Part Two: Why Tension Bracing?

Building on part one of our Tension Bracing series, we’re diving a bit deeper into our conversation on how tension bracing works – both for buildings and the people creating them.

Tension bracing is a bit of an oxymoron. Crack open the subject and it is flooded with complex figures and years of engineering backing. At the same time, however, the baseline concept is so simple you could explain it to a high school physics class: two portal legs pulled together to resist forces. As a simultaneously straight-forward and convoluted system, tension bracing is surrounded by lingering contextual questions about the system’s functionality when it comes to real-world implementation, planning and quality assurance. 

Tension-only rod bracing is quickly becoming the preferred method for bracing portal frame buildings around Australasia – and the leading cause for this transition is efficiency. Compared to traditional bracing systems, tension bracing offers less complications with managing logistics, transporting heavy materials, and precise installation requirements. 

As we covered in our last article, DonoBrace is a patented tension-only rod bracing system from Donovan Group that focuses on a streamlined planning process for structural engineers and offers simple and fast installation on-site for builders and riggers. Building on years of innovative development and thorough testing, the system is designed for material and labour optimisation.


Material usage

Donovan Group’s Head Engineer Kerry McCollum describes tension bracing as “the most efficient way to brace a portal framed building.” This comes down to the design of the system and how it utilises steel.

Take, for example, a traditional bracing method, such as an angle brace. In this system, the bracing load is distributed across the angle brace. The connection between the brace to the portal frame limits the load that can be transferred.

Tension rod brading, however, is able to fully utitilise the capacity of the rod to transfer the load. This is achieved through rigorous R&D and testing of the end connection, ensuring that the entire system works to maximise the capacity of the brace. The result is a far more efficient use of steel compared to an angle brace. 


Why it matters

In practice, this means that less material overall is necessary to support the same capacities in a portal frame structure. 

For example, a typical 100x100x8 angle brace at 12 metres long weighs 141.6kg. To support the same capacity requirements, an equivalent 25mm DonoBrace kit at 12 meters long only weighs 69.9kg. Doing the same job, DonoBrace saves 51% of the total weight across each brace.

The underlying benefit of tension bracing that trickles into every other aspect of the bracing process, is material efficiency. Less weight for the same capacity means less overall manufacturing and material costs, lighter transportation requirements, and easier handling on site. 

Even during the development stages, the Donovan Group team understood the importance of efficient material usage, balanced with a desire to streamline the design and planning process. That’s why we offer multiple DonoBrace sizes to meet varying capacity requirements.


Consistency and reliability

Innovation means nothing without concrete quality assurance. 

A complete tension-only rod bracing system is new to the industry. But what it lacks in years on the ground, it makes up for in satisfying above-and-beyond independent testing. DonoBrace has undergone significant testing to comply with Australian and New Zealand standards. It has passed rigorous dynamic testing, making the system suitable for all bracing requirements, including high load scenarios.

Successful testing, however, is really just a baseline for a product’s usability. Consistency is a much broader requirement. Reliable sourcing and quality customer service are the core aspects of a bracing system that make it truly reliable. From the planning and calculation stage, up through the installation process, having a reliable, predictable system is what helps a project succeed in the big picture – and that’s where DonoBrace is making strides at an industry level. 

“It’s the same every time. People know what to expect,” as Donovan Group’s Head Engineer Kerry McCollum explains. “There are simply no surprises. Ever.” 

DonoBrace is a patented system fully supported by formal extensive product testing, and by construction professionals. It has been designed in collaboration with all parties in the construction value chain to make DonoBrace easier to specify, design, fabricate and install.  

As with any process change, learning a new bracing system can initially require more time and effort. At Donovan Group, we offer direct communication and support between our clients and DonoBrace experts to help with the adjustment period. After this initial time investment, as we have seen from customers across Australasia, DonoBrace quickly becomes the preferred bracing method for industry professionals. 

Compared to angle bracing, DonoBrace is straight-forward, cost-efficient, and reliable. For the risk-adverse, tension-only rod bracing has a simple onsite QA check process so that anyone can easily install, check, and sign off the bracing.  


Transitioning forward

Tension bracing, simply put, is not a tentative step for bracing systems. It’s a fully-backed, rapidly-spreading innovative solution that is the future for portal frame structures. 

DonoBrace’s focus on efficiency – from material usage to planning to installation – is the foundation of the product. What has set this brand apart, however, is the unwavering mission for a better process. 

In McCollum’s words, “DonoBrace is elegant in its simplicity. We have spent hundreds of hours in the development and engineering of this product to ensure its intuitive simplicity, while also meeting the highest standards of the construction industry.”

DonoBrace is material-efficient design coupled with streamlined processing. “It’s about providing simplicity from development to design to implementation,” says McCollum. 

To learn more about tension-only rod bracing, contact the expert team at DonoBrace.

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