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RE: Caltrans Standard Plan in English system

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I had a lot of FPS inertia and bigotry prior to my working on international
projects.  But after my first one (several years ago), it was just not that
big of a deal.   I have now worked in SI or other metric equivalents all
over the world.  I still use my same old ACI, ASCE, AISC, etc.  Occasionally
I do my calculations in FPS and convert the drawings and specs., and
occasionally I do my calculations in SI or other required metric system.
Project requirements vary.  

International work does require you to get some additional standards, like
the JIS, but Nippon Steel will gladly send you a copy of their catalogue for
free.  You might have to get some of the British Standards, Eurocode, or
DIN, and you might have to find out the fy and standard bar sizes of
indigenous rebar.  But so what.  I enjoy the challenge.

Determining proper indigenous materials and construction practices are much
more of a challenge in international work than metrics.

It is important to note that few countries are totally true to SI.  Look at
weights and loads which are often times in kilograms, which is a unit of
mass.  That said, I know the intent and it is not that big of a deal.

Regarding fabricators, Havens Steel has plants in Russia, China and Kansas
City.  Cives Steel fabricates structures all over the world.  It is just not
a big problem.  These plants compete quite successfully in the international

Harold Sprague

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Charley Hamilton [SMTP:chamilto(--nospam--at)]
> Sent:	Thursday, September 07, 2000 11:01 AM
> To:	seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject:	Re: Caltrans Standard Plan in English system
> All-
> Before this degrades completely into a "my system is better than 
> yours", I'm actually interested in comments from anyone who's 
> affiliated with fabricators or materials suppliers regarding what 
> sort of costs would be associated with a change in measurement 
> systems.  As far as engineering goes, I have a decent idea what 
> sort of costs (time & $$) are associated with rehacking in-house
> spreadsheets
> that use implicit imperial units, buying metric 
> versions of all of the new supplier catalogs, codes, 
> specifications, etc.  It's a fair chunk of change, especially for 
> a small firm or a firm with limited liquid assets.  I talked to a
> guy who figured his firm would run about $15k to $20k to replace 
> their manuals, codes, and payroll (500-600 man-hours) to update 
> in-house stuff, neglecting opportunity costs like loss of business 
> during the switch-over.  
> I'm sure many companies looked into these issues when the govt was 
> gung-ho about the switch.  I assume some aerospace fabrictors have 
> made the switch given that NASA contracts are nominally SI these 
> days.  Any comments?  I'm wondering whether there is overall
> a significant monetary activation barrier, as it were, to the 
> change, or if it's just people like me who got little or no SI 
> background in grade school and are reluctant to swap over from 
> something that works just fine.  Granted, it may not be as 
> transparent as SI seems now that I've worked with it for a while, 
> but it's been used successfully for long enough that functionality 
> is not in debate.
> Just my $0.02,
> Charley
> -- 
> Charles Hamilton, EIT                   Graduate Student Researcher
> Department of Civil and                 Phone: 949.824.8694
>     Environmental Engineering           FAX:   949.824.2117 
> University of California, Irvine        Email: chamilto(--nospam--at)

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