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Economics of Structural Steel Work Purlins

Economics of Structural Steel Work Purlins

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Published by thomas kilian

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Published by: thomas kilian on Jul 15, 2009
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12.1 Introduction
Although purlins usually represent a relatively small part of the total mass of a typicalsteel-framed building, the time taken to erect them could have a significant effect on thecompletion time of the project. From the point of view of both the ex-works cost and theerection time, the layout and details of the purlin system should be simple and the numberof components be kept to a minimum.
12.2 Design of purlins
The loading to be used in the design of roof systems as given in the current codeSABS 0160-1989 is considerably less severe than in the 1984 edition. For tributary areasfrom 15,0 m
upward the nominal live loading has been reduced from 0,5 kPa to 0,3 kPa.For smaller areas the loading increases linearly, reaching a value of 0,5 kPa at 3,0 m
 (see Clause of SABS 0160). Purlins are usually designed as continuous over atleast two spans and are assumed to be uniformly loaded. Thus for a span and spacingcombination as low as 4,5 m and 1,67 m the minimum value of 0,3 kPa applies.This means that at the ultimate limit state the dead plus live loading combination on thepurlins of a typical industrial building with metal cladding is only about two-thirds of what itwas prior to 1989. The wind loading in the new code is substantially the same as before,however.Consequently, purlins will tend to be lighter when designed for gravity loading, but thedead load plus wind uplift combination will become more critical; in fact it will often be thegoverning condition, with lateral-torsional buckling of the bottom flange under negativemoment being the main design consideration.The design of purlins, especially of cold-formed section, is dealt with in Chapter 8 of the
Steel Construction Handbook 
(Ref. 5).
12.3 Purlin sections
The most commonly used section for purlins is the lipped cold-formed channel. On astrength-to-mass basis this is a very efficient section and the lipping of the flanges addsto its lateral-torsional strength, thus making it more resistant to negative moment whenthe bottom flange is in compression.
In the past these sections were rolled almost exclusively from commercial grade steelstrip, which does not have a specified yield stress or ultimate strength. It should be noted,however, that clause 3 of SABS 0162-Part 2 requires the use of steel that meets one ofthe following requirements:a) It complies with SABS 1431 or one of the other specifications listed in clause 3.1.b) If it does not comply with the above, it has specified minimum values of yield stressand ultimate strength as given in the relevant published standard or specification andcomplies with the ductility requirements of clause 3.2.3.c) If it is a so-called 'commercial quality' steel or a steel of unknown origin, it shall besubject to tensile tests in accordance with clause 9.3.1 and the design values of theyield stress and tensile strength shall be taken as not more than 0,8 times the valuesdetermined from the tests. Furthermore, the steel shall comply with the ductilityrequirements of clause 3.2.3.The random use of commercial quality steel is thus ruled out. If it is used, it mustsubjected to testing, which would have to be done on samples of the proposed materialbefore the main material order is placed.Cold-formed sections are available on request in Grade 300WA steel, at a price premiumof only some 2,5 per cent over commercial grade. It would be advisable for designers toregularly specify this grade, since the greater the demand on the suppliers the morereadily available it will become. The advantages from a strength point of view are obvious,although it must be pointed out that the strength ratio, when compared with commercialgrade, drops from about 1,33 for members of low slenderness to slightly over 1,00 formembers of high slenderness. Grade 300WA steel is thus of somewhat limited advantagefor purlins subject to negative moment, but is nevertheless worth using because of thesmall difference in price.Cold-formed lipped zeds may also be used and have the advantage that their shearcentre is located at the centroid of the section. On a sloping roof they are thus less proneto twisting under gravity loading than a channel, whose shear centre is at some distanceaway from the back of the web (see Fig 12.1). Zeds are, however, about four per centmore expensive than the corresponding channel section and are slightly weaker whenlaterally unrestrained.
Fig 12.1: Purlin sections - shear centres
12.4 Spans and spacing
As mentioned in Section 6.6 with reference to portal frame buildings, it is necessary tooptimise the centre-to-centre distance of the roof principals to achieve the greatest overalleconomy in the structure. This can only be done by carrying out trial designs to make thenecessary cost comparisons between the different schemes, including, of course, the costof the sheeting. In general it can be said that, within reasonable limits, longer purlinspans, with a reduced number of principals, will be more cost-effective.Regarding the spacing of the purlins themselves, it is usually cheaper on long roof slopesto use wider spacing and deeper profile sheeting than closer spacing and shallow profilesheeting. Comparing two popular sheeting profiles requiring purlin spacings of 1,7 m and2,2 m respectively it can be shown that the deeper profile sheet together with the largerpurlin spacing is only about five per cent more expensive than the alternative combination.This is based on the cost of materials only. When the reduced number of components, i.purlins, sag bars, bolts and sheet fixings, is taken into account it is obvious that there willbe a saving in fabrication and erection time that will outweigh the slight additional cost inmaterials.Before deciding on the purlin spacing, however, the designer should consider the effectthat this will have on the truss or rafter supporting the purlins. In the case of a light latticedtruss of small to medium span a heavier top chord might be required when a large purlinspacing is used (it being assumed that the purlins are located at the truss panel points).For larger trusses and most portal frame rafters the wider spacing would normally not bedetrimental.Another consideration that has a bearing on the spacing is the end-span to interior-spanratio of the sheeting. Roof sheeting has an optimum load resistance when the end spansare about 0,85 times the interior spans. This ratio results in a more uniform distribution ofmoment in the sheeting and of loading on the purlins. (With uniform purlin spacing theloading on the penultimate purlins, i.e. the first purlin up-slope from the eaves and down-slope from the ridge, is nearly 14 per cent higher than on the intermediate purlins.)Closer purlin spacing at the eaves has the added advantage of providing better support tothe sheeting in an area that is likely to carry more traffic, both during erection and undersubsequent maintenance, e.g. gutter cleaning.On a portal frame rafter the non-uniform spacing would not be of disadvantage; in fact atthe eaves it could result in a better location of the penultimate purlin and its fly-brace at orclose to the haunch-rafter junction. On a latticed truss with a smaller end the diagonalswould be shorter, resulting in a reduction of both member length and force, which wouldbe of benefit if these members were struts. At the ridge the reduction in purlin spacingwould be achieved automatically by the down-slope displacement of these purlins; thereduction could be supplemented, if necessary, by a slight reduction in panel length (seeFig 12.2).An even greater reduction in the end spans of the sheeting would help to resist the higherwind suction intensities adjacent to the eaves and ridge specified in SABS 0160, Table 7,Columns 8, 9 and 10.

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