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Timber Software Helping Aussie Builders Branch Out


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Photo courtesy of 3D Warehouse

Carpentry is one of the oldest building trades in the world. Uses for timber in construction are largely the same as what they have always been, true. However, we have evolved the precision with which we calculate beyond all recognition.

Moving beyond CAD drawing, we are seeing 3D modelling take hold, and are currently in a pre-build boom. Numerous projects are being built off site and then assembled, making the process more economical, reliable and safe.

Increasingly, software is being used in timber construction to guide management systems, scheduling and even adjusting calculations across building jobs when one component is altered.

“With the residential building industry changing rapidly, it’s critical that software adapts throughout the supply chain."

In Australia, there’s a variety of software available when it comes to timber construction. Jobsite investigated four of the most innovative:

Pryda Build software is a specialist Australian product designed for easy use by fabricators. It includes an interactive 3D model, intuitive layout modules, and powerful truss design tools. Pryda Build v4 handles calculations, such as wall-bracing design, roof load areas, critical load paths and component design. Most importantly, perhaps, the company provides strong training and support to users.

Jobsite spoke to Pryda’s Business Manager ANZ Jeff Stratford about their software and what the future of timber software may look like:

“Off-site fabrication of truss, frame and floor components brings many benefits to a builder. In particular, quality and engineered products that are delivered in full, on time, for easy installation,” said Stratford.

“The Pryda Build suite of software is a fully integrated, three-dimensional tool for truss and frame fabricators. It provides anything from estimating and detailing, through to the production floor with planning, job programming, and productivity reporting, and the company continues to develop the software to meet the changing needs of fabricators across Australian and New Zealand.

Looking to the future, Stratford commented: “With the residential building industry changing rapidly in design, compliance, labour and skill levels, it’s critical that software adapts throughout the supply chain. Software design must provide safer, faster, easier and better outcomes for Pryda truss and frame fabricators and builders. It must also be able to adapt to market trends supporting 'whole of house' project delivery. Pryda sees this as the next evolution.”

MiTek’s SAPPHIREallows the design of a whole house or commercial structure as a single entity. It automatically translates changes to any one element throughout the structure. Information is quickly broken down into elements for each contractor, and file sharing is simple. MiTek also supplies OptiFlow, a paperless production management system designed to virtually eliminate human error on the floor. Jobsite spoke with MiTek National Software Manager Richard Moulton about its app.

"Software design must provide safer, faster, easier and better outcomes for frame fabricators and builders."

“The SAPPHIRE™ Mobile Viewer App is an on-site tool that gives everyone involved in a project unprecedented access to the structural make-up and engineered complexities of a building. Imagine being able to walk through a structure—even before the concrete slab has been poured or a single wall frame erected, “ said Moulton.

“MiTek’s SAPPHIRE™ Mobile Viewer enables owners, builders, architects or even finishing trades to see a building’s model in 3D or 2D—and to move in and around the environment. Once the user has opened SAPPHIRE, they simply go to the appropriate file to quickly identify the project they require. 

“The app itself is very easy to navigate. Simple interactive swiping can rotate the image, allowing the user to zoom in and zoom out… with a full 360-degree rotation of the structure on multiple axes.”

Speaking to the benefits of timber software, Moulton said: “Having a single system, with one interface capable of designing most of the structural components is both practical and efficient. When everything is in a single model, we can automate processes and save time.”

Looking forward he said: “This industry is moving towards using ‘designers’ rather than roof experts and wall experts and so forth,” says Moulton. “However, it’s also important we allow individual experts to contribute to a single model.”

Hyne Timber Design 7.5 is a powerful and practical tool for engineers, timber merchants, frame and truss fabricators, builders and even DIY renovators—with varying levels of user access and complexity.

“This industry is moving towards using ‘designers’ rather than roof experts and wall experts. However, it’s also important we allow individual experts to contribute to a single model.”

One of the most important benefits of Design 7.5 is that it includes the structural properties and span tables for all of the most popular Australian engineered timber products, as well as the properties of 'generic' solid timber products. The comprehensiveness of its database allows users to design timber structures and specify preferred brands and products. They can also produce the associated engineering reports and certification documentation as required. 

Katie Fowden, Strategic Relations Manager at Hyne, explained to Jobsite how it works: “Hyne Design delivers innovative design procedures with a comprehensive range of timber products, powerful graphical interface, commanding complex loads functions, and superior reporting and certification for the user. 

“It allows the design of all building elements, such as bearers and joists, roof beams and rafters, frames and lintels, battens and ceiling joists, hanging beams, strutting beams, hip beams, bracing and tie down,” she said. “Hyne Design is one of the most widely used timber design tools in Australia, and it’s free. Anyone can register to download and use it. Access is available at varying levels, including the ability to design timber structures and produce the appropriate certificates where accredited to do so.”

designIT is a software tool for all building practitioners to design houses and similar structures using Engineered Wood Products, manufactured by Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) Wood Products in correlation with other selected materials. Quick and simple to use, designIT for Houses is useful for the selection of beam sizes without the need for engineering knowledge or the exercise of professional engineering judgment. 

“designIT for Houses and the computeIT suite of software solutions have provided benefits to architects, specifiers and engineers alike,” Cameron Rodgers, technical director for Carter Holt Harvey (CHH) Wood products, told Jobsite.   

“The introduction of designIT for Houses removes the need for architects and designers to interpolate span tables and provide solutions to complex load conditions without the need of professional engineering judgment, saving time and money with the consent and design fees. designIT for Houses allows users to design offset load bearing walls on floor joists, complex lintel loading combinations like cantilevered lintels, and the ability to develop a site-specific Design Certificate for BCA approval.”

He continued: “The computeIT suite allows engineers to respond to clients’ needs while providing practical, cost-effective design options in engineered wood products. Up to recently, this has been the domain of steel and concrete systems or referred to experienced timber design engineers.”

“These software solutions have increased the use of LVL buildings and systems in the non-residential market as well as aiding in the reduction of the costs of engineering and compliance.”

“These software solutions have increased the use of LVL buildings and systems in the non-residential market as well as aiding in the reduction of the costs of engineering and compliance.”

CHH is working on improving software functionality and applications for the future explained Rodgers: “Carter Holt Harvey: “The CHH Woodproducts futurebuild LVL range of software solutions will move towards emerging technology in design, connection, and use of engineered wood products in the commercial built environment.  

“We are currently in the process of including interoperability with automated processing machinery, providing solutions across phones, and tablets as well maintaining global engineering best practice.”   

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