Manufactured Structural Product – A Start to Defining

A manufactured structural product (MSP), is a product that is dependent on structural engineering/design to demonstrate its fitness-for-function, and is otherwise fabricated in a factory and then transported to site and assembled. Primarily the intent is that it is designed once and fabricated and installed many times. The reality is, that the structural product is often designed each and every time, for every instance of manufacture and installation. To remain considered a manufactured structural product the specific instance needs to be derived from a set of common components forming a building system. To be considered a building system, the selection of components suitable for the purpose of a specific assembly needs to be done with out complex engineering calculations and instead using simplified design aids such as design curves and lookup tables. The use of sophisticated computer software which does complex structural calculations in the back ground deviates from the concept of a manufactured structural product.

Typical structural design software produces what I refer to as point-values: it is like looking at he world through a small window and never have a complete view of the whole system. A structural product is designed to be suitable across a range of conditions, not for a single point. Mathematically between any two points on a design curve there is an infinite number of design points, similarly in a domain space defined by an enclosing boundary there are an infinite number of design points. Randomly bumping into these design points on an as needs basis serves no productive purpose. We live in a world of finite resources, an infinite universe maybe, but still finite supply of useful resources. The systems and components we use have finite capability, that finite capability defines a bounding envelope of suitability. For a manufactured structural product sophisticated computer software is used to determine the bounding envelope, not the point-value for a specific usage. This analysis is done behind the scenes once, and does not form any part of the interaction with a specific customers needs and wants. Selection is a simple process of checking product capability against customer needs: either it meets them or it does not. Modifying the generic system to meet the customers needs is not acceptable: either the system can be adapted to meet the customers needs or it cannot. To clarify the components of the system can be assembled in a variety of ways to meet the end-users needs, but if the system or the components need to be modified then it is unsuitable. More design may be done on the system to make it more suitable for future projects: but the system is not re-designed for every project.