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Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

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Reliability calibrations for the design of cold-formed steel portal frames by T

advanced analysis

Francisco Sena Cardoso, Hao Zhang, Kim J.R. Rasmussen, Shen Yan
The University of Sydney, Australia


The steel industry is developing a design-by-advanced analysis specification for cold-formed steel construction. This effort provides an opportunity to utilize the latest
nonlinear structural analysis (advanced analysis) to design steel structures based on their overall system behaviour. This paper concerns the system reliability
calibrations of this design-by-analysis method, with a particular focus on cold-formed steel portal frames. Four typical portal frames are considered. The system
reliability assessment takes into account all important random variables. A limit-state design criterion is developed which is consistent with a desired level of system

1. Introduction Method is to determine the strength of a member as opposed to the

system strength given by the DDM. Moreover, the current Direct
Several steel structures design specifications permit design by ad- Strength Method is based on computational member elastic buckling
vanced nonlinear structural analysis. Advanced analysis has received stability analysis, while the DDM requires a fully nonlinear system
considerable attention from the research communities for several dec- analysis.
ades. Fully nonlinear analyses have been developed capable of accu- The Direct Design Method must satisfy certain modelling/analysis
rately capturing the true behaviour of steel structures subject to com- requirements articulated in the standards, as well as structural relia-
plex buckling modes. In professional practice, as early as 1998, the bility requirements. Appendix I of AISC360-10 [2] requires that the
Australian Standard AS4100 [1] included the design by advanced DDM must account for the natural variabilities in system, member and
analysis method. It allows internal actions to be obtained by nonlinear connection resistance, and provide a structural reliability for the frame
structural analysis. However, connection and section capacities are still no less than the current member-based design method. To fulfill this
required to be evaluated and checked. The scope of using advanced requirement, a resistance factor at the system level can be combined
analysis in AS4100 is limited to fully braced compact cross-sections. with the nominal frame strength predicted by the advanced analysis.
More recently, the American Steel Specification AISC 360-10 [2] sig- The design equation is given by:
nificantly broadened the scope of advanced analysis (referred to as
“inelastic analysis” in the Specification). It permits the design of a steel
ϕs Rn ⩾ ∑i γi Qni (1)
frame to be based directly on the nonlinear structural analysis without where ϕs and Rn are the resistance factor and nominal resistance of the
the need for checking capacities of individual members. For this reason, system, respectively, and Qni and γi denote the structural load and the
the design by advanced analysis method is termed as the Direct Design corresponding load factor. The resistance Rn is the ultimate load-car-
Method (DDM) in this paper. In AISC 360-10, the advanced analysis rying limit of the frame at incipient instability of the frame. Rn is
method can be applied to non-compact cross-sections and members not computed using the nominal values of structural parameters. The
fully braced, provided the relevant limit states are captured in the structural failure risk due to the uncertainties in structural resistance is
analysis. The recently revised version of the Australian/New Zealand controlled through the use of ϕs. The current resistance factors stipu-
Standard for Cold-formed Steel Structures AS/NZS4600 [3] now also lated in the specification, e.g. 0.9 for flexural members, were developed
features provisions for the DDM by advanced analysis. for individual member safety check, as opposed to the system-level
The Direct Design Method is not to be confused with the Direct check in the design-by-analysis method. The system resistance factor
Strength Method, which is permitted in Australia/New Zealand [3], and needs to be determined by a structural reliability calibration procedure
North America [4]. The Direct Strength Method is a design method for conducted at the system level.
thin-walled members (columns and beams) [5]. The Direct Strength The system reliability implications of the DDM have been examined

Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (S. Yan).
Received 13 August 2018; Received in revised form 16 December 2018; Accepted 17 December 2018
0141-0296/ © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

in a limited number of case studies, e.g., [6–9]. Buonopane and Schafer yielding behaviour of the steel [13]. The nominal value of the yield
[6] investigated the system reliabilities of Load and Resistance Factor stress is 550 MPa, with a modulus of elasticity of 200 GPa.
Design (LRFD) and the DDM using 16 planar two-storey two-bay gravity For cold-formed steel sections, coiling, uncoiling, cold bending to
frames. The uncertainties in steel yield stress, dead and live loads were shape, and straightening of the formed member lead to a complicated
considered. The uncertainties in other parameters, e.g., Young’s mod- set of initial stresses in the section. Likewise, as a result of the manu-
ulus and sectional properties, were ignored. Zhang et al. [9] examined facturing process, the yield stress of the section corners is typically
the system reliabilities of a number of simple structures, including a enhanced, a phenomena commonly referred to as corner strength en-
continuous beam and four frames with different levels of redundancy hancement. Regarding the modelling of residual stresses and corner
and capability of load redistribution. The study discussed the reliability strength enhancement in finite element analysis, three main approaches
implications of the LRFD and the second-order inelastic method in have been followed: (i) model the actual manufacturing process, by
AISC360-10. A similar work has been conducted by Thai et al. [7] for assuming the stress-strain curve of virgin steel, followed by the mod-
two low-rise planar frames with partially restraint connections. A elling of the actual coiling, uncoiling, roll-forming or press-braking
general reliability framework for assessing the system reliabilities of processes, e.g., in Pastor et al. [14], (ii) model residual stresses and
steel frames was developed in [10]. Using the reliability framework in corner strength enhancement independently, e.g., in Crisan et al. [15],
[10], systematic reliability calibrations were conducted for the DDM for and (iii) simply ignore simultaneously both effects assuming that the
typical planar steel frames [11] and space steel frames comprising favourable effect of corner strength enhancement is cancelled by the
members of locally stable hollow sections [12]. All these aforemen- unfavourable effect of residual stress, e.g., in Sarawit [16], Sena Car-
tioned studies focused on structures comprising compact members with doso and Rasmussen [17]. The present study adopts the third approach,
full lateral bracing. assuming that the enhanced yield stress in the highly worked corner
The present study concerns the derivation of system resistance compensates the effect of residual stress.
factors suitable for the limit state design by advanced analysis of cold- As observed from joint component tests [18], the moment-rotation
formed steel portal frames comprising members of locally unstable curves of typical bolted portal frame joints can be reasonably described
sections. Section 2 introduces the four baseline frames used for the by a multi-linear curve. Thus, a bi-linear curve in Fig. 2 is adopted to
reliability calibration, the nonlinear finite element (FE) structural model the partial rigidity of the joints. The bi-linear moment-rotation
models and the system failure modes. The four baseline frames are curve is defined by four parameters, M1, M2, K1 and K2. The present
chosen to represent typical constructions of cold-formed portal frames. study does not consider joint failure. It is assumed that at the ultimate
Section 3 presents the framework of the reliability calibration, in- state of the frame, the joints have not reached their ultimate moment
cluding the probabilistic models of random variables, and the system capacities or their ductility limits.
reliability assessment tool. In Section 4, the reliability calibration re- Three types of initial geometric imperfections are relevant for a
sults are presented and discussed. System resistance factors consistent cold-formed frame, i.e., imperfections at frame, member and cross-
with a desired system reliability level are suggested. section levels. The member imperfections of a space member include
strong axis out-of-straightness (camber imperfection), weak axis out-of-
2. Baseline frames and FE models straightness (bow imperfection), and twist imperfection. Fig. 3 de-
monstrates the sectional imperfections, including the local and distor-
2.1. Descriptions of the frames tional imperfections.
It is assumed that the camber, bow and twist imperfections along
Wind design of four portal frames are considered to derive the the member length is described by a half sinusoidal (single wave) curve,
system resistance factor for the advanced analysis. The frames are de- i.e.,
noted by WF1 to WF4. Series WF1 and WF2 have a relatively short span π·z
of 8 m, comprising members made from single channels. Series WF3 αi (z ) = Ai ·sin ⎛ ⎞
⎝ L ⎠ (2)
and WF4 have a large span of 14 m, comprising members made from
back-to-back channels. Fig. 1 shows the layout of the frames. These in which αi represents the ith member imperfection (camber, bow, and
frames represent the common construction of cold-formed portal frames twist), z is the coordinate along the member, L represents the length
with typical values of span, heights and pitch angles as used in practice. between end restraint points, and Ai is the amplitude of the ith member
The geometries and cross-section sizes of WF1-WF4 are summarized in imperfection. For the cross-section distortional imperfection, the mag-
Table 1. The frames are selected to cover a variety of failure modes; this nitude (δ in Fig. 3) varies along the member by:
will be discussed in some details in Section 2.3.
π·z ⎞
The steel is considered as elastic-perfectly plastic. Sensitivity ana- δdis (z ) = Adis ·sin ⎛
⎜ ⎟

lyses suggested that the common failure modes of portal frames with ⎝ Ld ⎠ (3)
cold-formed steel sections are not particularly influenced by the post- in which δdis (z ) represents the distortional imperfection magnitude at
location z, Ld is the buckling half-wavelength for the distortional im-
perfection, and Adis is the maximum amplitude (at the middle of Ld).
Similarly, the variation of the local imperfection, δloc (z ) , along the
member is given by

π·z ⎞
δloc (z ) = Aloc ·sin ⎛
⎜ ⎟

⎝ Ll ⎠ (4)

in which Ll is the buckling half-wavelength for the local imperfection,

and Aloc is the maximum amplitude.
The nominal parameters for the four frames are given in Table 2,
including the connection stiffness parameters and the initial geometric
imperfections. In particular, the design (nominal) value of frame out-of-
plumbness angle is 1/500 (as specified in AS4600 [3] and AISI S100-10
[4]). Design value of member out-of-straightness (camber and bow
Fig. 1. Geometry of the portal frame and wind load. imperfections) is L/1000. Note that the nominal frame models do not

F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

Table 1
Dimensions and section sizes of the frames (unit: mm).

Heave 4800 6300 7800 4800

Hapex 6000 7500 9900 6900
Span 8000 8000 14,000 14,000
Column (H × W × t) C(302 × 96 × 1.5) C(203 × 76 × 2.4) 2C(203 × 76 × 2.4) 2C(254 × 76 × 1.2)
Rafter (H × W × t) C(352 × 108 × 2.4) C(352 × 108 × 3.0) 2C(352 × 108 × 3.0) 2C(352 × 108 × 3.0)

H × W × t = height × width × thickness

Table 2
Connection properties and initial geometric imperfections (nominal values).

Eave joint
M1 [kNm] 64 64 76 76
M2 [kNm] 76 76 92 92
K1 [kNm/rad] 6400 6400 7600 4800
K2 [kNm/rad 400 400 400 300

Apex joint
M1 [kNm] 56 56 68 68
M2 [kNm] 80 80 96 96
K1 [kNm/rad] 1400 1400 17,000 10,500
K2 [kNm/rad 1500 1500 1750 1125

Column base
M1 [kNm] 60 60 60 60
M2 [kNm] 100 100 100 100
Fig. 2. Moment-rotation curve of semi-rigid joints.
K1 [kNm/rad] 6000 6000 6000 6000
K2 [kNm/rad 450 450 450 450
Out-of-plane purlin spaced 1 m spaced 0.6 m spaced spaced 0.7 m
0.7 m
Out-of-plane girts spaced spaced spaced spaced
0.76 m 0.763 m 0.76 m 0.78 m
Frame Out-of- 1/500 1/500 1/500 1/500

Column initial geometric imperfections

Bow imp., L (m) 1/1000, 1/1000, 1/1000, 1/1000, 0.78
0.76 0.763 0.76
Camber imp., L (m) 1/1000, 4.6 1/1000, 6.1 1/1000, 7.6 1/1000, 4.6
Rafter initial geometric imperfections
Bow imp., L (m) 1/1000, 1 1/1000, 0.6 1/1000, 0.7 1/1000, 0.7
Camber imp., L (m) 1/1000, 3.6 1/1000, 3.6 1/1000, 6.8 1/1000, 4.8

L = length between restraint points

while the nominal structural models do not include the twist or sec-
tional imperfections, the structural analysis models used in the relia-
bility calibrations do incorporate the local, distortional and twist im-
perfections. Therefore, possible influence of random twist and sectional
imperfections on system safety are reflected in the derived ϕs factor.

2.2. Advanced FE analysis models

Structural modelling and analyses are carried out using the software
ABAQUS [19]. Rafters and columns are modelled using shell-elements
(S4R element in ABAQUS). For back-to-back cold-formed channels, the
interactions between two webs are simulated by creating a TIE con-
straint between the webs. Four elements are typically used cross the
width of each flat plate. The geometric imperfections are incorporated
in the structural models directly by placing the relevant FE nodes at the
Fig. 3. Sectional initial geometric imperfections for single channel and double defined imperfect geometry. The most critical combination of the di-
channels, (a) distortional imperfections, and (b) local imperfections.
rections of each type of geometric imperfections is determined and used
for the nominal structural model. For the design of a main-wind-force-
include the twist imperfection or the sectional imperfections. Sensi- resisting frame, external wind load pressure is applied to the windward
tivity analyses have shown that the sectional imperfection mainly af- wall, leeward wall and the roof, as shown in Fig. 1. It is assumed that
fects the failure modes involving sectional buckling, with a reduction of the gravity load has already included the self-weight of the structure.
system ultimate strength typically no greater than 3% [13]. For other The ultimate limit states of the frames are determined from the load-
failure modes involving no cross-sectional buckling, the influence of displacement (apex drift) response curves computed by static pushover
sectional imperfection is even smaller [13]. It should be noted that analyses. If a peak point exists in the load-displacement response, the

F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

corresponding load is the ultimate load the frame can support. In the parameters (yield stress, elastic modulus and cross-section thickness)
case where the load-displacement response has no clear descending have been previously studied in the reliability calibrations of earlier
part, the point where the stiffness of the curve reduces to 5% of the versions of cold-formed seel design codes [21,22]. Other uncertain
initial stiffness is taken as the limit point [20]. In addition, a dis- parameters are discussed in some details herein.
placement-based criterion is also imposed, i.e., the system limit point
cannot exceed the point when the lateral displacement (at apex)
3.1. Semi-rigid joint properties
reaches 5% of the frame height. As will be discussed subsequently, in
most cases the ultimate strengths of the frames are defined by the peak
Joints of cold-formed portal frames often use bolted connection
points in the load-displacement responses, except for a few cases in
systems. Although test data of cold-formed joints exist in the literature,
which the displacement criterion governed the frame strength limit.
e.g., [23–28], there are only very limited test results of nominally
Details of the nonlinear finite element models can be found elsewhere
identical joints to estimate the stochastic variability of joint properties.
Component tests of cold-formed portal frame joints were reported in
[24]. The connections were formed by connecting the webs and flanges
2.3. Failure behaviours of the frames of back-to-back channels with gusset plates using bolts. Four nominally
identical apex joints and two eave joints were tested, and the joint
The four frames under given values of gravity loads are first ex- moment-rotation responses were fitted to a multi-linear curve. Based on
amined to investigate their failure modes. In all analyses, the given the four apex joint tests, the COV’s of M1, M2, K1 and K2 were found to
gravity loads are first fully applied, then the wind load is applied in- be 0.087, 0.086, 0.232 and 0.042, respectively [24]. The results suggest
crementally until the failure of the system. that the initial stiffness K1 has a larger uncertainty than the other
Frame WF1 (under a gravity load of 1.2 kN/m): At a wind load of parameters. As the statistical data for cold-formed joints are very
3.04 kN/m, distortional buckling and yielding occur near the eave and scarce, the present paper assumes that cold-formed joints have similar
base of the right column. Frame sway instability occurs when the wind uncertainties as typical hot-rolled steel joints, for which a relatively
load increases to 4.57 kN/m. At the ultimate limit state, spatial plastic large supporting database is available, e.g. [29,30]. Typically, the COV
hinges formed near the eave and the base of the right column. of the initial stiffness of hot-rolled steel connections is on the order of
Frame WF2: under a constant gravity load of 2.4 kN/m, distortional 0.20–0.30. Adding engineering judgement, the present study assumes
buckling occurs near the eave of the right column when the applied that K1 has a relatively large COV of 0.30, K2 has a COV of 0.15, M1 has
wind load is about 5.36 kN/m. When the wind pressure is further in- a COV of 0.10 and M2 has a COV of 0.15. It is further assumed that the
creased to 8.74 kN/m, both columns start yielding and lateral-torsional means of these parameters are equal to their nominal values. All these
buckling occurs in the left column. The frame is at a state of incipient parameters are modelled by lognormal distributions.
collapse when the wind load reaches 10.91 kN/m.
The failure mode of frame WF3 (under a gravity load of 1.8 kN/m)
3.2. Initial geometric imperfections
is excessive drift. The 5% drift criterion is reached when the wind load
increases to 7.63 kN/m.
Survey data of out-of-plumbness of cold-formed frames do not exist
For frame WF4 (under a gravity load of 2.4 kN/m), yielding starts
in the archival literature. Instead, the present study uses the database of
near the base of the right column when the wind load is about 5.79 kN/
the out-of-plumbness of general steel structures [31,32]. A lognormal
m. At a wind load of 8.40 kN/m, the eave of the right column develops
random variable can describe the out-of-plumbness angle, with a zero
distortional buckling. Frame sway instability occurs when the wind
mean and a standard deviation of 1/610 [13].
load increases to 9.81 kN/m. At that time spatial plastic hinges develop
Table 4 summarizes the statistics of the amplitudes of member im-
near the base-plate and eave of the right column.
perfections reported in the literature. The results are quite scattered,
e.g., the mean major axis out-of-straightness varies between 1/1340
3. System reliability calibration and 1/4794. The weighted average values (weighting by the number of
data in each source) of the mean major and minor axes member out-of-
Table 3 presents the statistics of the uncertain variables, including straightness are 1/2490 and 1/2249, respectively. These two values are
elastic modulus, yield stress, cross-section thickness, geometric im- significantly smaller than the typical design value of member out-of-
perfections, and joint properties. For comparison, the design (nominal) straightness in main stream specifications (1/1000 in AS4600 [3] and
values are also listed. The nominal values are used in the design stage, AISI S100-10 [4]). The weighted average values in the last row of
while the statistics are used for the probabilistic study and reliability Table 4 are used as the statistics of the member imperfection
calibration. The stochastic characteristics of some of the uncertain
Table 4
Table 3 Statistics of the amplitudes of member imperfections.
Nominal values and statistics of the uncertain parameters.
Ref. # of Camber (×L)* Bow (×L)* Twist ratio
Nominal mean Std Dev Dist. type data
Mean Std Dev Mean Std Dev Mean Std Dev
Frame out-of-plumb 1/500 0 1/610 Normal [o/m] [o/m]
Section thickness t tn tn 0.05tn LogNormal
Bow imp. L/1000 L/2250 L/3500 Normal [43] 32 1/4794 1/11470 1/1912 1/4646 – –
Camber imp. L/1000 L/2500 L/3300 Normal [44] 12 – – 1/2359 1/1842 – –
Twist (degree/m) 0 0.26 0.2 Normal [45] 31 1/3673 1/3984 1/2715 1/4475 0.1312 0.0984
Distortional imp 0 0.81t 0.62t Normal [46] 4 1/2510 1/2829 1/2462 1/6655 0.1083 0.0492
Local imp 0 0.375t 0.34t Normal [47] 89 1/1564 1/1937 1/2685 1/4475 – –
E En En 0.06En LogNormal [48] 23 1/4578 1/8403 1/4444 1/14190 – –
Fy Fyn 1.1Fyn 0.11Fyn LogNormal [49] 29 1/1340 1/3797 1/1148 1/4342 0.3609 0.1969
M1 M1n M1n 0.1M1n LogNormal [50] 210 1/3477 1/5643 1/2242 1/3054 0.3740 0.2428
M2 M2n M2n 0.15M2n LogNormal [51] 24 1/1427 1/2422 1/2457 1/5596 – –
K1 K1n K1n 0.3K1n LogNormal Weighted 1/2490 1/3829 1/2249 1/3716 0.2590 0.1968
K2 K2n K2n 0.15K2n LogNormal Average

Note: the subscript n represents the nominal value. * L = length between restraint points.

F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

Table 5 95 were studied in [33]. It was found that Wmax has a mean of 0.90W50
Survey of local imperfection results. and a COV of 0.35, in which W50 represents the design wind load with a
Ref. Shape of cross-section # of data Local Distortional 50-year return period wind speed. An Extreme Type I distribution can
fit Wmax. This wind load statistic has been used extensively in the de-
Mean StDev Mean StDev velopment of LRFD criteria in the United States. Note that the wind
directionality factor was estimated based on a simple geometric ana-
[43] Channels and hats 41 0.420t 0.720t – –
[44] Channels 12 0.400t 0.330t – – lysis at a time when there were no data on directionality effects. Thus in
[44] – 45 – – 2.140t 1.290t [33], it was assumed that the directionality factor had a mean of 0.85
[52] Channels 45 – – 0.790t 0.270t (which is equivalent to its nominal value). Recent experimental re-
[53] Channels 11 0.550t 0.220t – – search has revealed that this assumption was conservative [34]. The
[53] Channels 33 – – 0.680t 0.300t
mean value of the directionality factor is closer to 0.72 (which is 0.835
[45] Channels 31 0.480t 0.150t 0.470t 0.170t
[46] Channels 4 0.224t 0.119t 0.750t 0.220t of its nominal value) for non-hurricane regions. Using the updated
[54] Channels 24 – – 1.360t 0.350t statistics of the directionality factor, the mean of Wmax in ASCE7-16
[47] Channels 88 0.280 t 0.070 t 0.260 t 0.490 t decreases from 0.9W50 to 0.75W50, with the COV unchanged [34], as
[51] Channels 24 0.306t 0.282t 0.350t 0.850t
shown in Table 6.
[55] Channels 30 0.480t 0.170t 0.890t 0.210t
Weighted average 0.375t 0.34t 0.81t 0.62t The wind load statistics for AS/NZS1170.2 were examined in
[35–38], and are summarized in Table 6. It is estimated that Wmax has a
Note: t = section thickness. mean of 0.68W50 and a COV of 0.39. These values are not dissimilar to
the updated American wind load statistics.
amplitudes, assuming normal distributions. In the probabilistic studies In the aforementioned studies, the means of Wmax were expressed
(simulations), the amplitudes of the member imperfections are sampled using W50 since the loading standards traditionally defined the design
randomly, and then randomly assigned a direction. Eq. (2) is then used (nominal) wind loads using the 50-year-return period wind speeds.
to determine the member imperfections at any location along the However, in current American and Australian wind load standards, the
member length. nominal wind speeds are defined using a high-return-period (i.e.,
The statistical data of the local imperfections from the literature are 500–700 years) as opposed to the traditional 50-year return period to
summarized in Table 5. Results from different sources are combined to eliminate the need for the “cyclone factor” in earlier loading standards.
obtain the weighted average values. It was found that the local im- The wind load for T-year return period, denoted by WT, is approxi-
perfection has a mean value of 0.375t, and a standard deviation of mately related to W50 as [34]:
0.34t; the mean of the distortional imperfection is 0.81t with a standard
WT = W50 [0.36 + 0.1 ln(12T )]2 (6)
deviation of 0.62t. These statistics are adopted in the present study.
In ASCE7-16 [39], the nominal wind load Wn (for Risk Category II
structures) corresponds to a return period of 700 years, thus W700/
3.3. Wind load statistics
W50 = 1.6. Using W700 as the nominal wind load Wn, the mean of Wmax
is expressed as 0.75W50 = 0.75W700/1.6 = 0.47Wn. In AS/NZS1170.2
Wind loading is the major influence in cold-formed structural de-
[40], the design wind speed Wn is for a return period of 500 years (for
sign. It is therefore important to evaluate wind load statistics carefully.
common structures with Importance Level 2 and a 50-year service life).
In a general form, the wind load, W, on a structure may be written as
Therefore, W500/W50 = 1.5. Accordingly, the mean of Wmax is rewritten
W = c·Cp·E ·G·D·V 2 (5) as 0.68W50 = 0.45W500 = 0.45 Wn. It can be seen that the wind loads
in ASCE7-16 and AS/NZS1170.2 have similar statistics, i.e., the mean of
in which c is a constant, V = wind speed, Cp = pressure coefficient, wind load Wmax is about 0.45Wn ∼ 0.47Wn, with a COV approximately
E = exposure factor, G = gust factor, and D = directionality factor. In 0.35–0.40. In the present paper, the wind load Wmax is modelled as an
design, the wind load of interest is the maximum wind load, denoted by Extreme Type 1 largest distribution. The mean and COV of Wmax are
Wmax, corresponding to the maximum wind speed, Vmax, to occur in taken as 0.47Wn and 0.40, respectively. This wind load probabilistic
50 years (typical service lifetime). All the parameters in Eq. (5) (except model covers both the wind loads in ASCE7-16 and AS/NZS1170.2.
for the constant c) are random. The estimation of the statistics of these
random parameters is a very difficult task requiring extensive sup- 3.4. System reliability analysis method
porting data. In certain cases, the Delphi questionnaire method (expert
judgement) has been used to estimate the wind load statistics [33]. As In general, wind loads govern the design of light gauge steel frames.
more data becomes available, the wind load probabilistic models are Therefore, the ϕs for cold-formed portal frames is calibrated considering
updated [34]. Table 6 summarises the statistics for the wind pressure wind load combination. The reliability calibration of gravity loads only
parameters in the American loading standards ASCE7-95 and ASCE7-16 is not presented in this paper, but can be found elsewhere [13].
and the Australian standard AS/NZS1170.2-11. The safety of a structure can be quantified by its failure probability,
The wind load statistics for the American loading standard ASCE7- Pf. Direct Monte Carlo simulation is often used for evaluating structural
reliability [41]. However, this method is computationally prohibitive
Table 6 for the present study, as capturing the rare event of structural failure
Wind load statistics for ASCE7 and AS/NZS1170.2. requires a considerable amount of trails (on the order of 105 or larger),
ASCE7-95 ASCE7-16 AS/NZS 1170.2 each trail requiring a nonlinear shell element-based analysis. Thus, the
simplified reliability analysis method introduced in [10] is used in the
Mean/ COV Mean/ COV Mean/ COV present study. In this method, the stochastic characteristics of the lat-
nominal nominal nominal
eral resistance of the frame is first estimated using random sampling
Cp 0.91 0.15 0.91 0.15 0.95 0.15 techniques, and then compared with the wind loads to approximate the
E 0.97 0.15 0.97 0.15 0.90 0.20 failure probability.
G 0.96 0.12 0.96 0.12 0.95 0.10 Wind-resistance design must satisfy Eq. (7), i.e.,
D 1.0 0.12 0.835 0.12 0.81 0.1
Vmax/V50 1.0 0.12 1.0 0.12 1.0 0.12 ϕs Rn = 1.2Dn + Wn (7)
Wmax/W50 0.90 0.35 0.75 0.35 0.68 0.39
where Dn = dead load, and Wn = wind load. To evaluate the system

F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

reliability, the limit state function corresponding to Eq. (7) can be ex- Table 7
pressed as: Statistics of lateral resistance and system reliability index of WF1.

g ( ) = Rw − Wmax (8) Dn ϕs Wn R̄w VR β

in which Rw represents the lateral capacity of the frame (simultaneously 1.2 0.9 3.927 4.575 0.127 2.43
subjected to the dead load Dn). The system fails if Rw is smaller than 0.8 3.414 2.79
0.7 2.902 3.21
The core of the reliability analysis is to obtain the stochastic model 0.8 0.9 4.169 4.687 0.147 2.29
for Rw. This can be achieved using the random sampling technique 0.8 3.654 2.63
0.7 3.139 3.20
through the following steps:
0.45 0.9 4.377 4.915 0.145 2.29
0.8 3.857 2.64
1. Generate a frame with randomly sampled geometric, material and
0.7 3.335 2.99
stiffness properties, and loaded with the dead load Dn. Note that the
dead load is treated deterministically herein since its uncertainty is R̄w = mean of Rw, VR = COV of Rw.
significantly smaller than that of wind load.
2. Carry out an advanced analysis to compute the frame’s lateral re- Step 4. Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 for each combination of Dn and ϕs.
sistance Rw of the frame. For each Dn, a ϕs versus βs curve is plotted. The average curve for the
3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to obtain samples of the lateral resistance Rw, three values of Dn is used to represent the relationship between ϕs
and compute its empirical statistics (sample mean, standard devia- and βs for the frame.
tion, and distribution type).
This procedure is demonstrated using the example of WF1. Table 7
Step 1 can be performed using the standard random sampling presents the values of Wn associated with the three values of Dn and
technique, or more efficient techniques such as Latin Hypercube three values of ϕs, i.e. a total of nine combinations of Dn and ϕs. For
Sampling (LHS). This study typically used 200 LHS simulations to cover each pair of (Dn, Wn, ϕs), the frame is at its ultimate limit state ac-
the probability space of Rw. Once the statistics of Rw is obtained, the cording to the design Eq. (7).
system failure probability is equivalent to evaluating the probability Next, a sample distribution of the lateral resistance of WF1 under
that Rw is smaller than Wmax. This represents the simplest form of re- the (deterministic) nominal dead load Dn is generated using 200 LHS
liability evaluation, and can be computed easily [41]. simulations. Since the system lateral resistance is generally influenced
Limit state structural design has traditionally used the reliability by the gravity loads acting on the frame, the probabilistic analyses of
index, β, to quantify the structural reliability. The probability of failure the system lateral resistance need to be conducted for all three values of
Pf is related to β by β = Φ−1(1 − Pf), and Φ denotes the cumulative Dn. Fig. 4 plots the histograms of the lateral resistance (Rw) of WF1
distribution of a unit normal [22,41]. In this paper, the system relia- under three values of Dn (1.2 kN/m, 0.8 kN/m and 0.45 kN/m). The
bility index is denoted by βs, with the subscript “s” to emphasise it is a mean values and COVs of Rw for WF1 are listed in Table 7. It suggests
“system” reliability. that the COVs of Rw under different Dn are quite similar, in a narrow
range of 0.13 and 0.15. Rw can be modelled as a lognormal.
4. Reliability calibration results With the probabilistic information of Rw and Wmax, the reliability
indices of WF1 for each case of ϕs and Dn are computed using the direct
Using the reliability analysis method presented in Section 3, the Monte Carlo technique and listed in the last column of Table 7. For a
system reliability index βs of a given system can be computed, and the prescribed target βs, the required ϕs can be directly obtained from
relation between βs and ϕs can be established. Obviously, the required Table 7. For example, to achieve a target βs of 2.5, ϕs needs to be 0.855
value of ϕs for achieving a given target reliability index may not be the for WF1.
same for different frames. Even for the same frame, the required re- Tables 8–10 summarize the loading information, lateral resistance
sistance factor depends on the loading scenario, notably the wind-to- models, and reliability analysis results of the other three baseline
gravity load ratio. Since wind loads are more uncertain than the dead frames. It can be seen that the uncertainty of WF3’s ultimate strength is
load, the required resistance factor would decrease as the wind load relatively low, about 0.05–0.06. Similar observation is also made in the
becomes more dominant. However, for design purposes, a single re- case of WF2 under the particular dead load Dn of 3.6 kN/m. This is
sistance factor is desirable. To achieve this goal, the reliability cali- because the failures of WF3 and WF2 (with Dn of 3.6 kN/m) are con-
bration considers three different levels of design dead load for each of trolled by the deformation criterion. This failure mode is less influenced
the four baseline frames. The three values of dead load represent (re- by the uncertainty of material strength (Fy). Also, the randomness in
latively) heavy, medium and light dead loads. Accordingly, the design material stiffness (Young’s modulus) is significantly less than the
wind load that the frame can support becomes more dominant as the variability associated with steel yield stress. On the other hand, the
applied dead load is reduced. Under each design dead load, three values failure of other frames are affected more by the randomness in both
of ϕs (0.7, 0.8 and 0.9) are considered to establish the link between ϕs material strength and stiffness. The COVs for the ultimate strengths of
and system reliability index βs. these frames vary between 0.11 and 0.18, with a typical value of 0.15.
For a structural system designed according to Eq. (7), the linkage Table 11 summarizes the average values of βs (at three levels of dead
relating βs and ϕs is determined using the following four steps. load) for the four frames considering three possible system resistance
factors (ϕs = 0.7, 0.8 and 0.9). For a given value of ϕs, the reliability
Step 1. Establish a “nominal” FE structural model using the nominal indices for the four frames are comparable. For instance, for a ϕs value
values of frame properties. For a prescribed design dead load Dn and of 0.90, the reliability indices of the four frames vary between 2.34 and
a given system resistance factor ϕs, choose the nominal wind load 2.56, with an average value of 2.41. Alternatively, the required ϕs for
Wn such that the frame satisfies Eq. (7). achieving a certain reliability index can be readily obtained from
Step 2. Perform a probabilistic analysis (simulations) to estimate the Table 11.
statistics of the lateral resistance Rw of the frame designed in Step 1 Hot-rolled steel members subject to dead and live loads have a
(see Section 3.4). target reliability index approximately 2.6–2.8, and about 2.5 under
Step 3. Evaluate the reliability associated with the limit state: g wind loads in the existing AISC LRFD [21,22,42]. Historically, the
() = Rw − Wmax.

F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

Table 9
Statistics of lateral resistance and system reliability index of WF3.
Dn ϕs Wn R̄w VR β

1.8 0.9 6.792 7.41 0.056 2.38

0.8 6.002 2.71
0.7 5.212 3.10

1.2 0.9 6.895 7.498 0.048 2.35

0.8 6.107 2.69
0.7 5.317 3.13

0.8 0.9 6.963 7.569 0.054 2.38

0.8 6.175 2.7
0.7 5.387 3.05

R̄w = mean of Rw, VR = COV of Rw.

Table 10
Statistics of lateral resistance and system reliability index of WF4.
Dn ϕs Wn R̄w VR β

2.4 0.9 8.637 11.388 0.161 2.66

0.8 7.495 2.98
0.7 6.430 3.37

1.8 0.9 8.830 11.697 0.18 2.60

0.8 7.813 2.88
0.7 6.745 3.24

1.0 0.9 9.640 11.838 0.172 2.41

0.8 8.567 2.72
0.7 7.283 3.11

R̄w = mean of Rw, VR = COV of Rw.

Table 11
Reliability indices βs of four frames (average of three levels of Dn).
ϕs WF1 WF2 WF3 WF4 Average

0.9 2.34 2.38 2.37 2.56 2.41

0.8 2.69 2.65 2.70 2.86 2.73
0.7 3.14 2.94 3.09 3.24 3.10

target reliabilities of cold-formed members are somewhat lower than

those of hot-rolled steel members, partly due to the higher live-to-dead
load ratio in cold-formed steel members. Under gravity loads only, cold-
formed steel structural members are calibrated to fulfil a target member
reliability index of approximately 2.5 [3,4]. For the Direct Design
Method, if a target reliability index for frame systems can be estab-
lished, the ϕs versus βs relationship in Table 11 can assist the code
writers to arrive at a suitable value of ϕs. For instance, to achieve a βs
value of 2.5 under wind loads, the required ϕs for WF1 to WF4 would be
0.856, 0.856, 0.861 and 0.910, respectively. The average value of ϕs is
0.87. Considering that resistance factors in design standards are cus-
Fig. 4. Histograms of lateral resistance (Rw) of WF1. tomarily rounded to the nearest 0.05, a ϕs of 0.85 may be adopted. The
final choices of target system reliability indices for the advanced ana-
Table 8 lysis method ultimately rest with the specification committee.
Statistics of lateral resistance and system reliability index of WF2.
Dn ϕs Wn R̄w VR β 5. Conclusion
3.6 0.9 12.223 13.328 0.071 2.36
0.8 11.135 2.63 A reliability analysis has been presented for designing cold-formed
0.7 9.918 2.91 steel portal frames by the Direct Design Method using advanced non-
1.8 0.9 9.245 10.602 0.105 2.44 linear structural analysis. The system reliability calibration is based on
0.8 8.400 2.70 four frames representing typical constructions of cold-formed steel
0.7 7.568 2.97 portal frames, with various failure modes. Through simulation techni-
1.0 0.9 8.580 9.546 0.107 2.34 ques, the probabilistic characteristics of the ultimate lateral strengths of
0.8 7.717 2.63 the baseline frames are determined. It is found that the ultimate
0.7 6.853 2.95 strength of frame WF3 has a relatively small uncertainty, with a COV of
R̄w = mean of Rw, VR = COV of Rw.
about 0.05. This is because the failure of frame WF3 is controlled by the
deformation criterion, thus less influenced by the uncertainty of

F. Sena Cardoso et al. Engineering Structures 182 (2019) 164–171

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