It was good to be back face-to-face with members this year, many of whom are old friends of SCI and those who work here. As we all know, and many of us are already embracing or wrestling with, the drivers for design and subsequent construction are changing. No longer is financial cost the only concern, we also need to think about ‘planet cost’, for example in terms of the embodied energy associated with different options. It’s interesting that the same thing that has a big influence on cost, namely the joints between steel elements, can also have a big influence on the amount of material used and therefore the embodied energy of the solution. Getting the joints, or if you prefer connections, right is therefore critical. Nick Cole from Robert Bird Group opened the day’s presentations. He sits on a Steering Group for an upcoming SCI publication on complex connections, and talked about some of the issues this publication will address. His presentation included some very interesting statistics showing how people’s views on the responsibility of different parties for connection design vary immensely. Clear information transfer is vital. We then had a presentation from Graham Couchman that suggested the time for semi-continuous design may finally be coming – 25 years after SCI publication P183. Without changing much, if anything, of the detailing significant savings in material can be made by exploiting the joints’ inherent properties. The final presentation on the main theme of joints came from Jennifer Pazdon from Cast Connex, who presented fascinating ways of constructing complex joint geometries through casting to ensure that the right amount of material gets used in the right places. Moving on from the idea of minimising material through clever design and manufacture, the next two presentations covered using ‘lower carbon’ materials as an alternative for slabs with steel frames. Jenny Burridge from The Concrete Centre talked about alternative concretes, whilst Ricardo Pimentel from Pell Frischmann presented on the use of timber slabs with steel beams. The SCI team of Graham Couchman and David Brown spoke briefly about the second-generation Eurocodes 3 and 4, before Priney Chauhan from Trimble spoke about his company’s current offerings and how they are helping designer to build less energy intensive structures.
We would like to thank all the sponsors of the event; ArcelorMittal, CAST CONNEX, IDEA StatiCa, Steel Piling Group (SPG) Steel Bridge Group (SBG) and Tension Control Bolts (TCB). A special thanks also goes to all the external speakers, without whose support events like this would not be possible. All presentations can be viewed here.