Text: Tjerk van Duinen
Images: Matrix Software, Shutterstock
Source: Beton & Staalbouw
The automation of construction technology is taking off at an ever-increasing pace. In doing so, software solutions are being designed for increasingly specific target groups and subdomains. Matrix Software recently introduced its new tool for calculating prefabricated concrete floors. Known as MatrixBeam, this calculation software is an excellent tool for modelers and structural engineers working for producers of prefab floor systems.
Matrix Software has been developing software for designing and producing building structures for over forty years. The main target groups include structural engineers, steel fabricators, concrete factories, and window frame manufacturers, who have access to a wide range of software packages. These offerings range from ERP solutions and production planning to calculation and drawing programs for construction.
"A few years ago, we embarked on the development of MatrixBeam for the prefab floor industry," begins Jan Willem Fokkema, Business Unit Manager for Structural Analysis & Precast Software. "This effort has resulted in integrating the CAD/CAM package IC-Prefab and MatrixBeam, a design program for concrete, steel, and timber structures. These programs use XML as a common language, enabling seamless communication between them and other popular calculation and drawing software. MatrixBeam is designed to integrate with all drawing systems commonly used by producers of prefab floor systems. Moreover, it is cloud-based, eliminating the need for local installations. All calculations can be easily executed via the internet."
MatrixBeam, a design program for concrete, steel, and timber structures.
New generation software
The ageing workforce and employee turnover is an essential reason for developing MatrixBeam. Fokkema explains, "Many factories have been using custom-made software, put together by their employees and maintained over the years with care and improvisation. However, replacing this software becomes very costly when these employees retire or leave the company for other reasons. Moreover, finding programmers with the skills to convert new Eurocodes into workable strength calculation software is uncertain. Additionally, the quality assurance required by the new Quality Assurance Act is another reason to choose MatrixBeam. The calculation results of the manufacturer-specific calculations can be verified daily using our auto tester."
Users can make detailed calculations of traditional and prestressed wide-slab floors, channel slab floors, ribbed cassette, composite, and beam and block floors.
Cloud-based verification, compatibility with all possible prefab floor systems, and API are the design arguments that shaped MatrixBeam. "At present, MatrixBeam is already being implemented in several companies. They can use it to make detailed calculations of traditional and prestressed wide-slab floors, channel slab floors, ribbed cassette floors, and beam and block floors. The software already includes all common sections from Bisofloor, Bruil, Dycore, De Hoop Pekso, Prefab Beton Veghel, VBI, Waardo, and more."
In MatrixBeam, a concrete producer's structural engineer or modeler can perform all structural calculations, from a single beam to a complete system floor, including shear connections. Fokkema explains, "With default settings, a system floor can be quickly designed based on the strength, stability, deflection, and fire resistance requirements. It can also consider conditions from subsequent stages, such as production, storage, transportation, assembly, pouring, curing, and form removal. The result and a possible reinforcement proposal can be forwarded to the next application, like creating a digital twin or detailing the drawing. The great thing is that each element can have its report and a verified calculation. If you want a floor system to be verified daily, that's possible. This is incredibly useful, to put it mildly, especially with the Quality Assurance Act on the horizon."
Channel slab with recess.
Jan Willem Fokkema: ‘In the end, we do it for the customer, who receives an optimized calculation program and eliminates a lot of manual work and validation calculations.’
Matrix started developing the calculation program five years ago, and Fokkema is very proud of the result. "MatrixBeam is user-friendly, built with new architecture and technologies, can be deployed in the cloud, seamlessly communicates with all common design and calculation programs, and includes all product codes and regulations. As a result, it was a very complex project to create." Matrix also provides training and validation services. "Often, the application we need to replace is a program created by someone who has left. It may contain errors. When we replace it with a new product, according to the latest standards, we must validate to identify any differences. Ultimately, we do it for the customer, who receives an optimized calculation program and can eliminate manual work and validation calculations."
Reinforcement calculation in MatrixBeam.