TechNote#003 A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION FOR MANUFACTURERS/SUPPLIERS AND OTHER USERS OF PRE-ENGINEERED SOLUTIONS

INTRODUCTION

This guide is written to assist you (manufacturers/suppliers) with the following:

  1. Guidance on what services a consulting engineer can offer and therefore enable you to obtain the most appropriate service for your needs.
  2. Guidance on the risk, liability and responsibilities that engineering practitioners usually accept in the course of their duties.

THE GUIDE

  1. Users of pre-engineered solutions should understand that they are in competition with consulting engineers. Every building/structure that you supply based on these solutions represents one less structure that an engineer will be consulted to design. So for consultants to provide you with such solutions; is for them to throw away their future income.
  2. It is therefore in the best interests of manufacturers/suppliers that are dependent on engineering knowledge to employ at least one suitably qualified engineering practitioner, such as an engineering officer (EngO.)
  3. There are four levels of practice in the engineering field with regards to design. These are technician (1 year certificate or on the job training), engineering associates/officers (2 year Associate Diploma), engineering technologist (3 year B.Tech) and engineer (4 year B.Eng).
  4. Before a practitioner is considered qualified at least 3 years of relevant experience has to be obtained after graduation from their course of study. This experience is generally indicated by membership of the institution of engineers Australia: OMIEAust, TMIEAust, and MIEAust. Or international organisations such as MIStructE, MIMechE, ASME, ASCE.
  5. A further and more reliable indicator of technical competence is achievement of chartered status: CEngO, CEngT and CPEng. Following this is registration on the National Professional Engineers Register (NPER), which is soon to include officers and technologists and applied scientists and possibly architects. This register is searchable on the internet making it easy to find an appropriately qualified person in your local area, it can be found at the national engineering registration boards website at http://www.nerb.org.au
  6. The vast majority of engineering design involves little more than drafting and specifying intentions. This work can therefore be carried out by drafters and technicians (EngTech).
  7. The vast majority of engineering calculations are also relatively simple and can be carried out by engineering associates/officers (EngO).
  8. Should a manufacturer/supplier take on a project that is beyond the technical abilities of the EngO, then they can consult a higher level engineering practitioner to complete those tasks they are unable to perform themselves.
  9. Roughly speaking structural design consists of:
    1. Deciding on the structural form
    2. Determining actions or loads and combinations of such
    3. Calculating action effects
    4. Designing the structural members
    5. Designing Connections
    6. Designing footings
  10. The main obstacle an EngO would have to completing the entire design, is calculating the design action effects for the form of structure chosen. If they know what the effects are, then they can complete the design. Hence they only need obtain the services of a structural analyst to carry out the calculations they are unable to, and request the information be presented back to them in the appropriate form. This avoids paying the high fees of the higher level engineer for tasks the lower level engineering officer is capable of performing.
  11. But note I said the problem concerned performing the calculations for the structural form chosen. The EngO can equally well choose a simpler structural form and carry out the necessary structural calculations. In general such calculations would result in larger member sizes being required, than would result from analysis of the more complex structural form. However, such calculations are a necessary check, for accepting or rejecting the calculations carried out for the more complex structural form.
  12. Thus an EngO can keep the structural form simple, carry out the entire engineering design, and then seek the services of higher level engineering practitioners to achieve greater economy in the design.
  13. It has been said in the past that an engineer can do for $1 that which anyone can do for $2.
  14. However, there is little point in spending $1000 for more advanced engineering in order to save a $1000 worth of material. Furthermore there is no guarantee that more complex mathematical models result in a reduction in material.
  15. More complex structural forms usually save material at the expense of increasing labour costs.
  16. It should be noted that architects and engineers work together to optimise as far as is practical the use of available materials to meet the needs of a given building.
  17. Engineering calculations usually produce a capacity requirement that lies between the capacities of commercially available sections. The larger available section has to be chosen, however changing the structural configuration may allow the smaller section to be used. But there is little point in changing the design model and performing more complex calculations if the required capacity is closer to the larger section than the smaller section.
  18. Building design and Structural engineering need to be considered in conjunction with industrial, production, manufacturing and construction engineering disciplines. If a quality product is to be designed that fully meets the needs of the customer.
  19. In-house engineering can produce necessary specifications and brochures to inform potential customers so that they can make intelligent comparisons between various suppliers, and conclude that higher prices do in fact represent better value for money. That the higher prices are not just the result of inefficient production and extortionate profits, but do actually represent a longer lasting more reliable product. {Compare the technical information/brochures available for other engineered products such as cars, camera’s, video recorders, DVD’s, machine tools, against the rubbish the building industry typically supplies.}
  20. With respect to building approval the Development Act refers to an independent Technical Expert who is permitted to certify design proposals as being compliant with mandated requirements of codes of practice. Now clearly if specialised designers are capable of verifying to their own satisfaction that their proposal is structurally adequate, and they can do so in a matter of a few minutes, then they are technical experts. If council or the sub-consultants they employ, or a private certifier or any other authority cannot likewise verify the adequacy of the proposal in a few minutes then they clearly are not technical experts. It is therefore in the best interests of manufacturer/suppliers to find a private certifier who has clearly demonstrated their abilities as a technical expert in their area of specialisation. With the services of a technical expert all that should then be required is a complete and detailed documentation of the proposal. If the certifying technical expert rejects the proposal then another technical expert will be required to modify the proposal so that it becomes compliant, so that the certifying technical expert remains independent and can certify it.
  21. Manufacturer/Suppliers should therefore know of at least two independent technical experts, to make their product design and approval process as streamlined and as efficient as possible.

Revisions:

  1. [circa 2005  ] : First Published
  2. [08/10/2016] : First Published as Blog Post