Little Locales Using Big Data to Prevent Bridge Failures

Situated on the northwest coast of Oregon, the resort town of Seaside — population 6,685 — seems an unlikely place for advanced seismic and tsunami simulations. But just offshore Seaside’s charming 1920s boardwalk and its broad, sandy beaches famed for razor clamming, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is slowly sliding underneath the behemoth North American plate.
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Hurricane Season: Understanding High-Wind Home Preparation

As we’ve seen with the hurricane seasons of that past decade or so, homes are not always built to withstand a major storm. The hurricane season of 2017 was one of the deadliest and costliest seasons in US history. Countless homes and buildings were severely damaged or destroyed, leaving thousands of families displaced. It will take years for communities to rebuild and recover from such devastation.

Fortunately, there are solutions that can help protect your home from a hurricane or high-wind event.
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Timber Strong Provides Real-World Engineering Experience

For the last three years, Simpson Strong-Tie has sponsored events at the Pacific Southwest Conference, a three-day competition promoted by the  American Society of Civil Engineers for civil engineering students. This year, 18  universities from Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii sent teams to Tempe, Arizona, for the competition, which was co-hosted April 12–14 by Arizona State and Northern Arizona Universities.

The students compete in numerous events over the three days, with the two main events being Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge builds sponsored by American Concrete Institute and American Institute of Steel Construction respectively. In the previous two years, Simpson sponsored Simpson Jeopardy and Timber Towers / Giant Jenga, but this year we were excited to sponsor the inaugural Timber Strong Design Build competition.
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Better Engineering for Stronger, Longer-Lasting Bridges and Wastewater Infrastructure

Eighty-one years ago this May, traffic opened on a newly constructed bridge span between Marin County, California, and the city of San Francisco. At 4,200 feet long and with towers 746 feet high, the steel suspension bridge was the longest and tallest bridge of its time. Built at a cost of $35 million, held together with 1.2 million rivets, and painted international orange from end to end, the Golden Gate Bridge was an instant symbol not just of California idealism, but of American engineering and construction might.

While the Golden Gate is no longer the longest or tallest bridge in the world, its iconic status has endured. Named one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Golden Gate enjoys regular special attention from 13 ironworkers and 28 painters who replace corroding steel and rivets with high-strength steel bolts and constantly touch up the span with paint to prevent corrosion.
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Staying Put, Riding Out the Storm and Surviving the Odds by Sheltering in Place

Disaster strikes. It’s inevitable, given enough time. Regardless of where you live, there are natural disasters waiting to happen, be they earthquakes, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.  Meteorologists and emergency service providers can often provide advance notice of weather-related disasters like hurricanes, but seismic events, tornadoes and flash floods can often occur with little or no warning.

In the wake of recent catastrophic events such as Superstorm Sandy (233 deaths, $75 billion in damages), the 2011 Joplin tornado (158 deaths, $2.8 billion in damages), and Hurricane Katrina (1,245 deaths, $108 billion in damages), emergency management experts are increasingly evaluating the benefits of sheltering in place as opposed to evacuation. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), sheltering in place is generally advisable when it may be dangerous to leave your home or place of employment.
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Earthquake Brace and Bolt Helps California Homeowners Retrofit

When you live in earthquake country, you know it’s not “if” there will be a big quake, it’s “when.” You may have an earthquake emergency kit ready, but there are also steps you can take now to strengthen your home to make it more resistant to earthquake damage. And if you live in California, there’s a program called the Earthquake Brace + Bolt (EBB) that provides up to $3,000 for seismic retrofit grants to homeowners residing in more than 150 California zip codes. If you’ve checked it before and your zip code wasn’t listed, be sure to check it again because the list has been expanded. Continue reading “Earthquake Brace and Bolt Helps California Homeowners Retrofit”

Picking Up the Pieces — Examining the Effects of Hurricane Harvey

From hurricanes and earthquakes to wildfires, floods, freezes, droughts, severe storms and more, natural disasters plagued the United States in 2017. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reports that 2017 could be a record-breaking year for disasters that cause over $1 billion in damage. As of October of 2017, NCEI reported 15 such events in the United States, only one fewer than in the record year of 2011. Without going into the details of why these events occur — we’ll leave that to the scientific community — there are ways to prevent damage and destruction by building resilient communities and structures.
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Protecting Your Home from Earthquakes

On a Sunday morning in late August 2014, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake surprised Napa, California residents and caused structural damage to many homes and businesses in the area. One of the most powerful earthquakes in Napa’s history, local news outlet KQED reported $300 million in damage to homes and commercial properties.

Napa is right in our backyard, about 60 miles north of Pleasanton. Many Simpson Strong-Tie employees felt the quake, but fortunately no one was injured. If you’ve ever been in a large earthquake, you would probably agree that it’s a frightening and unsettling experience. And unlike other natural disasters, there’s no warning. Here is one woman’s story about the Napa earthquake:
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Modular Building: a Faster, Higher-Quality Alternative to Stick-Built Construction

Modular construction — sometimes also known as prefabricated, prefab, prebuilt, manufactured, factory-built, or panelized construction — ain’t no stroll in the trailer park. Although double-wides and modular prefabs sometimes roll off the same factory floor, the similarities end there between mobile homes and true modular construction, which is gaining a foothold in markets as builders and developers look for higher-quality, more efficient construction processes.

Like component construction, modular building takes much of the labor off of the construction site and puts it on a factory floor, where assembly can be value-engineered to minimize waste and maximize speed and overall product quality. And while modular building includes trusses and panels, modular component facilities are much more than your run-of-the-mill truss plant.
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