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RE: Structural Analysis Software for New One-Man Firm

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I would like to thank everybody that responded to my request for comments; I decided to go with RISA 3D for reasons.

 

1. First cost is $2500. This beats most competitors. Six months maintenance is included. Further maintenance is $500 per year. Many competitors started around $3000 for competing software with higher maintenance fees.

2. I am somewhat familiar with the software. This will reduce my start-up time.

3. The preponderance of responses on this list (and from other sources) recommends RISA as an effective general-purpose solution, and that fits my specific needs at this point.

4. Tech support is clearly available and well-staffed.

5. I experienced no delays in (multiple) requests for somebody at RISA to talk with me about the software; this was not always true when I called competing vendors – or I’d get the “sales” guy who read off a sales sheet.

6. I heard Bill and others clearly when they identified RISA’s flaws. All software has flaws – the question is whether I can live with those flaws. In the case of RISA, these are flaws I can accept and for which I can compensate.

 

As an aside, I REALLY liked the Autodesk Robot demo I downloaded, but it had several flaws.

 

1. Cost is about $6000 up front, plus $600/year maintenance payment due at purchase. That’s almost 3 times RISA 3D’s first cost.

2. The best thing Robot has going for it is integration with Revit – but neither Revit nor Robot are quite ready for real structural modeling. Too many things in Revit revert the analytical model to the default – which impacts what I see in Robot. This may be my personal failing to use the software as intended – but that’s the point.

3. Robot support doesn’t yet seem up to snuff. The software is supported by ADAPT – and I have a lot of confidence in their intentions, but I just can’t spend my precious S-corp cash to be a benefactor to something I WANT to but isn’t really there.

 

I’m sure ya’ll have various opinions you may yet share, but for now, I’ve got to make a decision and go for it. I’ll let ya’ll know if I have regrets or if everything is peachy in a couple months.

 

One more thing: I really did hear those of ya’ll voting for Visual Analysis, and I thought about that REALLY hard, but the “sales” guy pretty much ruined that alternative for me. There’s a certain back-woods feel to that bunch that makes me think of the kind of guys I meet in Arkansas that practice engineering from a home office. I’m sure the IES is really professional, well-staffed, and technically competent, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I couldn’t depend on them if I got into trouble with a model. Obviously, if you recommended the software, then your mileage varies from mine.

 

Keith Erick Fix

Principal Engineer

Red Pepper Consulting, Inc.

http://www.redpepperconsulting.com/

 

10201 W. Markham Street

Suite 215

Little Rock, AR 72205

 

+1 (501) 227 7183 office

+1 (501) 350 3629 mobile

+1 (501) 319 7319 fax

 

From: Keith Erick Fix [mailto:keith.fix(--nospam--at)redpepperconsulting.com]
Sent: Monday, January 17, 2011 4:51 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Structural Analysis Software for New One-Man Firm

 

Greetings!

 

I’ve delayed as long as I can and still can’t decide where to spend my hard-earned money for SE software, so I’m soliciting comments from the list regarding their experience with various software platforms.

 

My personal experience includes GTSTRUDL, STAAD, RAM (various products), a defunct DOS product by ECOM (à Eagle Point à Digital Canal “STRAAD” engine). I’ve also used IES’ Visual Analysis for some Master of Science work, and just  a touch of RISA.

 

I’ve got 15+ years with most typical materials (wood, masonry, concrete, str’l steel, lg steel), and expect my new practice to see the same breadth of work. Almost all my work is buildings projects, so bridges aren’t a concern. Same for towers, tanks, etc.

 

I’ve looked at some of the demos: they all seem to suffer from the same basic “flaws” of the usual hard work to get everything modeled, so I’m not finding any stand-outs with user interfaces.

 

I’m using Autodesk Revit to coordinate with my largest (by revenue) client. The others are on AutoCAD – so I can dumb-down my modeling for coordination with those firms.

 

Comments? What’s been your experience, and what would you recommend for an engineer working alone?

 

Keith Erick Fix

Principal Engineer

Red Pepper Consulting, Inc.

 

10201 W. Markham Street

Suite 215

Little Rock, AR 72205

 

+1 (501) 227 7183 office

+1 (501) 350 3629 mobile

+1 (501) 319 7319 fax