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How SDS/2’s Automated Connection Design Can Streamline Project Workflows

In a traditional project workflow, steel connections are often the cause of many RFIs and back-and-forth communication throughout the project lifecycle. As plans are handed down from the detailer to the fabricator and erector, each party potentially finding issues in constructability and erectability, changes must be passed back to the engineer through the detailer for approval, resulting in a prolonged detailing process, extra involvement for the engineer, and greater risk of delays.

SDS/2’s automated connection design can mitigate many of these issues not only by streamlining the detailing and modeling process—new users have reported doubling their productivity by their third project after implementing SDS/2—but also by providing more intelligent connections that account for structural integrity, constractability, and erectability.


Intelligent Designs, Automatic Calculations

The standard schedules handed from engineer to detailer for simple connections often fall short in the real world of complex connections, moment connections, and potential issues with additional framing, clearance, safety, fabrication, and erection. 

With automated connection design capabilities that currently account for AISC and CISC requirements, as well as customizable fabricator standards and preferences, the connections for an entire project can easily be added or modified as the 3D model is being built. 

When a user inputs members into the model, connections—and the corresponding materials, bolts, holes, and welds—are added automatically based on setup preferences and load requirements, with no additional steps needed. 

Additional features, such as automatic piece marking on connection materials, provide further time-saving benefits as the project moves down the line. At the same time, expanded calculations with detailed formulas and results are provided for every connection in SDS/2, so project engineers can quickly validate connection strength, limit states, and more for any changes sent back to them from the detailer. 


Complete Solutions, Complete Control

While there are other software solutions that handle connection design, and some that may account for structural integrity or constructability, SDS/2 is the only solution that automatically handles both. It is also the only solution—period—to provide automatic adjustments and checks for erectability.  

Structural Integrity

While other solutions run checks to determine if connections meet loading requirements, SDS/2 works in the other direction, providing true design capabilities. Users input loading requirements and other parameters, and it automatically designs a solution that is structurally sound and code compliant.


SDS/2 generates models as they will be fabricated, with a high level of detail to reduce errors and delays in the shop. In our 3D modeling environment, users can see how beams are cut back and check for bolt clashes and accurate gusset plates.


No other software provides erectability checks for connection design. Because SDS/2’s intelligent connection design considers the complete node, it can make adjustments such as thinning a bottom flange to avoid material clashes with bolts, coping flanges to avoid hitting a shear plate during erection, or extending a shear plate to allow torque wrench access and bolt path clearance. This unparalleled advantage can dramatically reduce field errors and ease the erection process for faster project completion.

All of these advantages come fully automated in SDS/2. An entire structure can be connected in a matter of seconds with batch or auto design. And yet you maintain complete control over the process. It’s all customizable to your fabrication preferences, and any connection can be manually overridden—with instantly updated calculations and checks, giving you fine-tuned control over the entire project. 

What this all adds up to—with the connection design implemented into the model, the power of automation, and the robust intelligence of SDS/2’s solutions—is a streamlined workflow and all-around cost and time savings for each party involved in the project.


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