SDS/2 Fortosi - Defining Fortosi
While Fortosi — like any good idea — took some time to formulate, the original concept began in 2005.
A Quick Look Back
Even more than a decade ago, software companies, machine manufacturers and fabricators themselves were striving to increase efficiency in the estimation, tracking and fabrication of structural steel. While processes were developed to improve the handling of fabricated members to loading the trailers, there wasn't much progress in software development.
Most centered on creating a loading list, which the loader would use to start determining what went where on the trailer, and then track what was shipped. After the list was created and sent, it was "magic in the box." The experienced loader would use their rules of thumb and years of experience to put the steel on the truck.
How It Began
The inspiration for creating a 3D truck loading software didn't begin with Fortosi. There were several early attempts made, as well as a study completed in 2015 by the École de Technologie Supérieure Université du Québec. Guillaume Bolduc's study discussed the necessity and opportunity for a 3D software for loading the complicated shapes of structural steel.
As I learned more about the process of putting steel on the trailer, I saw how a 3D tool could not only improve this operation but also improve fabrication and offloading at the site. This meant not only saving time and money but also improving safety.
Additional inspiration sprung from a client who observed the loading process from his office and noticed the workers loading and offloading members. Loaders would disappear for an extended period of time while they would locate and move members to be staged and loaded. This was coupled with loaders trying to view all members and, in short, trying to build and fit everything together on the trailer in their heads before they lifted the steel; they also performed some potentially unsafe practices.
Based on the industry need to improve truck loading, Fortosi was given the green light for development. From the outset, we sought to create a software that was:
• Independent — all current modeling software that exported an IFC 2x3 file could be used for import into Fortosi
• Simple — easy to use, and easy to learn
• Flexible — users should be able to manually, semi-automatically and automatically place members (called loadables in Fortosi parlance) on to the trailer
• Intelligent — able to give the weight of added members to the trailer, and also supply center of gravity data for the load and applied load at the trailer axles and kingpin
• Useful — report the data to enable the loader and shipper to perform their tasks
• Bi-directional — feed the data back to the MIS systems that permit updating
The Benefits of 3D Truck Loading
It was also imperative the software has clear and strategic benefits to our users. Namely, Fortosi enables our customers to:
• Load trailers in a safe virtual environment, reducing the amount of steel handling; it's easier to move a mouse than a 1,000-pound piece of steel
• Eliminate creating a "by weight" load list, which does not allow for the geometry of the loaded members, causing them to be insufficient
• Provide a clear indication to the loader and hauler that the load is balanced
• Allow the shop to plan fabrication based offloads defined by erection requirements before the steel is fabricated
• Reduce the number of shipped trailers, by having actual data and not relying on rules of thumb
• Know that some of the complicated assembled members will fit on the trailer, rather than having to break members apart during loading time and scrambling to get another trailer
• Locate exactly where members are on the trailer if they need to be pulled off for modification due to revisions
Ultimately, through a deep dive into the complexity of loading trailers and by leveraging loader knowledge, we were able to develop a tool that assists the industry and improves processes.