Structural and geotechnical design can be subdivided in two steps: analysis and design. En-gineering analyses are mainly done by numerical methods, such as the finite element method. There are many available software packages, such as OpenSees, Etabs, Sap, Safe, Abaqus andAnsys for such analyses. Some of the available packages require powerful computing hardwareand months or even years of training for an engineer to master the modelling algorithms em-ployed by these software packages. Once the analysis is done, the next step is to verify that aproposed structural solution (the design) complies with the applicable engineering design codes(e.g., CSA S304.1-14, CSA A23.3-14, and CSA S6.1-19) in order to achieve target safety lev-els. In essence, the design codes are a series of criteria which allow engineers to ensure that abuilding design targets acceptable safety levels. However, these codes are a minimal require-ment and do not have to be followed step by step if one can demonstrate that an alternativedesign is acceptably safe. Such a reliability-based design will be referred to under the generalcategory of “risk assessment” herein. Both finite element and risk assessment are broad topics. Therefore, in this company the initialfocus is on the development of the algorithms for geotechnical engineering problems. Theproduct focuses on the nonlinear finite element modelling and subsequent reliability analysis toprovide reliablility-based design recommendations. The finite element modelling technique has been widely used as an effective analysis tool in thesimulation of structural and geotechnical behaviour for both research and design practice. Inrecent years, advancements in computing technology and hardware have enabled the use of so-phisticated finite element techniques such as the Modified Compression Field Theory (MCFT)(Sadeghian and Vecchio 2018) and the Random Finite Element Method (RFEM) (Fenton andGriffiths 2008) to help find the optimal structural design. The main drawback of such advancedmethods is the high computational costs associated with finite element and RFEM simulations. The main objective of the company is to take common finite element packages in structuraland geotechnical engineering fields and implement risk assessment tools as a plugin to thosepackages, allowing engineers to optimize their design while reiewing its risk. Engineering design is basically an iterative process which simultaneously considers both thecost (e.g., failure consequences) and the target reliability of the designed system. The challengeis to find the design which properly balances cost and reliability. More specifically, the designhaving the lowest overall expected lifetime cost is preferable, where expected cost is defined asthe sum of the design, construction, maintenance and risk costs. The risk cost is the product ofthe cost of failure and the failure probability. Important engineered systems, such as hospitals,have high failure costs and so should have small failure probabilities, so that the overall risk is controlled. To find this optimal design, the engineer needs to both be aware of the costs and thelifetime failure probability. Currently, Civil engineers rely on either building design codes (for example, CSA S304.1-14 and CSA A23.3-14) or reliability analyses, or both, in order to achieve target safety levels. Reliability-based design procedures are discussed in more detail by Fenton and Griffiths (2008),and Rahimi et al. (2017). These reliability-based procedures will be embedded within the riskassessment tools developed in the company’s products. The risk assessment algorithms willbalance the failure probability of a structure against its failure cost to achieve an acceptablyeconomic, yet safe, design.
The total addressable market in CA.is almost 100 million dollars per year in the fields ofstructural and geotechnical engineering. The total worldwide market in all engineering fieldsis in the order of billions of dollars. We are aiming to gain 10% and 25% of the Canadianconsulting company and university markets, respectively, before expanding the company inter-nationally. This will result in an estimated annual gross revenue of over 10 million dollars,based on the data presented in Table 1, which summarizes the market value for engineeringdesigns software packages in CA.
|Customers||Market Size||Average number of projects per year||Licensing fee per year||Average project fee||Potential income|
|Consulting engineering compaines||1429||120||$5,000||$500||$96,980,000|
The listed software companies have products which help engineers design and analyze struc-tures. 11157477 CA.Limited (Smart Design Systems) is focusing on developing an al-gorithm for a design software package that can stand out from the competition thanks to thefollowing unique features: