Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Automation in Engineering Design

As a structural engineer I'm always looking for ways to improve output presentation and quality and automate repetitive tasks. My weapon of choice in this respect is Microsoft Excel and I've produced many engineering spreadsheets to reduce time spent on regular day-to-day calculations. I started programming at just a few years old using an old Acorn Electron and armed with a book of programmable games; a world away from the games our children are brought up with these days!

This inbuilt desire to always find a better way of doing things has led me to create a number of more advanced spreadsheets that not only use Excel but also the Visual Basic programming language that runs behind the main software. This allows for the creation of buttons and forms and some more advanced macro features.

Spreadsheets I've created include an advanced electronic Bar Bending Schedule for concrete detailing, design spreadsheets for concrete slabs and other useful tools such as my advanced Document Issue Register.

Automation is a powerful tool for engineers that has the double advantage of reducing production times and reducing human error. Whilst engineering software gets more and more complex and more and more expensive, engineers can create their very own bespoke design software using innovation and widely available tools like Microsoft Office.

The issue register is the first of my spreadsheets that I'm making freely available for download through this website. I'd love to know what you think of it and if you find it useful then please let me know. I'd also be interested to hear your own stories about engineering automation, spreadsheets or anything else that you use to speed up design and reduce errors.