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An e-forum for the implementation of the eurocodes for steel construction

Assisting european industry to implement the eurocodes for steel construction quickly and efficiently through the development and use of a cooperative, internet based discussion and advisory forum on best implementation practice.

The principal aim of this EUREKA proposal is to assist industry, in particular SMEs, to implement the Eurocodes for steel construction quickly and efficiently by the development and use of a co-operative, Internet based, discussion forum. It will also assist the EUROPEAN COMMISSION to achieve uniformity in Eurocode implementation, an important priority identified in Guidance Paper L, Application and Use of Eurocodes (Jan 2002) (Annex B to this proposal presents relevant extracts from this document). The project will build on the technological functionality of Steelbiz - the electronic information system produced under project E! 2346. It will provide an electronic network for human expertise that will facilitate the exchange of information and the development of best implementation practice for design, construction, educational activities, software tools and practical, user friendly design guides. It will increase the awareness, understanding and preparedness of suppliers, designers, constructors and educators as they face up to the process of European harmonisation. The forum will enable active collaboration and participation from throughout the European structural steelwork community. Four levels of expertise are envisaged within the overall population that will contribute to and benefit from this forum. * National representatives to CENTRE EUROPEEN POUR LA NORMALISATION (EUROPEAN COMMITTEE FOR STANDARDISATION) (CEN) activities. These will ensure co-ordination between technical discussion for a national implementation and formal CEN activities on the Eurocodes. * National technical experts. These will be the primary contributors to the discussion threads that will resolve the principal technical issues that arise during the implementation process. * Intermediate advisors. These will act both to collect and distil the queries as they arise and to interpret the outcomes of the expert discussion threads for practical application. They will also contribute to the development of best practice in implementation. They will be typically located in national information centres (servicing SMEs) or be playing a coordinating technical role within larger enterprises. * Practicing designers, regulators, manufacturers, specifiers, software programmers and educators. This group encompasses all those actively carrying out the change from current diverse (national) practices to harmonised European approaches. BACKGROUND Following 25 years of preparation, the package of Steel Eurocodes (EC3) will be published in 2003. The EUROPEAN COMMISSION has declared a timetable for withdrawal of national codes of five years. During a transition phase, designers may choose to use the Eurocodes or continue to use their national standards. From 2008 they will be the only acceptable basis for structural design throughout Europe. This period will encompass the greatest changes in design approaches ever seen in European steel construction, as we all face up to the withdrawal of our national codes and the labour and costs associated with the co-existence period. It will expose the wide divergence of cultural and technical differences that exist between countries; these are a real barrier to the uniform achievement of implementation. The nature of the European steel construction industry is highly fragmented and composed mainly of SMEs, which have little or no R&D capacity. Engineers and designers will find parts of the Eurocodes unfamiliar and daunting. The EUROPEAN COMMISSION now acknowledges the outstanding need to educate potential users of the Eurocodes and the importance of developing handbooks, design aids and software tools to facilitate their use. It has published Guidance Paper L, Application and Use of Eurocodes (Jan 2002) to encourage a uniform approach to implementation. It is only if this uniformity is achieved effectively that barriers to trade in steel structures within Europe will be overcome. Investigations carried out by the European steel information centres in co-operation with national trade associations have demonstrated the limited resources and dearth of practical aids to implementation which threaten to impede a smooth transition. 22 European countries were involved in the survey. The results are as follows: Eurocode related handbooks (4 countries), commentaries (1), software (6), courses (1), worked examples (8), case studies (1) and academic textbooks (10). CURRENT STATUS OF STEELBIZ Steelbiz is the output from EUREKA project E! 2346. It was developed with detailed guidance from a representative group of its target audience of practicing structural engineers. It primarily offers efficient electronic access to mature technical information, at the engineers' desk, via the Internet. It has the following features that are relevant to SEFIE: * It makes best use of established IT. This enabled the project to offer a pilot scheme within the first twelve months and launch a commercial scheme (albeit with limited content) 21 months after commencement. * It encompasses a range of familiar search techniques that enable users to adopt their personal search preferences * It permits efficient manual expert intervention for marking up information, thus maximising accuracy of attribution and searching. * It can accommodate technical information in any format and at any location, including third party sites * The use of multilingual keywords enables users to search in their own language for resources in any language. These keywords are currently applied to resources but are equally applicable to people to define their technical interests and expertise. * It provides transparent provenance of all technical information, so users may directly value them. DEVELOPMENT OF SEFIE Steelbiz will be developed as required to be able to accommodate directly, or to reference, all the information necessary for both the practical application of the Eurocodes and training in their use. It will be developed to provide an electronic network of human expertise specifically aimed at the development of best implementation practice for the Eurocodes on steel construction. Detailed features will be developed to the priorities defined by users but are likely to include some of the following: 1. Expert discussion forums to resolve ambiguities of interpretation. 2. Structural discussion forums (communities) for practising designers to develop best implementation practice in specific areas of application. 3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 4. Peer reviewed, published resolutions of critical issues. 5. A notice board providing searchable and structured access to design guidance published by others with reviews/recommendations. 6. Opportunity for individuals to subscribe to all new information in declared subject areas. 7. Topic overview - structured searching of all content in specific subject areas. 8. Networks specifically aimed at the needs of intermediate advisors who are seen as having a key role in the practical implementation of the Eurocodes. All the above functionality can be developed by evolution, albeit quite substantial, of the flexible core that was established at the outset for Steelbiz. Keywords: Steel construction, Eurocodes, E-forum, Eurocode implementation, networks, technology transfer.
Acronym: 
SEFIE
Project ID: 
3 034
Start date: 
01-04-2003
Project Duration: 
64months
Project costs: 
1 450 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Archivistics/Documentation/Technical Documentation
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.