The patented SidePlate connection has been around long enough now that our analysis program (RAMSteel) includes the analysis for these connections. We specify which connections in the lateral moment frames are SidePlate and the program takes care of the additional stiffness of the connections in the lateral analysis. We still design for stress checks and sway limitations the way we normally would, however, the actual design of the connection itself is performed by the SidePlate engineering team.
When we are satisfied our design is complete (or at least the lateral analysis is complete) we forward our entire analytical model to the SidePlate engineering team. They use the results from our analysis to determine the actual plate and weld sizes for each connection and report that back to us in the form of a schedule. That schedule and their typical details become part of our construction documents.
They also review the structural steel shop drawings for all of the SidePlate connections, in addition to us. They want to make sure the fabricator's shop gets all of the information it needs to properly fabricate the connections before they get in the field. The SidePlate engineers also make visits to the job site.
This entire process is very transparent and their engineers are eager to provide analysis help when the engineer of record needs it as well as train the fabricator. They have been a great partner on our projects.
Not surprisingly, there is a licensing fee associated with using this patented connection. All of the fabricators that bid the structural steel package are given a project ID that can be used to request a fee quote directly from the SidePlate website. Although the licensing fee may appear to be an additional charge to the project, we have seen the reduction in steel frame weight, the reallocation of welding back into the controlled environment of the fabricator's shop, the reduction of special inspections related to welding and the reduction in erection time as easily offsetting the license fee and providing a net 'plus' to the project as a whole.
You can find more information about SidePlate on their website www.sideplate.com or you are welcome to call our office.
Let us help you put this new connection to work on your next project.
If you missed our previous four emails about the SidePlate connection, you can find them on our News and Links page in the Structural 101 section.