Have you been curious about how the software development started for our structural engineering software in Sweden? WIN-Statik was the first program developed for Windows in 1989 (hence the name WIN-Statik) for structural engineers and is still considered one of their main tools. However, the idea behind FEM-Design arose from a coincidence – in this blog post, you will get a brief walkthrough of how it originated.
Intuitive computational software and reliable customer support are crucial for practising structural engineers. Frame Analysis, created in the late 80s, was one of the first modules offered by the WIN-Statik family. The programs offer great opportunities for quick structural calculations, which is vital for practical engineers.
The WIN-Statik product owner, Stefan Åberg, has managed the development during the past decades and gives us a deep insight into how it all started and evolved.
Start by telling us about your favourite module in WIN-Statik.
It must be Frame Analysis – simply because it is a program where you can analyze and design arbitrary frame structures according to the first and second-order theories. The integrated concrete design is very advanced and can manage the general method according to 5.8.6 (1)P in EN-1992-1 – a method that is not always possible for similar software. To use the general method, the program must calculate the second-order effects in combination with material nonlinearity, i.e., how the material properties are changed during the loading. In this case, how the cracking is changing the element stiffness. A minor stiffness leads to higher displacements and, thus, greater second-order effects. This calculation is done with an iterative procedure. The user can deactivate the cracking in the analysis to get a quick overview of the effects on the section capacity.
For the curious reader, find out more about this feature here: Buckling of Concrete | WIN-Statik Tips & Tricks | StruSoft.
What values does WIN-Statik stand for?
WIN-Statik is a software package where the user can perform several of the calculations a structural engineer needs to perform in their daily work. The calculations are usually advanced and require a good knowledge of the software to use it properly. The product is complementary to FEM-Design, one of our more advanced and major products.
Tell us more about yourself.
I am 68 years old and have an M. Sc. in Civil Engineering from Lunds Institute of Technology. After graduation, I started working at Skanska in Malmö as a structural engineer in 1981. I worked on engineering projects in steel, concrete, and timber.
My interest in computational software started when a contemporary design guideline for concrete was launched in 1979 (BBK 79). I got the assignment to educate and host workshops for the structural engineers at my department and the department for prefabrication.
How did the actual work with engineering software start? The challenges and opportunities must have been different back then?
The computational power we have today was quite different from the one in the ’80s. Back then, there were a few terminals that we could use for connecting to different computers around the world. I remember we used one found in Cleveland, US. However, the computations for even a simple frame were very time-consuming, ending up with only a list of sectional forces.
A few years earlier, Paul Rehn had been employed, and he started investigating the opportunities for computational software in structural engineering. He was in touch with the consultancy firm Arup in London. They had developed a series of programs on Hewlett Packard computers in a programming language named HP Basic. This was not only an analysis software but could also design according to the British guidelines – however, the major new feature was that it could present graphical solutions. This allowed e.q. to illustrate internal force distribution when showing the results to the user.
This was the kickoff for a group under the direction of Paul Rehn that started software development for structural engineering purposes. I became part of that group. Eventually, the group increased with FEM-Design, Impact (a project that Håkan Hansson had started with Skanska Prefab), VIP+ (a program for energy calculations), and a branch for various external programming assignments. The group was called Skanska Software and had about 40 employees. Eventually, 13 people from this group became StruSoft in 2002, with five of us still working in the company today. Except myself, it is Paul Rehn, Mikael van de Leur, Peter Karlsson and Mikael Nilsson from the original team.
Skanska Software development team – picture from the Cementa magazine, 1987.
Paul Rehn is by the whiteboard, and Leif Holmstrand, head of marketing, is on the right. To the left are Peter Rundberg, Stefan Åberg and Bengt Bengtsson, three of the original WIN-Statik development team members.
How did it evolve after the first years?
The engineering department at Skanska used our products initially. We started to market the software to other engineering consultants. However, the result was unsuccessful due to the expensive prices of these HP computers. The price for a computer was back then around 250.000 SEK. The solution came when the personal computers arrived. Initially, it was IBM PC with the operating system MS-DOS from Microsoft. Unfortunately, the programming language HP-Basic was no longer compatible with this system. This forced us to rewrite the program in Fortran, which enabled us to explore new markets. A significant uplift came when MS Windows arrived, which we implemented in the late 80s. Again, the programs were rewritten in C and C++. It also meant that I left programming to the experts and focused on specifications, quality assurance, and support.
Eventually, the name WIN-Statik was proposed, and the module Beam Analysis was the first commercial program launched in Sweden for Windows in 1989. The module Frame Analysis was launched in 1990 and is still one of the most used modules among structural engineers. During the following period, we had yearly meetings with our users to demonstrate the products and obtain relevant requests from them about improvements and new features. The close relationship between us as developers and the users has enabled the long-time success of our products.
How did the idea of FEM-Design arrive – is there any connections to WIN-Statik?
The software FEM-Design, one of our major products today, really arose from a coincidence. At the beginning of the 90s, we – as a Swedish company – got the mission from the municipality in Malmö to educate immigrants from all over the world. One of them was Maria Bogdan – who later worked at StruSoft until her retirement. Her native language was Hungarian, and she got the project to translate WIN-Statik to Hungarian. This created an opportunity for us to collaborate with a Hungarian company that had developed a 3D analysis frame software. We then met András Szlameniczky, who to this day is the manager of the development team in Hungary.
This was the birth of the 2D Plate module in FEM-Design, where a CAD tool and FE-engine were merged. Later, FEM-Design 3D Structure was created, a highly advanced calculation engine for finite element calculations and structural design according to Eurocode and national annexes.
FEM-Design development team in Budapest, Hungary, 2021
The concrete package – tell us a bit more about that?
During the ’90s, we kept developing the programs and the calculation routines in the concrete programs called “The concrete package”. Hans-Olle Nilsson, was the creator of “The concrete package”. He was very skilled theoretically and a practicing engineer after working almost 35 years at Skanska Prefab.
The introduction of Eurocode caused, initially, the main concern for practical engineers. How big was this implementation of the contemporary design guidelines to WIN-Statik?
It was a very comprehensive work that took several years to implement. The construction industry is rather sluggish. It took a few years until the Eurocode was commonly used for Swedish construction projects.
When StruSoft was established in 2002, a big part of the work was to implement the new European design guidelines that appeared on the market. WIN-Statik has kept its position as a key software for structural engineers in Sweden, and FEM-Design has become one of the most used FE-software in northern Europe.
Who manages the development and maintenance of the WIN-Statik product today?
I am now working only part-time, and my colleague Fredrik Lindström is also involved in managing the programs. The group leader for the development is Pierre Olsson, who has been with us since 2007. A few years later, Tobias Berg joined the group, and he has a key role in keeping the product up to date and relevant for today’s purposes.
Finally, what do you think structural engineers appreciate most with WIN-Statik, especially regarding Frame Analysis?
They appreciate the programs due to their user-friendliness and capabilities of performing advanced calculations for what is usually a tedious and time-consuming activity. Also, they value our great customer support, which always provides quick services when needed.
Article written by Shaho Ruhani
Discover more information to learn how to work optimally with WIN-Statik
Due to its power and ease of use, WIN-Statik is a structural engineer’s best choice for handling everyday engineering tasks. It contains both analysis and design in accordance with Eurocode and various national annexes. In Scandinavia, it has been the go-to design tool for structural engineers for the last 35 years.
Visit the Wiki page for WIN-Statik to improve your knowledge and, thus, work optimally with our structural engineering software. If you prefer video content, watch the dedicated YouTube videos. In case you need technical help, take advantage of our great customer support by checking the dedicated page.
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I am working with market development and as a technical specialist in bridge applications for FEM-Design. I have 3+ years of experience in the bridge- and civil engineering industry as a consultant. I am specialized in troubleshooting within finite element analysis and providing coaching to professional bridge engineers through webinars, coaching, and technical courses. Naturally, my curiosity benefits my clients by providing innovative ideas and adding new perspectives to understanding the solutions.
Market Development & Technical Specialist
Phone: +46 70 03 85 104