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CROSS Safety Report

Error in proprietary design program

Report ID: 349 Published: 1 July 2013 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

It has been noted, says a reporter, that a current package for pad foundation design has no factor of safety against overturning, returning a ‘pass’ for unfactored loads and a utilisation ratio of 1.

Key Learning Outcomes

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • It is good practice to check and validate all design outputs from proprietary design software

  • If you are concerned with any of the output’s, consider raising this with the software technical support team and seeking clarification

  • Raising awareness is the first step in the process of bringing about improvements to industry

Full Report

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It has been noted, says a reporter, that a current package for pad foundation design has no factor of safety against overturning, returning a ‘pass’ for unfactored loads and a utilisation ratio of 1. Furthermore, it has been noted that the same program returns a ‘pass’ without checking the bending capacity of the base in hogging.

As such a pad foundation can be designed of strange proportions with no top reinforcement, so that it would potentially snap under self-weight and overburden, but again gain a ‘pass’ in the software.

The suppliers are aware of, and concur with, both findings and have undertaken to correct them at some point but there may be, continues the reporter, many pad foundations in use which have been incorrectly designed using this program.

Expert Panel Comments

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There is concern about reliance on computer output and there should always be a check to ensure that results are sensible. In simple cases such as a pad foundation this can be an approximate manual calculation. It would be expected that reputable software suppliers would issue alerts about known bugs to their customers so that users can assess the possible effect on their designs.

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