
“Before Tekla Structural Designer, we spent a great deal of time estimating materials,” said Al Khalaf. “Today, with the push of a button, we have a materials list for assessing cost and submitting more accurate bids.”
Wilson HAJ engineers design and analyze multi-material buildings with Tekla Structural Designer, both steel and concrete, in a fraction of the time. Al Khalaf shares, “We can present the client with two different concept designs, each with its own list of materials, which allows us to collaborate with the client and compare the two alternatives to come up with the best solution. This has definitely helped us win more business.”
Bringing Efficiency to Complex Design
Prior to Tekla Structural Designer, Wilson HAJ engineers used the traditional strip method for structural slab design, an approach that required them to be overly conservative and sometimes wasteful. Leveraging the finite element analysis capabilities of Tekla Structural Designer instead, they can focus on the results of the analysis. Placing the reinforcing only where the forces occur in the slab creates a more efficient design.
This was especially useful in the recent design of a large underground concrete vault. With high loads applied to the slab on the lid of the vault, Tekla Structural Designer allowed the engineers to only apply patches to the areas where stress was highly concentrated. “We were able to focus steel mesh only on those areas of stress and avoid distributing the steel in low-stress areas, which saved a large amount of both steel and time,” said Al Khalaf.
Tekla Tedds: Automating Structural Calculations
After success with Tekla Structural Designer, Al Khalaf decided to try Tekla Tedds, Trimble’s software for automating repetitive structural calculations. The firm was using spreadsheets and hand calculations, which were time-consuming, error-prone and made it difficult to stay up to date with code changes.
Wilson HAJ first used Tedds for a shear wall design its engineers submitted to the city of Lakewood in Washington. Tedds saved time by automating many of the structural calculations and allowed the team to create and deliver detailed, professional documentation. “The reviewer for the city of Lakewood, who had a great deal of experience and has seen countless designs, said this was the first time she had seen calculations this organized,” said Al Khalaf. “We have Tedds to thank for that.”
The ease of use and detailed output of Tedds calculations greatly reduce the time it takes to create calculation packages for plan reviewers. The time saved directly results in budget savings, which mean more competitive bid proposals and higher earnings per project. The consistent, transparent design documents produced by Tedds are easy for state and city reviewers to check and as a result, speed up the approval process for Wilson HAJ designs. With Tedds, the firm can quickly create and export consistent reports and documents that are branded for a more professional image.
“Using Tedds, the codes are embedded and always up to date so accuracy is guaranteed,” said Al Khalaf. “Our work is not only accurate, it’s organized. This has had a positive impact on our reputation because when reviewers see organized, accurate and high-quality documentation, they trust our work and it gets approved.”
Al Khalaf credits Tekla software with driving productivity and helping the firm grow.
“Tekla Structural Designer and Tekla Tedds have gone beyond our expectations and streamlined analysis and design,” said Al Khalaf. “In our business, time is money and Tekla software has, without a doubt, made a significant impact on our productivity and helped grow our business.”