Structural design engineers play a vital role in construction projects, as they are responsible for ensuring the structural systems within a building can withstand internal and external extreme forces and loads. Without structural engineers, it would be virtually impossible for us to keep buildings standing.

As we have spoken about in previous posts, there are substantial technological changes taking place in the construction industry at the moment – including BIM. As a BIM company, we know that designers and architects are no strangers to computational design and BIM – another area which is also being disrupted by the introduction of the cloud.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key industry trends affecting structural firms – along with the challenges and opportunities these present.

Delivery Models

The design process is also more complicated these days with the inclusion of constructability factors, new technological innovations and project complexity, meaning that new project delivery models are having to be created. As a result of this, structural engineers are having to extend their services as well, with a blur of responsibility happening between the construction team, fabricators and structural engineer team.

This change in boundaries between project teams means that there can be challenges relating to contractual delivery responsibilities through the different design changes.

Labour Shortages

The demand for skilled labour in the field, the shop and design offices are growing and not just on a national scale, but a global scale too. However, automation software and international teams can help to fill the gaps. A lot of the younger generation has been brought up on screen time, and so structural engineering may not be their first choice of career – unless you stress the use of communications, digital technologies and media to spark some interest in them.

Project Collaboration

Construction managers and owners are beginning to demand better documentation and increased collaboration earlier on in the project. This demand means that structural designers and detailers need to use BIM and other automation tools in a more integrated manner – helping them to save on costs for changes during the construction process.

Project Complexity

Building structures are becoming more involved in their design, not just in their shape but also in how they are being delivered. Owners are embarking on more and more ambitious projects and demanding better accountability. However, this move towards more complex designs means that structural integrity and safety are more important than ever – which is where BIM comes into its own as a means of assessing design mitigation and hazards.

There is also a move towards more offsite construction methods which will affect how structural engineers think about manufacturing, shipping and assembly of the building.

If you are a structural engineering firm who want to use a more collaborative approach to design and construction, then please contact the CAD Room today and ask for more information on our BIM Services.