Version 23 Introduces EWP Design
to the Robbins Software Suite
Tired of having to use one software to design trusses and another to design I-Joists?  Why should you have to put the same building in two different programs?  The answer is “you shouldn’t”.  That is why we are pleased to announce Online Plus Version 23 is soon to be released and with it is the long-awaited ability to design Engineered Wood Products (EWP).  This project is the fruit of over three years of research, planning, and program design, requiring changes, and in some cases internal redesign, of every module of our program.  When Version 23 is released, users will be able to specify their joist and beam inventory in the Unified Lumber table, add joists/beams to their layouts, and design them in engineering.  EWP output options include batched cutting, engineering, quotes and other various summary reports as well as autosaw files.  Online Plus will also share EWP information with InfoStar and Job Manager Database. 


One major change in Online Plus is the job manager screen.  In order to better handle the addition of EWP products and hangers as well as lay the groundwork for additional materials in future versions, our Job Manager screen has been totally redesigned.  This development, led by Kevin Krohn, now organizes items based on type.  The first division, which has been long awaited, is that roof and floor trusses are separated into different sections.  Additionally, EWP and Hangers each have their own sections.  Having these divisions make it easier for users to select or output various parts of a job.  These enhancements also create a foundation for future versions which will see additional materials such as fascia and sheathing. 


Future plans also involve adding toggles to turn on/off items based on which level they reside.  This will enable Job Manager to display parts of a project such as all the items on the first floor or limit the display to just EWP and Hangers for the second floor, etc.  Our goal is to empower users to put the entire layout in one job and easily be able to sort out just the products needed for a particular production group. 

After much research, Robbins decided to write our own design engine for EWP rather than try to incorporate one written by an outside source.  The key advantage of this path (which was headed by Jack Welch) is that we retain our vendor neutral stance.  Our new EWP design engine will allow Online Plus users to design I-Joists and LVL beams from any vendor as well as solid sawn beams and joists.  We currently support 9 major EWP vendors and additional vendors/products can be added with a simple phone call to Robbins Tech Support.  Another advantage of writing our own design engine is that design screens users see are identical to what they currently use to for truss design, which substantially reduces the learning curve.

When users design EWP in version 23, they will have three deflection options: Minimum, Increased, and Custom that can be adjusted on the fly.  In future versions, we will add the ability to see a variety of layout and material options for a given loading condition.  For instance, joist design options will involve displaying all products in the current inventory that work for the given situation coupled with a variety of spacing options.  Users can review the list and choose the best option.  Beam design will provide options as well using number of plies as a variable in place of spacing.   


Our goal with Online Plus is to allow users to input a building once and be able to design and output all the material needed.  The EWP project is a big step towards that goal with more steps to follow in the future. 


- Employee Spotlight - Jack Welch


Jack WelchStarting with Robbins 18 years ago, Jack Welch is one of the Robbins old-timers.  Jack originally worked on the old Robbins ATX program, and was key in the development of Online Plus, primarily the RTP user interface.  Currently, Jack is leading the development of our EWP design engine.  Jack graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  Jack resides in Tampa, FL and spends much of his free time (the very little we allow him) doing fine woodworking such as handcrafting beautiful pens. 


- Employee Spotlight - Kevin Krohn


Kevin KrohnKevin Krohn was one of the great assets Robbins gained when it purchased Online Data years ago.  Kevin has been with us for 19 years and currently oversees development of Job Manager and several other key OLP modules.  Kevin lives in Austin, TX, and is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas with BS degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics and a MS in Mathematics.  

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