Prokon C13 General Column: Powerful Optimization


I must admit that I found the design of Reinforced Concrete Columns quite difficult during my years as a student. About-this and along-that and the constant hammering on the strong- and weak axis was enough to give me a headache. I have come some way since then at least.

When designing columns in Prokon, you have access to three options of which the two are code based modules: Both Rectangular Column (C11) and Circular Column (C12) are both code-based (SANS, etc.) modules and the modules themselves are restricted to the code itself. You therefore are not able to design any other profiles beyond square, rectangular and circular, and you have dimensional restrictions as well. Results are also usually quite conservatives and becomes even more so the large the profile of the column.

General Column is however not limited in these ways. Its’ design approach is not code-based (in the way that the other two modules are) but is rather based on Strain Compatibility & Equilibrium (The procedure is discussed in detail in the Concrete Design Training manual). This results in a more economical/optimized design and allows for the design of any profile. Defining the profile and rebar is quite laborious, but there are more efficient ways of doing this (Padds/Probar2D workflow).

To demonstrate this I will be designing a Rectangular Column in the Rectangular Column module and then checking its’ recommended rebar configuration in General Column.

The absolute minimum number of bars I could provide were six (6) Y20 bars spaced as per the diagram. Below is the outcome from entering the results from Rectangular Column into General Column and checking the results.

I will not attempt to replace the two (2) middle bars with two (2) Y16’s and check if the design allows for that change (Rectangular Column did not allow that change).

Success! It passes with the change. Although not a big win for this particular scenario, the effect will become considerably more noticeable with bigger columns. Happy with my design, I can now complete my final inputs and generate the Bending Schedule.

With the ever-increasing demand for optimized design, this workflow can prove invaluable.

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