"> Tilt-Up Basics: Engineering
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Building with Tilt-Up

Tilt-Up Basics: Engineering

Experienced engineers can offer Tilt-Up assistance on all aspects of a projects, from initial design to structural considerations.

Engineering is a critical phase of Tilt-Up projects. Consult an engineer with experience or familiarity with Tilt-Up construction and current design methods. Current recommendations for many aspects of Tilt-Up, particularly engineering, are presented in ACI 551R (Ref. 1).

Engineering Tilt-Up panels to withstand service and lifting loads is critical. But using a design that is too conservative could produce panels that are thicker and heavier than required. The net result could be larger footings, bigger cranes, more panels, and more joints - all of which can increase the cost of the project to the point where it is not cost-competitive.

The thickness of a concrete panel usually is determined by a quantity called the slenderness ratio. This is the ratio of the unsupported panel height (usually the distance between the floor slab and the roof structure attachment) to the panel thickness. The generally accepted slenderness ratio on Tilt-Up walls is 50. However, a qualified engineer should make the final determination.

Floor slabs must be designed to support crane loads during erection. These loads may exceed building occupancy loads in some cases, so select the crane early in the project. Most contractors use at least a 5- or 6-inch-thick slab, unless structural requirements dictate a thicker one.

Panel connections to the footings, floor system, roof, and between panels also are details designed by an engineer, and must be determined before construction.

The loads applied during lifting generally have the greatest affect on the panels. Locations of openings, lifting inserts, and other parameters must be considered. Additional reinforcement usually is needed to accommodate these loads. Tilt-Up accessory suppliers can be helpful in this aspect of design. Most will provide panel layouts indicating locations of lifting inserts and other information critical for erecting the panel.

A product of the design phase should be a drawing of each panel, preferably showing both the front and back, and insert and embed locations. The contractor or engineer should produce a building floor plan showing the layout of every panel on the slab and the erection sequence.

Several other items must be considered during the planning and engineering phases of the project. These include surface treatment, anticipated weather conditions, and material and equipment availability. For example, if the panels are to have deep reveals, a thicker panel might be required since the cross section of the panel could be reduced at a critical point by the reveal.

Careful consideration should be given to the size, location, and attachment of temporary wall braces. Here, again, Tilt-Up accessory suppliers can be helpful. Experienced Tilt-Up engineers also can offer economical bracing schedules.

About the TCA

Founded in 1986, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) strives to improve the quality and acceptance of site-cast Tilt-Up construction, a method in which concrete wall panels are cast on-site and tilted into place. Tilt-Up construction is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, combining the advantages of reasonable cost with low maintenance, durability, speed of construction and minimal capital investment. At least 10,000 buildings, enclosing more than 650 million square feet, are constructed each year using this construction method.

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