The Truss Database


Unfortunately, there is not an industry standard for truss identification such that you call up any truss manufacturer and order a part number and have everyone understand the order. On the other hand, this is required for a software system -- especially for quoting quickly -- where each truss is identified by characteristics and thus a price is derived.

What we had to do was invent a part numbering scheme such that any imaginable truss could be at least encoded. This way when you design a structure, what the software is doing is looking at the span, pitch, loading, etc. and then deriving the part number based on physical characteristics. This way if the part number exists within the satabase, it can at least derive a reasonable price.

Here's what the truss part number looks like. The actual decoding isn't that important to this discussion; the point is that this is a fairly long part ID:

AJJAA03840384000000000128019200000000000000000000000000ZUFABIAGSCI    

How you create the part numbers is to use the Truss Database Editor (part of the Product Catalogue Editor.) Look closely and you can see that all of the basic engineering and/or mechanical characteristics are accounted for.

After you have a database of prices etc in place, you may run across situations where a structure you don't have trusses priced for. In that case the Truss Search tab can be used to see what the system called for vs what you have installed:

The trick is to account for all of the major trusses you are likely to use and then adjust your procedures to insure that you build with these. In other words, if you are using a 2' basis for trusses that are priced, (e.g. 12', 14', 16', etc.) then not finding the truss price for a 21'6" span ought not be a surprise, so you instruct your sales staff to create structures on that 2' basis. PostFrame Manager can and will construct any practical dimension, but for super fast quoting that is reliable and accurate, you'll want to restrict what you quote to what you are willing to enter into the database.

Many builders have solved this problem in the past by using a restricted set of trusses such that buildings they erect and quote are from a "price book", that is, they're using a system where they offer a basic set of 20 or 30 sizes, and that's the limit of what they sell. That's reasonable. PostFrame Manager isn't limited to this per se, but the same practical limit applies: what you can quote and get right is going to rely almost entirely on how much data you're willing to give it. By itself the software is capable of any imaginable size, e.g. 35'4" W x 48'7" L, but the ability to instantly quote this size will depend on your willingness to provide the relevant truss data.

On the plus side, it's relatively simple to adjust things in your favor if you're willing to work with certain practical assumptions. For instance, if a 38' truss of known pitch and loading is say $100 and the 40' version is $110, you could use copy/paste to create 38'3", 38'6" etc and "guesstimate" the prices of more than 38' as being equivalent to that of the 40' truss. This would give you the ability to create spans on a 3" basis rather than 24" despite the prices not being exact. The downside of course is that you might be high by $60 on a quote (and then again, you might not.)

Summary

It works like this: you draw a rectangle representing a building or a wing. The software reads your settings and preferences and then determines how many trusses are needed and where. Then it creates these in 3D for you to see and then looks up the price in the database for quoting. How it gets the price is based on having a part number to look up; the part number in turn is a descriptor of the truss. If you don't have a matching truss, the software can't determine the price.

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